A debut design showcase by singer Rihanna and designer Tom Ford's first proper catwalk show in London are headlining the five-day style extravaganza that begins Friday.
Their star power is piling an extra dose of buzz and glamour onto a growing biannual event that already features industry leaders including Burberry, Vivienne Westwood and others.
Securing a major designer like Ford is a big coup for London Fashion Week, but it's the slew of hot young talent based in the capital that keeps the international fashion pack coming back for more.
"Before people used to skip London. Now people make a point of coming," said Carmen Borgonovo, fashion director of luxury online retailer my-wardrobe.com. "What I love about London designers is that they're all very individual, they're all very unique with their own sensibility. You don't see that variation in other cities so much."
The youngest of the "big four" fashion weeks, London had generally been regarded as the irreverent, idiosyncratic sibling to the slick productions in Milan, Paris and New York. For some time, it was more a place for edgy fashion college graduates than a destination for elite fashion buyers
Yet these days London Fashion Week is a professional, pulled-together affair. Burberry packs in the crowds —and the celebrities —with extravagant catwalk display, while growing corporate sponsorship has seen editors and buyers whizzed from show to show in shiny black Mercedes. The week generates over 100 million pounds ($160 million) worth of orders, and attracts some 5,000 fashion fans from around the world.
Still, considerable resources are pumped into promoting emerging names in London.After all, they could be the next Mary Katrantzou or Christopher Kane — young guns who have burst onto the international scene within just a few seasons.
This season Kane and Katrantzou will have to share the buzz with Rihanna, who is making her first foray into designing with a collection for British high street chain River Island. The British Fashion Council is calling it the "most anticipated collaboration of 2013."
"This has been something I wanted to do ever since I started loving fashion," the singer said in a video posted on British Vogue's website. "Every time I saw something on a rack there was something I wanted to do to change it, and so I thought that the only way I could do that is by designing the perfect thing for me."
Ford, who has dressed everyone from Michelle Obama to James Bond star Daniel Craig, will also be showing his first official catwalk collection in London on Sunday. The former design chief at Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent had previously only staged exclusive presentations here.
Also on the lineup this season for the first time is celebrity favourite L'Wren Scott, the American designer who is a former model and the current partner of Mick Jagger. BritonJulien Macdonald, another designer with a starry following, is returning after a two-season break.
In all, almost 60 runway previews for autumn 2013 will run from Friday to Tuesday.
London Fashion Week will be followed by designer shows in Milan and Paris.