Tuesday, February 27, 2024

The wild secrets of London Fashion Week as it celebrates 40th birthday

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IT’S the hottest ticket in the fashion world, with celebs, supermodels and influencers all battling for a coveted place on the “Frow”, or front row.

But the reach of London Fashion Week – celebrating its 40th birthday when it kicks off this Friday – goes far beyond the glitzy designer shows and A-list parties.

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London Fashion Week celebrates its 40th birthday when it kicks off this FridayCredit: Rex

Since its modest beginnings in a Kensington car park in 1984, the annual event has shaped our lives and led the way in British culture.

It was the inspiration behind Absolutely Fabulous, kicked off Cool Britannia and launched the catwalk careers of Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Cara Delevingne.

But the event has never been short of controversy either – with one designer throwing dead fish into the crowd and models even parading down the runway naked.

From rows over “heroin chic” to the infamous Naomi Campbell tumble, we celebrate four decades of London Fashion Week.

1980’s

Vivienne Westwood dances on the London Fashion Week catwalk

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Vivienne Westwood dances on the London Fashion Week catwalkCredit: Rex
Princess Diana was an early LFW supporter, hosting a reception in 1988 and attending in the years afterwards

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Princess Diana was an early LFW supporter, hosting a reception in 1988 and attending in the years afterwardsCredit: Getty

THE brainchild of PR queen Lynne Franks and the British Fashion Council, the capital’s first Fashion Week had a far-from-glamorous setting – a tent in the Commonwealth Institute car park in ­Kensington, West London.

But from the start it featured such designers as Vivienne Westwood and Betty Jackson.

Recent graduate John Galliano caused a sensation with his French Revolution-themed show in 1984, throwing dead fish into the crowd in a headline-grabbing debut to a stellar career.

Galliano was also responsible for putting Kate Moss on the LFW ­catwalk as a 15-year-old in 1989.

The same year, she featured on the cover of The Face magazine and went on to become the UK’s most famous model.

Seeing the festival as a way to attract trade to the UK, PM Margaret Thatcher threw a reception for LFW designers at No10 that was hijacked by Katharine Hamnett, who shed her coat in front of guests to reveal an anti-nuke T-shirt.

Kylie Minogue, 55, wows in monochrome shirt dress at London Fashion Week bash

Princess Diana was an early LFW supporter, hosting a reception in 1988 and attending in the years afterwards.

In the late 1980s, LFW inspired ­Jennifer Saunders to create characters Edina and Patsy in TV hit Ab Fab.

PM Margaret Thatcher threw a reception for LFW designers at No10

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PM Margaret Thatcher threw a reception for LFW designers at No10Credit: PA

1990’s

Roald Dahl’s granddaughter Sophie made her LFW debut in 1997

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Roald Dahl’s granddaughter Sophie made her LFW debut in 1997Credit: Times Newspapers Ltd
Kylie Minogue was among the first non-model celebs taking part, starring for Antonio Berardi in 1995

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Kylie Minogue was among the first non-model celebs taking part, starring for Antonio Berardi in 1995Credit: Rex

LFW was at the heart of the Cool Britannia movement of the Nineties, which saw the rise of Britpop bands such as Blur and Oasis, the Young British Artists, including Damien Hirst, and fashion icons led by Kate Moss.

The supermodel was also at the forefront of the “heroin chic” trend, which favoured pale, emaciated models with dark circles under their eyes.

But as a forerunner of the later trend of plus-size models, Roald Dahl’s granddaughter Sophie made her LFW debut in 1997 in designer Lainey Keogh’s show in the unlikely surroundings of the Cobden Working Men’s Club in West London.

Kylie Minogue was among the first non-model celebs taking part, starring for Antonio Berardi in 1995.

Among LFW’s dramas, Naomi Campbell took a tumble in 1993 on the Vivienne Westwood runway.

In 1999, model Shalom Harlow’s white dress was sprayed with paint by robots in the finale of Alexander McQueen’s show.

McQueen’s first collection, Taxi Driver, was in 1993, and two years later he shocked audiences with his show Highland Rape, with models in torn clothes to ­symbolise the ­historical “rape” of Scotland by England.

Naomi Campbell took a tumble in 1993 on the Vivienne Westwood runway

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Naomi Campbell took a tumble in 1993 on the Vivienne Westwood runwayCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Kate Moss led the Cool Britania crowd in the 1990's

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Kate Moss led the Cool Britania crowd in the 1990’sCredit: Rex

2000’s

Victoria Beckham used Fashion Week to signal her move away from singing to couture when she made her catwalk debut for designer Maria Grachvogel in 2000

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Victoria Beckham used Fashion Week to signal her move away from singing to couture when she made her catwalk debut for designer Maria Grachvogel in 2000Credit: Reuters
Victoria went on to be an ambassador for Dolce & Gabbana

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Victoria went on to be an ambassador for Dolce & GabbanaCredit: Times Newspapers Ltd

NEWLY departed Spice Girl Victoria Beckham used Fashion Week to signal her move away from singing to couture when she made her catwalk debut for designer Maria Grachvogel in 2000.

She went on to be an ambassador for Dolce & Gabbana and designed a line for jeans brand Rock & Republic before starting her own label in 2006.

Singer Bjork also made headlines after buying a dress in the shape of a swan from Marjan Pejoski’s 2001 show before famously wearing it to the Oscars and dropping eggs as she walked the red carpet.

The backlash over heroin chic and zero-sized models came to a head in 2006 after the tragic passing of 22-year-old Uruguayan star Luisel Ramos, who died of heart failure after living on salad leaves and Diet Coke for three months.

Madrid Fashion Week banned models with a body mass index below 18.5, but London Fashion Week bosses didn’t follow suit, leading to a backlash by celebs such as Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz.

But the Noughties also saw a growth in the trend of the plus-size model, which had been pioneered by Sophie Dahl and others in the 1990s.

And pop met fashion again in 2008 when Prince performed during a Matthew Williamson show.

Prince performed during a Matthew Williamson show in 2008

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Prince performed during a Matthew Williamson show in 2008Credit: Times Newspapers Ltd
Bjork made headlines after buying a dress in the shape of a swan from Marjan Pejoski’s 2001 show

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Bjork made headlines after buying a dress in the shape of a swan from Marjan Pejoski’s 2001 showCredit: Rex Features

2010s/2020s

Cara Delevingne made her LFW debut in 2010 walking for ­Burberry’s Christopher Bailey

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Cara Delevingne made her LFW debut in 2010 walking for ­Burberry’s Christopher BaileyCredit: Getty
Then in 2017, lingerie-clad models were kicked off the red carpet during a protest by animal rights group Peta

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Then in 2017, lingerie-clad models were kicked off the red carpet during a protest by animal rights group Peta

IN 2010, LFW saw the debut of 18- year-old Cara Delevingne walking for ­Burberry’s Christopher Bailey.

The designer had discovered her working part-time in the company’s offices.

The decade brought controversy to Fashion Week, as French wig-maker Charlie Le Mindu sent models down the runway in nothing but hats, wigs and towering platform boots in 2010.

Then in 2017, lingerie-clad models were kicked off the red carpet during a protest by animal rights group Peta, and Extinction Rebellion staged a “funeral” at the 2019 LFW finale.

The clamour for A-listers to be seen on the front row kicked up a gear, with Harry Styles stealing the limelight in 2013, showing up with Sienna Miller, Kelly Osbourne and Dita Von Teese.

Even the late Queen gave the event royal approval when she joined Vogue boss Anna Wintour for Richard Quinn’s 2018 show, and a year later the then Prince Charles teamed up with ­sustainable designers Vin + Omi to promote their LFW collection.

Today the event is more of a celebrity circus than ever, with Instagram-loving stars including Kim Kardashian and Heidi Klum flocking to attend.

Last year, Kanye West and partner Bianca Censori stole the show in ­contrasting black and white outfits.

Harry Styles turned up in 2013, sitting next to Dita Von Teese

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Harry Styles turned up in 2013, sitting next to Dita Von TeeseCredit: Rex Features
Charlie Le Mindu sent models down the runway in nothing but hats, wigs and towering platform boots in 2010

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Charlie Le Mindu sent models down the runway in nothing but hats, wigs and towering platform boots in 2010Credit: EMPICS Entertainment
The late Queen joined Vogue boss Anna Wintour for Richard Quinn’s 2018 show

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The late Queen joined Vogue boss Anna Wintour for Richard Quinn’s 2018 showCredit: AFP
Irina Shayk sports bruised make-up at London Fashion Week

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Irina Shayk sports bruised make-up at London Fashion WeekCredit: Instagram/Irina Shayk

Supermodel rich list

1. KATHY IRELAND: £428m

2. CINDY CRAWFORD: £317m

2. GISELE BUNDCHEN: £317m

4. IMAN: £158m

5. HEIDI KLUM: £127m

6. ELLE MACPHERSON: £75m

7. TYRA BANKS: £71m

8. NAOMI CAMPBELL: £63m

9. KATE MOSS: £55m

10. KENDALL JENNER: £45m

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