LONDON — The British Fashion Council is battling to save its time slot, which could be cut short during the fall 2009 shows in February.
This story first appeared in the September 9, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The BFC is set to hold a meeting with its counterparts from New York, Milan and Paris during London Fashion Week to discuss New York’s plans to show seven days later than usual next February.
London Fashion Week runs from Sept. 14 through Sept. 19.
New York’s current plans, aimed at allowing designers an extra week to work on collections, would mean London’s show slot would drop from six days to just four.
The Council of Fashion Designers of America plans to push back the start of the 2009 shows to the second Friday of February and the second Friday of September, according to executive director Steven Kolb. “We’re happy to go and talk to see if there might be ways to help London ensure that it has enough days,” he said.
In January 2007, Diane von Furstenberg made a plea to the European contingencies that they push their dates back a week, Kolb said. They agreed to give New York a two-day later start in 2008 and a four-day one in 2009, but that does not suffice, especially in light of Labor Day. “The problem with four days means fashion week in New York is happening Labor Day week,” Kolb said.
Last year the CFDA made another appeal with letters of support from more than 50 fashion executives including Oscar de la Renta, Vera Wang and Ralph Lauren.
“We have no choice. This is not an arbitrary decision,” Kolb said. “The Italian mills are closed in August and Labor Day is a major holiday in this city. It’s impossible to do business on Labor Day.
“I am respectful of every city’s needs and I know Diane is, too,” he said. “Maybe the first day of London could be for local designers.”
“We’re hoping for a fair and equitable solution to the problem, and I remain optimistic,” said Hilary Riva, chief executive of the BFC. “I don’t think anyone is setting out to damage London, but at the same time these other weeks want to get the most for themselves.”
Riva said London would ideally like there to be one travel day between New York and London, and for Milan to start a day later.
The meeting, she added, would likely take place on Sept. 16, and was part of “regular talks” with the other cities. She said the scheduling issue was a particularly sensitive one this year for a variety of reasons.
In 2009, London Fashion Week will celebrate its 25th anniversary. On Sept. 15, Sarah Brown, wife of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, will host a reception at 10 Downing Street to kick off the anniversary year, and to discuss future plans to support London’s design talent.
Riva said her counterparts in the three cities — von Furstenberg, Mario Boselli and Didier Grumbach — have all been invited to the event.
In general, Riva said an abbreviated London Fashion Week would make life even harder for the city’s designers.
“It’s very easy to say that London could be shorter. But we’re the least strong city financially, and cutting short the week would further reduce our ability to bring in revenue,” she said.