Homegrown designers make the cut at prestigious LFW
Paul Costelloe wows London as new collection oozes sex appeal and drama
You know you are at London Fashion Week (LFW) when the traffic is jammed all over central London and the taxi drivers are in a good mood because they do so well from it.
Once-seedy Soho is now new-trendy territory where fashion week is on in its Brewer Street car park. This is the week the world gets its first look at the fashion collections for next autumn/winter and wannabes dress-up in mad garb to get attention.
LFW is renowned for supporting new and young talent. Friday, which by comparison to the hectic and important shows of Saturday, Sunday and Monday, is less packed with big names, allowing some room for newer labels to show.
One of my favourite new brands is Le Kilt, literally a revival of the kilt-based brand. Another is by Irishman Richard Malone. He got the fashion set raving about his latest collection on Saturday morning. See next week's Living and also LIFE to learn more.
This fashion week really did get off to an auspicious start for the Irish.
Paul Costelloe showed on Friday night, in the Meridian Hotel on Piccadilly, to rave reviews from everyone there. It was a dark, themed collection full of drama, innovative fabrics and sex appeal.
"I took risks with this collection," Paul told me. "I didn't worry about the price of the fabric, or the cost of making the collection, I just went for it. I want to sell the Costelloe brand."
After Paul Costelloe, was the prestigious Central St Martin's graduate show.
This is where big fashion stars, like John Galliano and Stella McCartney, had their talent honed. The front row is the place to be if you want to spot the next hottest thing, such as Irish designer Simone Rocha, who also graduated from St Martins.
Simone, who gave birth to her first child in November, presented her collection last night to a huge audience. It was pure Simone - gently avant-garde, feminine and very beautiful.
So far, all signs are this is going to be a great fashion week. In all, 83 designers will show their fall/winter 2016 collections over just five frenetic days.
The event, now in its 63rd season, is the showcase of a womenswear industry that was worth £27bn to the UK economy last year, and there is a huge spin off for our own fashion industry.
Latest news suggests Victoria's Secret, the world's most famous women's lingerie company, is in talks to take one of the most prominent stores on Grafton Street and certainly retail fashion is in recovery mode here.
But back to London... An estimated 35 million people will see the latest creations on 60 outdoor screens across the country during the event.
It's not all roses though. The event has been targeted by animal rights activists protesting over a revival in the use of fur.
Animal rights militants have already staged one protest and are threatening further demonstrations.
The protest came after the International Fur Federation predicted that as many as 80pc of the catwalk shows at London will contain items using fur.
Activists from the animal rights group PETA gathered in Soho on Friday, outside the official launch of LFW, dressed only in gas masks, knickers and strategically placed masking tape, holding signs reading 'Fur is Toxic'.