Hundreds of models, stylists and fashion insiders descended on the British capital Friday as the five-day whirlwind of catwalk shows kicked off, bringing the usual heady mix of glamor, parties and beautiful people.
This season, however, organizers are also focusing on pairing technology with fashion, launching a series of talks and projects with Google to help British-based designers go digital.
The aim is for London to be "the most tech-savvy fashion capital in the world," according to British Fashion Council chairman Natalie Massenet, who paired up with Google's U.K. sales director Peter Fitzgerald to launch the fashion week.
Designers have been using social media and the Internet to help drive sales and consumer interest for several years. More and more brands are live-stream their fashion shows, with some allowing fans worldwide to buy designs off their website immediately after models showed them off on the catwalk.
Massenet wants to do more. This week fast-fashion giant Topshop is to share its latest collection with Facebook and Instagram followers before the clothes even hit the catwalk, and Twitter is introducing a new "buy" button for Burberry.
There will even be a human cyborg joining a digital fashion talk during the week.
There's no telling whether the emphasis on tech in fashion is more than a gimmick or a passing phase. Meanwhile, beautifully made clothes, worn by models in real life, remain the main draw. The week features some 60 catwalk shows and presentations by 170 designers, from powerhouses like Paul Smith, Tom Ford and Vivienne Westwood to younger names such as Christopher Kane and Erdem.
Among the highlights on Day 1:
Comfort dressers rejoice: The trend for sporty chic looks like it's here to stay.
Young designer Christopher Raeburn sent his models down the catwalk in loose shirt-dresses, jogging pants, shorts, sweatshirts and matching rucksacks, all in a relaxed, easy-to-wear fit.
The models looked far from slovenly, though, thanks to stylish details such as organza panels, lacing and unusual prints featuring meteorological maps and weather patterns. Fighter pilot suits were reworked into luxury jackets, and lightweight rain parkas came in bright pink and beautiful spring shades.
There wasn't a high heel anywhere — models wore velcro-strap flat sandals that looked like Tevas, the hardy shoe beloved of hikers.
With those shoes and such functional clothes, the models could almost be going on a trek — albeit a very glamorous one.
Bora Aksu has brought the dollhouse to his catwalk.
The Turkish designer kept most of his spring and summer collection soft and saccharine, with designs dominated by billowing gathered skirts, sheer organza sleeves and frills, and delicate crochet and lace details. The first half of the show featured nothing but sweet shades of white, ballet pink and pastel grey-blue.
The designer, known for his romantic and whimsical creations, said the collection was inspired by Queen Victoria's paper dolls and the darker side of fairy tales.
That may be the cue for the model who floated down the catwalk draped in a dramatic purple floor-length veil. The latter half of the collection turned to inky blues and blacks, such as the closing number, an evening gown with a sweeping, see-through lace skirt.