F.I.T’S ‘LONDON FASHION’ SPOTLIGHTS U.K. DESIGNERS

Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg

NEW YORK — Tony Blair isn’t the only leader in the U.K. helping the U.S. rally.
Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, is expected to be on hand at F.I.T.’s museum for tonight’s opening bash for “London Fashion,” a show that highlights some of Britain’s most outrageous designers.
The event is being held in conjunction with U.K. w/ N.Y., a two-week festival of performances, retail events and exhibitions that runs through Oct. 28. Unlike other components of the program, F.I.T.’s exhibition will run through Jan. 12.
Hussein Chalayan, John Galliano, Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood are among the British designers whose work is on display. London Fashion’s curator, Valerie Steele, checked out scores of vintage stores, connected with friends of friends including former Sex Pistols roadies, pulled things from her own closet and pored over 50,000 items.
“I had no idea so many bondage trousers had been produced,” she said. “We found some amazing punk T-shirts, really outrageous and profoundly shocking.”
While in France and Italy, good taste is often equated with a certain amount of restraint, that is not always the case in London, Steele said. Some, like McQueen and artist Damien Hirst, “share a real willingness to go beyond good taste,” she noted.
The blueprint for U.K. w/ N.Y. was put together three years ago by a group of executives, artists and designers. Philip Warner, president of Asprey & Garrard and the event’s chairman, said, “It was a group of British retailers with New York-based stores that first hit upon the notion of producing a festival as a means of raising the profile of the city [London].”
Asprey & Garrard, Links of London, Thomas Pink, Henri Bendel, Holland & Holland, Burberry, Bergdorf Goodman and the Terence Conran Shop are among the retailers showing some respect for the Union Jack with in-store events. British wares, concerts, art exhibits and seminars are being staged throughout Manhattan during the two-week period.
The event’s centerpiece, Great Expectations, will include fashion presentations from 12 British style nobles, including Stella McCartney and Rick James; wearable electronics from Philips Design and textile maker Goix, and runway shows by Belinda Robinson and Oswald Boetang.