London Fashion Week: the fab home of freaks, outsiders & getting fucked up
As the SS23 edition of LFW gets under way, Tom Rasmussen unpacks its unrivalled vibes, unmatched talent, and wild conversations overheard in the queue
London Fashion Week is like the dumb, slutty, and really fun sister of the other fashion weeks. Having had the privilege and also the lack of self-worth to attend fashion week in all of the big four cities – that’s New York, Paris, Milan, London for those not in the know – at least once in my sad little life, I have to admit that London is leaps and bounds ahead of all the others in terms of vibe.
Sure, New York might be (getting) cool(er), Milan is aggressive and quite sexy but it’s also very lonely, and Paris is admittedly chic but terrifying, but London just has slutty dumb punk vibes with a sprinkling of intellect and loads of heart. And who doesn’t want that?
The others may have massive budgets, and, like, Chloë Sevigny telling me “no” when I asked if she had a lighter and I’d just watched her use for her own cigarette, but London has a distinctly low budget feel. And while this might sound less glamorous, does glamour even really exist any more? And if it did, is that really what you want from your fashion?
Surely what we all crave from actual decent fashion worth the runway it walks on is for it to do even one of the following: make you laugh; make you feel really hot, sexy, and good!; make you feel like you can do anything and wear anything and that everyone wants to fuck you; make you feel included and not like shit (this isn’t the ‘90s!); make you feel like you don’t need to lose weight or change your body; make you feel really proud that fashion – one of the greatest loves of your life, for some strange reason to do with transformation – has the ability to actually begin conversations of change. It might not get it right every time, but it certainly has the potential to learn, and relearn, and learn some more.
“Surely what you want from actual decent fashion worth the runway it walks on is for it to do even one of the following: make you laugh; make you feel really hot, sexy, and good; make you feel like you can do anything and wear anything and that everyone wants to fuck you make you feel included and not like shit – this isn’t the 90s!”
This, I now know for sure, is what I want from fashion. In fact, I don’t want glamour or bitchiness or exclusivity. Fashion week is famous for that, but that’s so dull, and if there’s one thing I learned during my foray on the frow at Paris couture week some five years ago now, it’s that seemingly those closest to the centre, the ones who get angry when they don’t have the ‘right’ seat, who love the exclusion – and who dress that up as glamour – are by far the most dull people it’s possible to meet. So dull that if you were stuck in a smoking area with them you’d wish you were at home unloading the dishwasher (if you’re lucky enough to have one) and filing your taxes.
But in London this isn’t the vibe. Honest to God. It’s no wonder it’s known as the punkier city because the parties happen in warehouses XD, it rains no matter the season so everyone looks wet and smells like dog, and there’s loads of initiatives to make sure young talent actually gets to be involved on the schedule right next to big guns like Burberry. It’s the only fashion week I’ve been fingered at, it’s the only one where the poshest editor you know can be overheard talking about the “coke poo” she did the morning after a [redacted magazine title] party; and it’s the only fashion week where proper mad creativity is at its centre.
“Take me to Paris, meet me in Milan, we’ll do dinner in New York – lmao inspirational quote xxx – but let’s get fucked up in London and make a dress out of a blow up swimming pool and some duct tape”
It’s something to do with budgets and initiatives, as well as the fact people in London are quite happy to schlep across the whole city to shows in cheaper spaces, but no other city has bred brands like Westwood, McQueen, Sibling, Gareth Pugh, Charles Jeffrey, Matty Bovan, Rottingdean Bazaar, HRH, Craig Green, Mowalola, Maximilian, Wales Bonner, Sinéad O’Dwyer, Meadham Kirchoff, Christopher Kane, KNWLS, Supriya Lele, ASAI, Simone Rocha, Saul Nash, and endless, endless others. Nobody has an ability to self-deprecate and party like the London set (and still make it to the first show of the morning), and it’s this relationship with both humour and sincerity which make London the fashion week with by far the most vibes.
In all honesty, clothes aren’t really that interesting when looked at on a conveyor belt. Clothes are about emotion, communication, ideas. And while so much of fashion is about big business, London has never lost its underbelly of freaks and outsiders who come to the big cities, go out clubbing, and make fucking insane clothes in which to do so.
When everything else is so grim, we’ll always have the party, and we’ll always have the legendary fashion that comes out of it and onto our runways. Take me to Paris, meet me in Milan, we’ll do dinner in New York (lmao inspirational quote xxx) but let’s get fucked up in London and make a dress out of a blow up swimming pool and some duct tape. You truly have to j’adore.