LONDON — Changes are afoot at London Fashion Week, Sept. 18 to 22, with a big emphasis on generating business and buzz about London fashion.

Hilary Riva, the new chief executive officer of the British Fashion Council, has increased the overall exhibition area to 21,600 square feet to create more sales space, and has pulled out the restaurant, which last season was Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen.

Riva and her team have created a new zone, Estethica, that will showcase brands emphasizing recycled, organic or free-trade materials or processes. The marquee brand in that group will be Katherine E. Hamnett, a sportswear line with fabrics made from chemicals that are pesticide-, chlorine- and heavy metal-free.

Riva, who made millions in the midmarket clothing business turning companies around, has also lured the U.S. contemporary trade show Designers & Agents, which will show here for the first time this year.

Riva said her overall goal is to generate business and open up London Fashion Week to a wider audience.

“The long-term goal is to engage better with the consumer, London itself and an international audience,” she said.

This year, when she took up her post, Riva made no secret about her intentions to turn a profit. “If the BFC is run as a slick business, then the money we make can be fed right back to the designers.”

The runway tent has undergone some major changes. The new interior will be white instead of black, and has a transparent wall that lets in natural light. Riva said designers preferred a lighter interior. The space accommodates 350 seats — rather than 500 — and has more room backstage and an outside meeting area.

To compete with other cities, London Fashion Week will offer bigger pay packets to models, courtesy of Marks & Spencer. The British retailer plans to set up a special model bursary to attract talent. Riva said the details and finances were being nailed down.

New designers set to show include Biba, Zandra Rhodes and Emporio Armani. Those making a comeback include Allegra Hicks and Orla Kiely.

This story first appeared in the July 26, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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