CAROLINE RUSH described this season's London Fashion Week as "the perfect storm". The British Fashion Council chief executive believes that the autumn/winter 2013-14 schedule was one of the capital's strongest to date - thanks to the timing (following the London 2012 Olympics), its selection of "incredible" diverse talent, and the fresh bout of "energy and enthusiasm" brought by new BFC chairman, Natalie Massenet.
"We've been building on strengthening London Fashion Week over several seasons, but now it's almost the perfect storm," she told us. "It's post-London 2012, where there was a huge amount of attention on the UK. We have incredible designers - not just creatively, but which are now developing sustainable profitable businesses - and the internet now gives immediate access to a global audience."
Thanks to a partnership with Righster and YouTube, 21 of this season's shows were broadcast live online this season - not even taking into account the social efforts from the likes of Burberry and Topshop, labels which consistently push the bounds of public interactivity. And speaking of Topshop, Rush was delighted at the increase of British high street presence on this season's schedule.
"It's an opportunity for the general public to access fashion and trends that all start here at LFW, so it's no bad thing at all - [high street brands] are all building international businesses too, so it makes sense to show here when they've got the world's attention and international retailers and department stores in town," she said. "Of course Topshop have been part of London Fashion Week for many years supporting NEWGEN - they're an incredible global fashion brand in their own right now."
Other high street brands to join the schedule this year included Whistles and River Island, which unveiled the results of its fashion collaboration with Rihanna.
"It's fantastic, Rihanna's become this huge style icon with an incredible international audience, it's great to see," said Rush. "There's a really positive feeling not only in terms of the designer-end of the spectrum but also the high street. It's a great way to communicate British style to an audience that maybe can't afford designer fashion. It's fun."
With a record number of US buyers attending the London shows this season and catwalk debuts from the likes of fashion heavyweights L'Wren Scott and Tom Ford - not to mention the constant presence of Vogue March cover girl and model-of-the-moment Cara Delevingne and stars such as Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel gracing the front rows - Britain was firmly under the world's spotlight. And Rush believes that the ever-increasing emphasis on star-studded front rows and celebrity endorsements is no bad thing.
"It drives media coverage which in turn drives sales," she explained. "It's a good way for the public to identify with the brand and understand who their supporters are. It may well be that they aren't already a follower and a supporter of the designer, but then a celebrity will bring them to discover that designer. We've got great talent here and that's what makes it so exciting."