London Fashion Week puts experiences at the heart of the show

From giant chubby hearts to a Powerpuff skate park, Yasmin Arrigo explores how brands have embraced this season's #LFW18 live offering

London Fashion Week puts experiences at the heart of the show

London Fashion Week kicked off last night promising to deliver its most accessible experience through a number of new brand collaborations across the capital.

The start of the new fashion season is evident across the city, from the giant helium-filled "Chubby hearts" from Anya Hindmarch, visible from Covent Garden to Westfield in the designer’s open and adorable ‘love letter to London’ through to luxury purveyor of fashion, Mulberry, taking residence at Spencer House.

Among the opening events was the collaboration between the Cartoon Network’s Powerpuff Girls and British designer Katie Eary, who debuted her first womenswear collection in a skatepark themed event in Mayfair last night.

Johanne Broadfield, vice president at Cartoon Network Enterprises EMEA, said: "This year we celebrate 20 years of Powerpuff Girls, so our focus is around engaging with our fans and collaborating with brands that stand for what Powerpuff stands for.

"This is Katie’s first womenswear collection and it really meets our brand values – she is all about breaking stereotypes as are we – that has been our mission for 20 years with our three cute pre-schoolers saving the world before bedtime.

"Tying in with London Fashion Week is so significant for the brand because it seeks to engage with its fanbase that have grown up since the show debuted 20 years ago."

A city-wide celebration

Other brands to tie in with the new season include Belvedere Vodka, which opened its Milanese-style café in the heart of Soho yesterday, serving coffee-inspired cocktails including Espresso Collins and a Cold-Brew Gimlet. The pop-up will launch the new Belvedere Espress, the fastest espresso martini served in a vintage-styled syphon.

Stephen Carberry, brand manager for Belvedere Vodka at Moët Hennessy UK, said: "Creating an experience for London Fashion Week was very fitting for the brand, as the espresso martini is a drink served at fashion weeks and it was originally created in Soho, so we are bringing it back to its roots."

Meanwhile, in Hoxton, the launch of the witty "One Star Hotel" by Converse brings the brand’s new One Star collection to a totally curated five-floor hotel, featuring a themed gift shop and a secret stock-room with the latest sneaker drops.

The choice of debuting such an audacious experience during LFW was a natural fit, explained Ashley Douglas, head of communications, Converse: "The week belongs to cultural influences, to artists and designers."

Championing emerging talent

At Store Studios, home of the main catwalk itself, British Fashion Council’s senior events manager Alex Woodfield and his team have been working to deliver a show that is "open to everyone, and that really enhances the exhibition-element of London Fashion Week, delivering a constant flow of people".

The key new addition of the Discovery Lab, a new space in the middle of the exhibition, aims to enable emerging talent from the arts and fashion worlds to showcase their work, and in turn to complement LFW’s NewGen pop-up.

London Fashion Week concludes on Tuesday with the Naked Heart Foundation’s "Fabulous fund fair" at The Roundhouse, delivered by Timebased, where an estimated 600 people will attend what has become regarded as the closing event of the season.

The consumer show London Fashion Week Festival has also had something of a revamp, with a slew of collaborations designed to enhance the overall visitor experience. Another Space, which offers gym classes in Covent Garden, has come on board to deliver yoga sessions on the catwalk, while Sofar Sounds will be bringing one of its secret gigs to the show.

The market for fashion-led consumer events has becoming increasingly competitive and this is set to intensify, with the announcement of Hearst’s new show in London Fashion Week Festival’s former home of the Saatchi Gallery.

It’s a challenging market, agrees Woodfield but the London Fashion Week and Fashion Week Festival co-location makes for a unique offering: "Our USP will always be that just a few days after Fashion Week closes, we invite you to sit on the same seats by the same catwalk that the top designers, fashion editors, models and influencers have just graced."