Let’s call a spade a spade, shall we? Nowhere does fashion like London. Worlds apart from the glossy scenes of Parisian haute couture, Milanese chic, and the New York avant-garde, London’s liberalist sense of style is affected by nothing and controlled by no one. In a city where queuing, politeness, and decorum are ingrained, fashion is the people’s revolution. Take a look at our timeline of London fashion designers for some of the city’s most stylish brands.
Burberry. The London-based fashion house owes much of its success to their iconic trench coat with hallmark check pattern lining, but this stalwart pattern soon saturated the market, becoming synonymous with less salubrious copycat fashion. A decade after its identity crisis, Burberry is back on top thanks to Creative Director Christopher Bailey who successfully steered the brand towards a new path by looking back to nostalgia, tradition and timeless style. Under his leadership, Burberry was the first luxury fashion brand to actively incorporate social media into its market outreach, thus leading a technology revolution in the industry. See where nostalgia, fashion and technology collide at the flagship store at 121 Regent Street.
Another pioneer to shape the revolutionary spirit of London fashion was Mary Quant, whose designs were an integral driving force behind the London-based youth fashion movements of the 1960s. Unfortunately the brand no longer exists per se, although enthusiasts still go rummaging for one-off vintage pieces at London’s high-end vintage stores like One of a Kind (253 Portobello Road, London, W11 1LR). Next came the iconic brand Biba, famous during the 1960s and 70s for its glamour and celebrity appeal. In spite of its subsequent demise, the brand has recently been resurrected within the hallowed halls of House of Fraser (318 Oxford Street, London, W1C 1HF).
Credited with bringing modern punk and new wave designs into the mainstream, Vivienne Westwood is a force to be reckoned with in the British fashion industry. From SEX to the Sex Pistols, behind every avant garde expression of fashion in the UK their undoubtedly was, and still is, this flame-haired vixen of suggestion. Visit her boutique at 44 Conduit Street, where an eccentric selection of clothes, accessories, and beauty items does justice to the sartorial queen.
Westwood’s success paved the way for a new brand of British designer and allowed for talents such as Alexander McQueen to leave their mark. The shy, Central Saint Martins graduate took the fashion world by storm with his stunning, shocking and ethereal collections but his premature death in 2010 cut his dazzling career tragically short. Pay your respects at his temple flagship store on London’s Old Bond Street (4-5 Old Bond Street, London, W1S 4PD), where one of fashion’s most influential designers is honoured in suitable style.
Such a list of London fashion designers would be woefully incomplete without the inclusion of British fashion royalty Stella McCartney, whose signature sharp tailoring and feminine designs have secured her place in the style elite. Follow in the footsteps of her famous fashion fans Kate Moss, Kate Winslet and Gwyneth Paltrow and visit her at Harrods (87-135 Brompton Rd, London, SW1X 7XL). Or why not kill two birds with one stone at Liberty (Regent Street, London, W1B 5AH): the historic British department store famous for its avant-garde approach to fashion and its iconic prints.
Another Central Saint Martins alumni and one of London’s sweetheart designers is Alice Temperley, whose elegant label Temperley London occupies a beautiful flagship store in Mayfair (27 Bruton Street, London, W1J 6QN) across two decadent floors.
More contemporary offerings come by way of Giles Deacon, Christopher Kane, and Richard Nicoll. These and many more can be found at Selfridges (400 Oxford Street, London, W1A 1AB), which offers an excellent and up-to-date selection of London’s best designers.
Whether you’re in the market for a classic trench coat or an investment piece from Alexander McQueen, London has its own unique sense of style to explore.