London Fashion Week

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In 2009 London Fashion Week (LFW) celebrates its 25th birthday, an anniversary that also marks the formation of the British Fashion Council (BFC) and the Designer of the Year award.

LFW's origins date back to fashion promotions in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, when Annette Worsley-Taylor instigated the New Wave for designers at the Ritz Hotel. But it did not officially exist as a centralised event until the BFC was formed and the PR guru Lynne Franks masterminded a fashion tent at the Commonwealth Institute in Kensington in 1984.

Cyril Kern, a British retailer and chairman of the first council, remembers the plan was to unite the fragmented areas of activity and begin turning Britain from "an anonymous exporter" of clothes into a brand to capitalise on "heritage with a twist".

"It wasn't Cool Brittania," he says. "But it was a good start."

Today, LFW is a bi-annual event, which generates more than £100 million each season in worldwide business, and editorials worth more than £50 million in Britain alone. It is the flagship for an export industry that may have shrunk, but is still worth £7 billion a year.

LFW is a platform for established labels, and a finishing school for the annual talent youthfest. It attracts intrepid foreign press and buyers because they know they are likely to spot the 'Next Big Thing' here


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