London Fashion Week is the fourth-most-important Fashion Week each season. Of the four major fashion capitals, it’s the one Fashion Week Anna Wintour doesn’t attend, even though she was born and raised in London. When retailers cut traveling budgets, trips to London are easily expendable. When New York wanted to move its Fashion Week dates up, London Fashion Week was forced to cut back to a mere five days. But next season a number of big labels are returning to London, after having shown in other, more important cities for seasons. Burberry, Matthew Williamson, and Pringle of Scotland are all going back to their home city to show in September. (Burberry and Pringle of Scotland have been showing in Milan, while Williamson has been showing in New York.)
Indeed, designers like Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, and Gareth Pugh all started out in London but soon moved on to the brighter lights and bigger stage found in Paris. Key buyers and press follow, denting attendance of the London shows. According to Drapers, new chair of the British Fashion Council Harold Tillman has been convincing the bigger labels to come back. He’s tired of always coming in fourth place. So effective is Tillman, a Matthew Williamson spokeswoman suggested Williamson might stay in London past spring 2010. “London has been pigeonholed as being about new, young designers and people don’t attend because they wait to see how these designers will develop,” the spokeswoman added.
Fashion people in London are confident that the return of established labels will strengthen London’s profile. But will Anna return to her homeland, too? She could always send an emissary, like André Leon Talley. He went to L.A. Fashion Week, after all.