London Fashion Week: past pupils honour Louise Wilson on Day 1

Ex-MTV presenter Laura Whitmore on catwalk for Bora Aksu

Fashion sights will be trained on London this weekend and a host of catwalk events at the 61st London Fashion Week which was formally opened by Natalie Massenet, MBA chair of the British Fashion Council at an official breakfast before the first show.

This was later followed by a memorial service in St Paul's Cathedral celebrating the life of Prof Louise Wilson OBE who died in May last year drawing a huge attendance of past pupils and fashion celebrities.

Massenet, in upbeat mood and fresh in from New York fashion week, pointed out that some 800,000 jobs are supported by the UK fashion industry which contributes £26 billion directly to the economy making it more important than the car industry.

“Fashion is a serious business and it’s time that politicians realised its current impact on the economy,” she said, adding that in their continuing efforts to assist young designers the BFC had secured funding for six students to study for a BA and referred to Louise Wilson as one of fashion’s great educators.


Later in St Paul's, Wilson's past pupils gathered in force to pay their respects among them well known names like Mary Katrantzou, Craig Green, Roksanda Ilinic and Simone Rocha.

Also in attendance were Albert Elbaz creative director of Lanvin, Victoria Beckham, Donna Karan and Kanye West all of whom hired her students. As guests filed out of the cathedral a lone horsewoman sitting side saddle and dressed in black by Sarah Burton (now head of Alexander McQueen) was a dramatic reminder of Wilson's youthful equitation skills and a reference to McQueen one of her most famous students whose life was celebrated in the same cathedral a year ago.

Opening the first show, which could have been called 50 shades of grey with its emphasis on tailored tone on tone separates was Jackie Lee, a London-based designer from Korea known for streamlined silhouettes, fluid dresses and long monastic coats.

A distracting motif was a gathered drawstring detail that puckered around the waist – it pulled together, so to speak, more effectively on soft dresses rather than on stiff quilted tunics.

The look was more romantic at Bora Aksu where ex-MTV presenter Laura Whitmore made her second modelling debut this week – she appeared the previous night with Sarah Ferguson, Rupert Everett, Georgia May Jagger and others at Naomi Campbell's Fashion for Relief charity show.

“She’s open to everything so I am used to it now and go with the flow” said Whitmore’s proud mother Pamela in the front row yesterday. Whitmore is long time fan of the Turkish designer Aksu whose sheer dresses with hand crafted and appliqué petals and feathers drew their inspiration from Oscar Wilde’s songbird in “The Nightingale and the Rose”.

The use of jewellery was particularly lovely.

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan

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