Wednesday, 31 October 2012

October 2012: British Fashion At Its Peak

As someone who has lived in London her whole life, I can safely say that fashion has become a way of life. In fact, it is so integrated into daily life that decisions about style, although made subconsciously, are strongly influenced by the wonderfully creative industry of fashion. You could call it a certain pressure that comes with living in one of the world’s fashion capitals, but I prefer to think of this as a means of expression; in a city where conversation on the transport system is a rarity, style acts as a method of communication to fellow Londoners, as well as a subtle way in which one distinguishes oneself from the crowd. 

Over the last few years, on prestigious occasions such as the Royal Wedding, Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the 2012 Olympic Games, the world’s focus has turned to Britain multiple times. Where does fashion fit into this? Well, let’s take the Royal Wedding, for example. Who, of the two billion people who tuned in to watch the ceremony, could forget Kate’s stunning wedding dress, the object that every girl- bride or not- envied, adorned with lace that so tenderly hugged her silhouette. Not to mention the maid-of-honour’s outfit that caused a Twitter meltdown! British designer Alexander McQueen was well known for his uniquely eccentric pieces of art, and after his unfortunate demise, the baton was passed down to Sarah Burton, the mastermind behind the two timeless dresses that defined the Royal Wedding. It is no wonder, then, that Royal Wedding fever inspired a 27% increase in McQueen sales worldwide! Time to applaud a British designer? Correct!

It is, however, the bitter truth of life that only a small percentage of us can afford the designer beauty that is McQueen. And so, right on cue, Topshop steps in! Sophisticated or sexy, grunge or girly, Topshop welcomes all with open arms, cheery smiles and affordable prices. The humongous five-story flagship store towers above Oxford Circus station, an attraction in itself. The Topshop experience, though, is not simply about fashion. Within the 90000 square feet of Topshop Oxford Circus is a nail bar, a cafe, a hair salon, a make-up counter, a sweet shop, and a pathway to yet another great British brand, Miss Selfridge. Topshop has taken into consideration how special and memorable the shopping experience should be, and more than 150 such shopping experiences are now available internationally, as Topshop now have branches in Asia, Europe and the Americas. Thinking outside the box? Check!

British fashion would not be complete without street style. Walking just 200 meters down Liverpool Street, almost every style is represented with an added London twist - the chic tailoring of the commuter, the washed-out, vintage denim of the hipster and the mystically celestial boho-babe all wear their outfits with fierceness, with confidence and with pride. These extra qualities provide a source of inspiration to others, either to dare to wear a certain item of clothing or even to step out of one’s style comfort zone and try something new. Just last week, I saw this season’s must have khaki parka jacket on the Underground, with the London twist I mentioned previously- on the back of the jacket was a labyrinthine, intricate diamante pattern. Such a love-at-first-sight scenario it was! Do we have the ability to mesmerize with style? I say ‘YES!’

Here in Britain, we like to use our surroundings as muses for our stylistic decisions. We live in one of the most multicultural countries in the world, and therefore foreign influences are continually ushered into the spotlight. You just have to look at the current trends to see how we incorporate international styles into ours; the paisley from India, the African Aztec prints and Italy’s timeless lace pieces are all gracing our high streets as we speak. And just as America has Hollywood, we have the monarchy. The ‘Kate Middleton Effect’ shows no sign of slowing down, for every brand she touches, every piece of clothing she wears, is on the fast-track route to success. British fashion has, in my opinion, only just found its place in the spotlight. The show is still to come, folks.

'Savage Beauty' by Alexander McQueen
Written by guest Blogger Sharlene Gandhi, follow or tweet her: @Sharlene_Gandhi
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