By  on January 19, 2006

LONDON — British designers soon will be granted one of their long-held wishes: Anna Wintour, the English editor of American Vogue, will attend the upcoming London Fashion Week.

A Vogue spokesman said Wintour would be in town for all of London Fashion Week, which is due to run Feb. 14-18.

"Anna likes to go to the London shows and hasn't been for a while," said the spokesman. "She's going there to promote British fashion and the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute's upcoming 'Anglomania' exhibit."

Wintour also will cohost a party here on Feb. 17 with Alexandra Shulman, her counterpart at British Vogue. The party will celebrate London Fashion Week, which has long been neglected, for a variety of reasons, by international buyers and overseas fashion press.

In addition to Wintour, Sarah Bailey, deputy editor in chief of Harper's Bazaar, also will attend the London shows. Harper's Bazaar generally sends one or two editors to the London shows each season, a spokeswoman for the magazine in New York said.

There's more good news on the way for London: The city's shows now will end the day before Milan's shows are due to begin. In the past, there was a three- to five-day gap between London and Milan, which meant most Americans skipped London altogether, for budget and timing reasons, and headed straight for Italy.

"I have been pushing for this for a long time," said Shulman, chairman of the British Fashion Council's press committee. "Ideally, London would take place between Milan and Paris, but there's no room. Nudging up to Milan was our second-best option."

Now buyers and the press can potentially spend the weekend in London before hopping the 90-minute flight to Milan. Shulman said the idea is to make London part of the European show experience for buyers and the press. She and representatives of the British Fashion Council met their Italian counterparts from the Camera Nazionale della Moda in October to hammer out the details.

"I think the new dates are fantastic for London," she said. "It also means the shows can take place alongside different industry events like the Brit Awards [the annual U.K. pop music awards, scheduled for Feb. 15], and the BAFTAs [British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards], which take place on the Sunday night [Feb. 19]."Meanwhile, the new calendar hasn't appeared to have caused any major scheduling problems, so far.

Although the London schedule hasn't been finalized yet, Sir Paul Smith will open the week on Wednesday morning. A spokesman for Julien Macdonald, the other big London name, said he'd encountered no problems at all with scheduling. A date hasn't been set for his show.

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