historic london fashion week shows you need to see

Sit back, relax, and take in the decadence and glamour of some of London's most seminal fashion brands in the 80s and 90s.

by Lynette Nylander
17 February 2017, 5:39pm

Bloggers peacocking outside shows, FROW celebrity sightings, and lavishly sponsored after parties — London Fashion Week descends on the capital for another season to set the tone for how we will be dressing for the next six months. LFW has changed dramatically since the 80s and 90s; shows weren't so glossy, but they were a whole lotta' fun. We've delved into the archive and dug out some of the most important shows of the last three decades. Sadly, some brands have come and gone, but their influence (and fun) can be seen in the clips below. Enjoy!

Boy London Acid Collection, 1988
Stephane Raynor — creator of iconic fashion label BOY LONDON — spent a lot of time in Ibiza during the 80s and was inspired to make this collection based around club life there and in London. It's a joyous celebration of acid house's heyday.

BodyMap spring/summer 90
BodyMap was one of the most important brands of the 1980s. Known primarily for its body-conscious clothing, graphic prints, and groundbreaking fashion shows, its founders Stevie Stewart and David Holah were all about shock and awe.

John Galliano's first show, 1984
At this point, we know the legend of John Galliano pretty well. But before the Dior days, the Margiela creative directorship, or the public meltdown, John was a student at Central Saint Martins, Class of 84. With no money, but a lot of talent, John created his Les Incroyables collection that was inspired by the French Revolution. The collection was bought in its entirety by Browns and the rest, as they say, is fashion history! 

Bernadette Corporation at The ICA, early 90s
Party organizers turned underground fashion collective Bernadette Corporation disrupted the industry in the early 90s. It's members Bernadette van Huy, John Kelsey, and Antek Walzcak were elusive, shying away from the spotlight. Instead Bernadette Corporation was noted for its merging of performance, fashion, and art.  Bernadette was known for taking thrift store finds to enrich its collections, which were always a reflection of contemporary culture. Watch here.

Katherine Hamnett, 1985 and 1991
Katharine Hamnett is one of British fashion's true pioneers. Her political T-shirts pioneered a 'wear it on your chest' activism in fashion, still very relevant today. T-shirts aside, Katherine also made some of the most extraordinary ready-to-wear that came out of that 80s and 90s, all while lobbying for a more ethical and sustainable fashion industry, less racism, and nuclear disarmament. Legend!

Duffer of St George, 1992
Duffer's founders Eddie Prendergast, Barrie Sharpe, Marco Cairns, and Clifford Bowen revolutionized streetwear in the 80s. Their store on D'Arblay Street in Soho became a hub for London's most important fashion talent. Relive the good times with this clip from Duffer's 5th Circle Catwalk Show at The National Theatre, with commentary from Barrie himself.

John Maybury/ Rifat Ozbek, 1989
Before John Maybury was a big-time film director, he was a Saint Martins student collaborating with fellow student, designer Rifat Ozbek. The collection was screened during London Fashion Week in 1989, but its accompanying film lives on. Look out for i-D cover star Yasmin Le Bon, who was one of the models that entered its colorful kaleidoscopic galaxy.

Christopher Nemeth's Hard Work, 1994
Christopher Nemeth was a key figure in 80s London's fashion scene, one that centered around The House of Beauty and Culture, of which he was a founding member. In his Hard Work show, Christopher collaborated with photographer Mark Lebon and stylist Judy Blame (with whom he created many one-of-a-kind garments) in Tokyo for this suit-heavy outing from 94.

Joe Casely Hayford fall/winter 91
Before Casely Hayford became a father/son duo, Joe was a celebrated London designer in his own right. His shows were a hot ticket, as exhibited in this clip from fall/winter 91, with models dancing down the runway in black leather and red separates.


Text Lynette Nylander
As chosen by Max Clark

London Fashion Week
John Galliano
fashion history
bernadette corporation
Katherine Hamnett
joe casely-hayford
christopher nemeth
boy london
duffer of st george