The BFC launches new strategic partnership with the Arab Style Council

London - With London Style Week Autumn/Winter 2018 full under swing in London, the British Style Council (BFC) sets its sights on strengthening its reach overseas as it enters into a new strategic partnership with the Arab Style Council.

The new partnership, which sees the BFC solidifying its links to the region, sees the BFC become a strategic development partner for the AFC in order to help accelerate the fashion industry’s growth while offering a gateway into the region for British and international brands. The initiative comes as the Arab Style Council launches its debut Arab Style Week in Saudi Arabia in order to strengthen the increasing demand for premium fashion in the region while offering a platform to support local designers.

The British Style Council teams up with the Arab Style Council to strengthen its ties to the global fashion market

"We look forward to working with AFC as they develop their fashion infrastructure and community,” said Caroline Rush, chief executive of the British Style Council in a statement. “We also look forward to developing opportunities for brands and businesses to expand into the Arabic countries through this new relationship with the AFC, who are experts in their market."

The partnership aims to create a foundation to establish a sustainable fashion infrastructure in the Arab region, positioning the region as a key strategic hub for design, manufacturing, retail, commerce and education in order to cement the fashion’s industry role as a key pillar for creative economies. “This important partnership, will support the Arab Style Council in achieving its ambition to unite a sustainable fashion system for the Arab World,” added Jacob Abrian, founder and chief executive of the Arab Style Council.

“With the counsel and expertise of the British Style Council, the AFC will nurture and promote the talent resource from the region and strategically reinforce the Arab World as an important economic hub for the international fashion industry." President of the Arab Style Council Princess Noura Bint Faisal Al Saud added the initiative reflects the region’s global interest to “transform the fashion and retail sector in Saudi Arabia into both a regional and global destination.”

“This can only happen by stimulating local and regional industry, by encouraging trade exchange and global business in line with the Vision 2030, as our gateway to a future that reflects the cultural image of Saudi Arabia and its people,” added Princes Noura Bint Faisal Al Said. The announcement of the BFC’s new partnership with the AFC follows on from the launch of the BFC’s partnership with VIP.com in China, as London Style Week continues to strengthen its links to the global fashion industry.

Photo: Couresty of the BFC

Moncler to unveil monthly 'Genius' series at Milan Style Week

Italian outerwear maker Moncler will unveil his strategy for shaking up the world fashion calendar at the Milan Style Week opening Tuesday with his high-powered monthly "Genius" series.

The brainchild of Moncler, CEO and creative director Remo Ruffini aims to disrupt the traditional twice-yearly rhythm by rolling out collections once a month from a team of eight headlined by Valentino's Pierpaolo Piccioli. All eight, who include Simone Rocha, Craig Green and Kei Ninomiya, will present previews of their collections in Milan, before rolling them out one per month starting in the summer. For five days after each show, the collections will be sold exclusively by a selected partner online retailer before going on sale at Moncler's network of stores and wholesalers, according to Vogue magazine. Milan Style Week, a glamourous pause in the midst of campaigning ahead of Italy's March 4 general elections, will bring together media, buyers and fashionistas led by Armani, Fendi, Versace, Prada and Dolce & Gabbana.

The 64-show extravaganza runs until February 26. Prada promises a star turn on Thursday evening with a show at its new venue in a former distillery converted by architect Rem Koolhaas. Only a select few will attend, as the venue is not yet open to the public. Among designers returning to Milan after an absence will be American Tommy Hilfiger, who will be closing the week with the final stage of his "Tommynow" series after Los Angeles, New York and London. The revolution that has seen fashion houses present men's and women's collections together is gaining steam, with Salvatore Ferragamo and Roberto Cavalli joining the trend already embraced by Gucci, Missoni, Jil Sander and Antonio Marras.

Italy's fashion sector booming

Talent scouts will be on the lookout as up-and-comers Marco de Vincenzo, Arthur Arbesser and Erika Cavallini unveil their collections. Italy's big fashion guns are centre stage in the week's exhibition covering the three decades spanning 1971 to 2001 that saw "Made in Italy" conquer the world. The expo, which runs through May 6, explores how Italian fashion was inspired by art, culture and politics over the years. Last year confirmed the robust health of Italy's fashion sector, which saw growth of 2.5 percent.

Turnover for textiles, clothing, leather goods and shoes totalled 64.8 billion euros ($80.3 billion). Exports were also up 4.3 percent driven by spikes in demand from Asia, with China up 13.5 percent and South Korea up 12.8 percent. Russian demand also surged 12.8 percent. (AFP)

Photo: Moncler Milan and Gamme Rouge SS '18

New guard steal the show at London Style Week

From the dreamy pastels of Roksanda, to the glam-leather of David Koma and sensual lace of Christopher Kane, the new guard made their mark on London Style Week on Monday. The designers may not share the same nationality, age or style but they all have one thing in common: all three are alumni of prestigious London fashion school Central Saint Martins.

Roksanda, abstract elegance

Since arriving on the scene in 2005, Serbian Roksanda Ilincic has enjoyed uninterrupted success in the British capital. She now has a presence in 40 countries, a children's line called "Blossom", and regularly dresses famous women from Kate Middleton and Melania Trump to Lady Gaga. Her show this week was inspired by graphic artist Caroline Denervaud, drawing from her minimalist forms to create a collection full of elegance and fluidity.

New guard steal the show at London Style Week

The show, on the penultimate day of Style Week, was marked by long and luminous dresses, tightly gathered by wide waistbands, decorated with abstract motifs. There were also striped ponchos, wide, mid-calf length cashmere coats with padded textures and scarves covering the chest. The palette offered vibrancy and pastels from yellow to flamboyant pink; electric blue to gold and tan. "I'm a designer that always cares about women and how to dress and how to protect them," she explained backstage.

Koma, sexy geometry

Georgian-born David Koma was just 15 years old when he presented his first collection, before moving to London in 2003 and making a name as a specialist in the little evening dress He then became creative director at Mugler from 2013 to 2017. His show in a central London church was a magnet for the stars, with models Lara Stone and Jourdan Dunn in the front row. Faithful to his roots, the designer presented a glamorous and sexy wardrobe for the twilight hours.

The dresses were short and skimpy; tight at the waist and flared on the hips; made from leather, silk and cotton and adorned with feathers and sequins. Drawing on the work of ethnologist and photographer Edward Curtis, who spent nearly 30 years with the Indian nations of North America, Koma contrasted the sharp cuts of the black, red and indigo dominated garments with black-and-white feather-like fringes.

New guard steal the show at London Style Week

Kane, daring in silk and lace

Considered one of the driving forces behind the new British wave, young Scottish designer Christopher Kane created his own brand in 2006, which became known for its audacious, postmodernist collections. The designer chose art gallery Tate Britain to present his daring collection. Kane's models strode the catwalk wearing red mini-dresses made of exquisite lace, exposing their silhouettes, or sleeveless tops adorned with prints showing women in states of ecstasy.

Kane combined lace with silk, decorated with floral prints to create barely-there dresses matched with black boots. He occasionally veered towards the more sober and enigmatic, and other items seemed inspired by the Milky Way with long, straight black robes smattered with white dots, like stars in the night sky. (AFP)

Photos: courtesy of Burberry | Roksanda & Christopher Kane AW18 / Catwalkpictures

Saudi Arabia is set to host in March its first ever Arab Style Week, the Arab Style Council announced Monday, overturning decades of draconian policies on arts and entertainment.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the powerful heir to the Saudi throne, has been leading a drive to reform the country's dependence on oil, including expanding the private sector and empowering women. The Dubai-based Arab Style Council said on its website that fashion week would be held in Riyadh from March 26 to March 31, with a second edition already scheduled for October. Arab Style Week will take place at Riyadh's eco-friendly Apex Centre, a white honeycomb-like venue designed by the late celebrated Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid.

In December, the Arab Style Council announced the opening of a regional office in Riyadh and named Saudi Princess Noura Bint Faisal Al-Saud as its honorary president. "The first Arab Style Week in Riyadh will be more than a world-class event, it is a catalyst through which we believe the fashion sector will lead other economic sectors such as tourism, hospitality, travel, and trade," Princess Noura said in a statement on the council's website. Listed as an international fashion week alongside Paris and Milan, the twice-yearly Arab Style Week offers exclusively see-now-buy-now collections and pre-collections.

The line-up for the Riyadh event has not been revealed yet and it remains unclear whether it will limited to modest designs in accordance with the strict dress code observed in Saudi Arabia. The Gulf kingdom, which has some of the world's tightest restrictions on women, requires them to wear, by law, a loose-fitting abaya robe to shroud their bodies in public. Earlier this month, a senior Saudi cleric said Saudi women should not be "forced to wear abayas". The comment was made by Sheikh Abdullah al-Mutlak, a member of the Council of Scholars -- the kingdom's highest religious body.

The government has not said whether it will change the law. But Prince Mohammed has introduced over the past months a series of reforms in favour of women. In January, Saudi women were allowed for the first time ever to enter a football stadium to watch a game and the kingdom is also opening several sectors of the workplace to women. Saudi Arabia has also announced an end to a longstanding ban on women driving, which is to take effect in June. In the past, Arab Style Week have been hosted so far exclusively by Gulf fashion capital Dubai and have included runway darlings Marchesa and Tony Ward. Dubai will continue to host its own parallel Arab Style Week, with the sixth edition slotted for May 9 to May 12. (AFP)

Uniqlo to launch capsule collection by Tomas Maier

Uniqlo has announced it is collaborating with Tomas Maier on a capsule resort collection to be in stores early summer.

Maier, who is the Creative Director of Kering-owned luxury fashion house Bottega Veneta, will produce a range that proposes sophisticated casual style and Uniqlo's first resort wear collection for both men and women.

The concept for the collection is liberation, an idea which resonates with the ethos of Fast Retailing's LifeWear codes. Whilst Maier is sometimes regarded as a minimalist for his work at Bottega Veneta, his collection for Uniqlo is meant to free the wearer from the constraints felt from our complicated lives, offering a pared-down and considered product that is well made and relevant.

Yukihiro Katsuta, head of Uniqlo's Research and Development stated: “LifeWear embodies our belief that individuality comes not from clothes, but the people wearing them. That’s why we devote our energies to create clothes that people will enjoy and value for a long time."

German-born Tomas Maier studied at Paris' Chamble Sundials de la Couture, and then gained experience at a number of well-established maisons such as Sonia Rykiel, Levion and Hermès.

Photo credit: Tomas Maier website

Casual fashion brand Till We Cover recently launched for the first time this month. The brand officially debuted at London Modest Style Week on February 17 and 18.

The U.K.-based clothing brand launched highlighting contemporary clothing for modest women. Brought to the scene by co-founders Ruby Aslam and Shehr Kazmi, the duo teamed together to create this unique niche in the market. "We are thrilled to partner with till we cover and to have showcased their range at LMFW," founder and CEO of LMFW Romanna Bint-Abubaker said in a press release by the company. "Their passion and dedication to producing contemporary clothing of a high quality, coupled with their experience in this sector, ensures their launch will be a success."

The line debuted with a partnership with LMFW in order to introduce the range to the UK market. The 'covered-up' aesthetic of the collection shows modest fashion choices for the modern woman. "There is a need to shift perception and this has provided the perfect platform for us to be able to do that," Aslam said in a statement. Launched last year, it'll be interesting to see how this new brand fares especially in the U.K. market.

LFW: The next generation of talent

The London graduate shows are a headhunter's haven. Scouting for the next generation of talent usually starts at school level, which has seen many a designer's graduation collection snapped up, like Alexander McQueen's Jack the Ripper collection by Issy Blow for 5000 pounds, or John Galliano's Les Incroyables by former Browns owner Mrs Burstein, who bought it for re-sale in her eponymous South Molton Street boutique.

So it is without exception that the Central Saint Martins MA graduate show is one of London Style Week’s most highly anticipated events every February, with talent scouts, boutique buyers and journalists all keen to see the industry’s next generation of talent make their first foray onto the catwalk.

It is a chance for the graduates to be seen on the global fashion stage, following in the footsteps of A-list creatives, the aforementioned McQueen and Galliano, but also Phoebe Philo and Stella McCartney, whose stories all began on that very same runway. Curiously, Philo's graduation collection and file have since gone missing, whereas McCartney's CSM collection made headline news following their graduate catwalk show.

LFW: The next generation of talent

This year's outing saw a runway showcasing the collections from 18 designers, potentially a new hotbed of talents who will no doubt be leading the future design houses we know so well. One such talent is Liam Johnson, who's collection featured a white see-through architectural dress with a rectangular hem and sunset print that was exquisite not just for the craft but for the uniqueness of producing something not seen before or tied to the constraints of commerciality. Johnson is a recipient of the L'Wren Scott Scholarship as well as a Lee Alexander MQueen Foundation beneficiary.

Yuhan Wang, another highlight of the show, took inspiration from hotel curtains, tying hand-painted fabrics together to reveal and conceal various aspects of the female body. Wang told Dazed Digital backstage: “The flat I live in faces a hotel, and I see people passing by every day. Everybody wants to see what’s behind the curtain, what stories are playing out. It became a metaphor then, for me, like how women use their clothes to cover themselves, and what kind of stories are they covering up.”

At the forefront of international fashion

Of course it is no wonder that Central Saint Martins attracts the type of talent of this calibre. Its MA Style course has an international profile second to none. The school has valuable industry links and it is a fact, not a boast, that its graduates practice professionally at the forefront of international fashion.

CSM says its postgraduate course is about leading not following, which is precisely the strength of London on the international fashion map.

Images: Liam Johnson, Yuhan Wang CSM Graduate show; courtesy of Central Saint Martins Graduate

London Style Week announces new Chinese tie-up

London Style Week is currently in full swing and organiser the British Style Council has announced the importance of forging stronger ties with China, as leading Chinese e-tailer Vip.com is confirmed as sponsor for the first time.

As part of its sponsorship of London Style Week, Vip.com will be helping British brands and designers to launch into the ever-expanding China market.

In her speech opening LFW, Caroline Rush, chief executive of British Style Council, said: “I thank you all, our long-term partners and new partners, in particular Vip.com who join us as a sponsor of London Style Week, this season. Vip.com is a leading Chinese e-tailer.

“The teams are here now and all week for those that want to hear more about their platform and their ability to launch businesses into China.”

Jenny Jioe, managing director of fashion at vip.com, added at the event: “The fashion market in China is extraordinarily sophisticated and fast-paced, and hungry for new design talent. Our consumer is aware of London’s creative pedigree, and ready for both news and product. I know from first-hand experience that the brands in London, with all their energy and unbridled creativity, are precisely what we are looking for.”

Vip.com announced as LFW sponsor

Commenting on what Vip.com brings to London-based brands, Rush added: "The nature of working with so many new businesses, is that they don't have the advertising power of the global fashion brands. What they have is incredible products that a fashion-forward Chinese consumer is going to love. Our role is to shine a light on these businesses and work with our partners at Vip.com to introduce these brands to a highly engaged audience in China."

Vip.com is one of China’s top three e-commerce retailers, with annual retail sales of 11.2 billion dollars, 57.8million active customers, over 335 million orders in 2017, and eight individual international sourcing offices. In 2016, Forbes ranked Vip.com as No.2 in its top 100 companies with the highest growth.

The new partnership takes sponsorship at LFW into new, global realms of business and marketing, Paul Tyce, the Chinese e-commerce site's UK country manager explains: "We are going to stage a show that is exclusive run by Vip.com. We will offer live streaming to our customers in China, in-depth cooperation with designers, and fashion and art exhibitions. This isn't just about title sponsorship."

The British Style Council is also working with China’s largest retailer JD.com, which is sponsoring the BFC/Vogue Designer Style Fund prize for the first time this year. The shortlisted designers for the 200,000 pounds prize and year-long mentorship was announced earlier this week, which includes David Koma, Huishan Zhang, Le Kilt, Marques’ Almeida, Molly Goddard and Rejina Pyo.

Image: Courtesy of Vip.com - Jenny Jioe, Vip.com managing director of fashion and Caroline Rush, chief executive of The British Style Council

Roland Mouret presents Style Week ode to free, sensual women

French designer Roland Mouret launched his latest collection in London on Sunday, aligning with the #MeToo movement in a parade celebrating femininity, independence and sensuality.

In the subterranean concrete lobby of the National Theatre, the London-based designer hosted buyers, journalists, bloggers, fashionistas and other Style Week VIPs to highlight his 2018 autumn-winter collection. Models paraded between the ranks of guests following a labyrinthine route set to retro music. Velvet corduroy dresses were worn with transparent tops; soft ties appeared nonchalantly tied around the neck; and lace socks were paired with sandals. Mouret was eager to play with contrasts to explore concepts of femininity -- and his abiding mantra "...we all dress to undress". In red and black, in pale pink or midnight blue, his models subtly revealed garters and low-cut necklines. "Roland Mouret proves that there is practicality in femininity, and femininity is a woman's greatest power," read the collection's accompanying notes.

Roland Mouret presents Style Week ode to free, sensual women

Mouret told AFP he deliberately chose fabrics reminiscent of the 70s -- "still the highlight of women's liberation" -- for his latest designs as he incorporated the current climate into the collection.

Bow silhouette

Spanish fashion house Delpozo, a defector from New York Style Week, also highlighted its latest offerings on Sunday with a slow and romantic show in the cosy setting of London's Royal Institute of British Architects. The location was an hommage of sorts to creative director Josep Font's past life as an architect. For his 2018 autumn-winter collection, the Catalan drew inspiration from French cubist artist Ines Longevial. Font found the works "radiate a harmonious femininity in shape and colour" and sought to incorporate their "simple lines and curvy silhouettes with luminous hues" into his designs.

Pink provides the basis for the collection, while ivory, camel, canary yellow, chalk blue and navy blue feature too. Shorts are cut wide, skirts long, and the coats hang down to mid-thigh. Shirts are studded with polka dots, ankle boots are sequined and dresses feature floral patterns. Meanwhile the designer has styled two types of belts: an "iconic bow silhouette" and another more "organic and floral" offering inspired by lily pads. "Artisanship of leather at its most delicate expression," proclaims the collection's literature. (AFP)


Photos: Roland Mouret / Catwalkpictures

E-commerce brand Vip.com just announced a new partnership with both London Style Week and the British Style Council.

The Chinese e-tailer is the first from its country to become an official sponsor of London Style Week. Vip.com will work with British brands to help them launch on the site and expand their markets. "The fashion market in China is extraordinarily sophisticated and fast paced, and hungry for new design talent," Jenny Jioe, Managing Director of Style at Vip.com, said in a statement. "Our consumer is aware of London's creative pedigree, and ready for both news and product. I know from first-hand experience that the brands in London, with all their energy and unbridled creativity, are precisely what we are looking for."

Currently, Vip.com stands as one of China's top three e-commerce retailers. The site has annual retail sales of 11.2 billion dollars according to a statement released by the company. This site also states it has 57.8 million active customers and over 335 million orders in 2017. As the site is based in a different market, the partnership provides a great opportunity for London Style Week and its brands. "What they have is incredible products that a fashion-forward Chinese consumer is going to love," Caroline Rush, chief executive of the British Style Council, said in a statement. "Our role is to shine a light on these businesses and work with our partners at Vip.com to introduce these brands to a highly engaged audience in China."