Unless you are in some sort of Fashion Week coma you will know that London Fashion Week is about to hit. I am lucky enough to have been to all four fashion capitals and each one has its own unique image. I can picture the Milan girl striding down the Via Montenapoleone in something stiking, tailored, with a touch of fur, a hint of Dolce and Gabbana, and the best shades in town. The Parisienne girl is walking down the Rue Fabourg Saint Honoure, groomed and nonchalant in a little vintage Chanel jacket and dark denims. On the other side of the pond our Fifth Avenue girl is honed to perfection wearing a little DVF dress topped by an Alexandra Wang jacket, in towering heels and bronzed legs, even in mid-winter. The London girl? She is so much harder to define. She might be on Bond Street or Dover Street. She might be a punk princess or a sleek Chelsea girl, but even so London girls are at the forefront of fashion. Never scared to take risks, put together old and new, London girls set trends rather than follow them.
The 1960’s really saw the birth of the London girl as we know her. At the centre of the fashion globe, Mary Quant’s mini revolutionised fashion and street style was born. Twiggy became the world’s first supermodel, and David Bailey made Jean Shrimpton a star. Women were really starting to make their presence known in society, and they shrugged off the images of their mothers and created their own style. Vidal Sassoon revolutionised hair with his short, swingy geometric cuts and Carnaby Street was the centre of the fashion hub. In the early 1970’s the London girl adopted bohemian Biba and in the late 1970’s as the punk movement hit, she moved on to the Sex Pistols, torn t-shirts, mohicans and was inspired by a new upcoming name, one of the first ladies of fashion: Vivienne Westwood.
In the early 1980’s the London girl wanted to dress up again and became a New Romantic, but still with that sharp, punky edge. She wore Bodymap and Pam Hogg and hung out in London’s underground club scene. As the decade wore on and greed became good, Yasmin Le Bon was the poster girl for the new glamour. The punky girl never went away and wore her shoulder pads with Doc Martens boots and a John Galliano dress. More commercial designers like Jasper Conran and Bruce Oldfield became household names as their dresses were worn by fashion’s most famous muse, Princess Diana.
In the early1990’s the London girl went back to her street style roots and fashion was turned on its head as the era of the supermodel was overtaken by a single set of pictures of Kate Moss taken by Corinne Day for British Vogue. Kate became the poster girl for London fashion and has held the title ever since. A whole host of designers brought the London girl look to prominence: Stella McCartney made her cool and pretty, Alexander McQueen made her edgy and dangerous. London fashion became both directional and commercial and as we move stealthily through this century Christopher Bailey at Burberry, Giles Deacon, Mulberry and Erdem, and a whole host of new names keep the London girl at the forefront of fashion.
The London girl today will always pay homage to Kate Moss but there is a new London girl who provides another point view. Step forward The Duchess of Cambridge.
As London Fashion Week starts we know there will be mad versus mod and classic twists on cool. That’s what makes British fashion – it is so gloriously unpredictable, and so is the London girl. There is simply no-one like her.