London Fashion Week gets motoring in a West End car park

Plenty of surprises as London’s fashion spectacle gets under way

London Fashion Week opened yesterday in a Soho car park, a far cry from its previous location in the neoclassical Somerset House, ending its six-year sponsorship by Vodafone.

The Brewer Street car park, an Art Deco building, is located in a maze of narrow streets in the West End, now steadily being gentrified. The area was gridlocked yesterday with crowds, traffic jams and heavy downpours as visitors struggled to enter and navigate the 1929 building, housing more than 150 designer showrooms and a show space created by the David Collins Studio.

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In another departure from the previous format,

Natalie Massenet


, chairwoman of the

British Fashion Council

and founder of, did not formally open the event, when she has usually outlined BFC’s strategy and industry support. Instead, she issued a short video quoting sales of £27 billion (€37 billion) for 2015 with a forecast of £32 billion by 2019.

In another surprise move earlier this month, Ms Massenet resigned from Net-a-Porter ahead of its merger with Italian retailer Yoox.

The first to show spring/ summer 2016 was London-based Korean designer Jackie Lee, with a sunny collection of soft silk pyjama suits and easygoing tunics in seaside stripes of candy pink, green and blue.

Lee uses tailoring in unobtrusive ways, the better to highlight her layering of panels and pleats. She finished the show with little bird print and laser cut maxi dresses that were fresh and feminine.

Later, Bora Aksu sent out an equally pretty collection drawing on memories of childhood summers in his native Turkey. He used soft tailoring and delicate transparent overlays of tulle and organza to good effect in the first part of the show, though towards the end some of the dresses looked like elaborate patchworks of ornamental doilies.

Last night also included the opening of Unfold, a showcase of 11 young Irish designers at the ICA on the Mall, while earlier in the evening Paul Costelloe opted for a gilded salon in the Café Royal for his collection.

His baby doll dresses and voluminous tent and trapeze shapes in ornate brocades were a throwback to the 1960s, while coats in bright orange or two-tone neoprene were more tailored, but overall the show had a sense of costume rather than modernity.

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan is Irish Times Fashion Editor, a freelance feature writer and an author