How London Fashion Week, spread the sustainability message loud and clear

The view from the front row? London Fashion Week was looking good. The sun shone… most of the time; Anna Wintour popped in; our girl crush Adowa Aboah walked three shows and our shoes didn’t rub too much.

While there were some breath-taking moments – like when Richard Quinn set off confetti cannons that rained down over a stellar collection of couture silhouettes, exquisite floral silks and be-jewelled court shoes – the chat was that it wasn’t a vintage season for catwalk magic.

Of course there were trends, even though the trend as we know it is dying out… We spotted windowpane check, tartan and argyle knits, corset details, mega-sized sleeves, super-bright colours and feather trims, while the street style set adopted Summer’s colour – beige – worn head to toe with flashes of lavender, pumpkin or neon to spice things up.

Riccardo Tisci showed his second collection as Chief Creative Officer at Burberry – we saw his first in September… The Duchess of Cornwall presented the Queen Elizabeth II award for British Design (last February the actual Queen showed up) but what London Fashion Week lacked in flashbulb fashion firsts, it made up for in its efforts to inspire conscious consumerism. Sustainability was the watchword. Right now the fashion industry is making a lot of noise about trying to better its production values and processes. And as an industry worth £32billion to the UK economy (and responsible for employing 900,000 people) it’s about time.

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London Fashion Week was the perfect showcase for spreading the message loud and clear. Which is what happened at Vivienne Westwood’s show on Sunday afternoon. The models announced that they were walking and talking before a cast of all ages and shapes – including Rose McGowan, Emma Breschi, Sara Stockbridge and John Sauven – director of Greenpeace UK – shared the facts about climate change and left the audience shook with the urgency and intensity of the presentation. “Buy less, choose well and make it last” was the takeaway. And while it might seem at odds with an industry that exists on people’s desire to buy things that they don’t always need, it made us all think. At the end of the show, Dame Viv weaved her way in between the finale of models singing a children’s nursery rhyme – a tiny, teeny bit out of tune – but proving that style and substance aren’t mutually exclusive.

How London Fashion Week, spread the sustainability message loud and clear

Far less intense but equally as important was Mother Of Pearl’s Monday presentation. Taking over an ornate gold-leaf encrusted chapel in Bloomsbury, designer Amy Powney turned the space into a pearl pit – which represented plastics and shed fibres from synthetic fabrics clogging up the oceans. Every ball would be returned and reused and in the past the label has used found furniture to prop their presentations. It was a worthy message but communicated playfully. Every fashion editor took a dip in the pearl pit for the perfect fash week selfie.

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However, Mother of Pearl have always had sustainability as one of their core values and this week Amy Powney, the label’s Creative Director, also hosted an event with the British Fashion Council to showcase a BBC Earth-produced film showing how our clothing choices impact on the environment. And also offering plenty of solutions for consumers to help effect major change. The reason Mother of Pearl is so loved by the fashpack is because it is truly full of clothes women want to wear. Flattering. Cool. Desirable. This season’s collection was inspired by Vivian Ward (the heroine in Pretty Woman) and the polka dots and floral prints? In the words of Ward, “It was so good I almost peed my pants.”

Wrapping up the week in style was newcomer Bethany Williams. Everything in her edgy streetwear collection was made from entirely recycled fabrics and backed up with clever ideas as to how her label can disrupt the traditional fashion system for good. As the winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Award for Design, which goes to a designer with a social and environmental conscience, and presented by The Duchess of Cornwall Bethany’s methods could change the future of fashion and make sustainability more than just a trend. She uses discarded denim and newspaper waste to make fabrics, employs prison inmates to make up her clothing and casts models affected by homelessness. This thoughtfulness has to spread further into the fashion firmament and we’re going to ensure it continues far beyond being a one season wonder. Sustainability should be second nature.

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