I See London, I See France
Celebrating English Fashion—Across the Channel
It was London fashion week déjà vu—but this time, the backdrop wasn't London but a glorious French garden on a balmy fall evening, as Sir Peter Westmacott, the British Ambassador to France, along with Samantha Cameron, Sarah Mower, and Harold Tillman, the chairman of the British Fashion Council, welcomed a host of emerging and established English talents to a cocktail party last night, the first of a planned four international events showcasing British fashion.
Many of the lights of London were in evidence: Nicholas Kirkwood and Erdem Moralioglu, Roland Mouret and Antonio Berardi, Jonathan Saunders and Katie Hillier all attended. So what is it, we wondered, that gives British fashion its peculiar zing? "We have a certain form of irreverence—we're hungry," Berardi opined. "You get designers, filmmakers, and artists starting with nothing, never being handed anything on a platter, and rolling up their sleeves to get a vision across." "The British are unconventional, they have amazing taste, and they dare," added Mario Testino. "I've been in and out of England for 35 years and what's amazing is that wherever you go, people have a point of view and they're not afraid of expressing it. It's really exciting. Where I grew up, there's a real thing about fitting into society—and when I left and went to England, I looked around and said, 'Why was everyone so worried about me?' "
Don't worry, either, about the Brit designers on hand. Several present said they were expanding their visions with new commercial ventures. Henry Holland is getting into the underwear game this month in collaboration with with Selfridges, and Erdem is about to launch sleepwear with Net-a-Porter. Osman Yousefzada, in addition to running a pop-up shop next to Didier Ludot's boutique this week, is branching into publishing with The Collective, a magazine featuring the "real women" he admires. "The thing about us is that you can't have any fear," he said of his fellow designers. "It's all sort of organic. You just carry on."