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London Fashion Week: The Only Cheat Sheet You'll Ever Need

Mary Katrantzou at London Fashion Week AW16 © Getty Images

February means one thing: London Fashion Week is nearly upon us, bringing with it the perfect opportunity to start working on next season’s shopping list.

As the capital’s hottest fashion talent adds the finishing touches to their collections, there’s just enough time to note these key dates in your monogrammed diary and catch up on the designers to know now…

When is London Fashion Week?

The A/W '18 shows will begin on Friday 16th February with a catwalk presentation from BFC NEWGEN recipient d Richard Malone. It will continue until the evening of Tuesday 20th, when Natalia Vodianova's exclusive Fabulous Fashion Fund party for the Naked Heart Foundation will round off the proceedings. Editors and influencers alike will then be hopping on the plane to Milan for the next round of shows...

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Where is it held?

The fashion circus of editors and bloggers, buyers and ‘influencers’ will head to Brutalist landmark The Shore Studios at 180 The Strand for the third season running. The event space, which has previously hosted Louis Vuitton's Series 3 exhibition, features a dedicated designer showroom, catwalk space and - crucially - plenty of places to recharge your iPhone. The event was previously held at Brewer Street Car Park in Soho.

Burberry A/W'15 © Getty Images

While a fair fraction of brands on the show schedule will choose to present at Shore Studios, others will have spent months scouting out a different venue. Most of these will be clustered around Central London.

How often does it take place?

Fashion Week comes around twice a year, with the autumn/winter collections shown in February and the spring/summer collections making their debut in September. Confused? The schedule was originally introduced so that editors and buyers could decide upon key looks for the upcoming season months before they’d arrive in the shops and on the pages of magazines. With social media making fashion more immediate and increasing numbers of designers opting for the ‘see now, buy now’ model, the traditional Fashion Month system has been called into question, but for now, it’s a case of business as usual…

How long is it?

Major spoiler alert: Fashion Week doesn’t actually last for a week. Counterintuitive, we know. Instead, it takes place over five days, giving fashion editors a moment of respite before jetting off to Milan to catch the Gucci show.

Which shows are the hottest tickets?

London’s show line-up isn’t short of big names. Burberry is predictably a major draw for the fashion crowd – and not just because the Brit heritage brand typically boasts the starriest front row and an in-show musical performance. Shows from the likes of Simone Rocha, Roksanda, Mulberry and Mary Katrantzou are usually amongst London’s most talked-about. For jaw-dropping attention to detail with a healthy dose of kitsch, look to shoe designer Sophia Webster's presentation.

Sophia Webster S/S'16 © Getty Images

Which new designers should we watch out for?

If you’re on the lookout for the next Christopher Kane or Gareth Pugh, take heed of this season’s line-ups for NEWGEN and Fashion East, sponsorship programmes which have long acted as talent incubators for some of London’s best design talent. Halpern, Marta Jakubowski and Sadie Williams are amongst the names on NEWGEN’s roster this year; we're also fans of newcomer Clio Peppiatt's eclectic style.

What should you wear to fashion week?

Of all the four major fashion capitals, London’s prevailing sartorial mindset has always been ‘anything goes,’ whether that’s Fragglish faux fur coats in neon hues (thanks, Shrimps) or a Topshop steal. While show-goers no longer have to traverse the precarious cobbles of Somerset House, we’d still recommend flats or a chunky heel – trainers have never been more stylish, and Fashion Week is tiring

Is it open to the public?

We’re sorry to break it to you, but Fashion Week is very much an industry-only event for fashion buyers, writers and 'tastemakers' (with the odd Made In Chelsea cast member thrown in for good measure.) Unless you're related to Anna Wintour or can boast billions of Instagram followers, it's a case of ‘your name’s not down, you’re not coming in.’ Even if you’ve worked in fashion for years, tickets for major shows like Burberry and Christopher Kane are like gold dust. Still want in on some of the action? That's where London Fashion Week Festival comes in...

Christopher Kane A/W'16 © Getty Images

What is London Fashion Week Festival?

A four-day event that’s open to the fashion-loving public, London Fashion Week Festival (formerly known as London Fashion Weekend) promises an insider’s perspective on the industry. Just like its sister event, the line-up features catwalk shows from the city’s best designers, talks from a host of industry talent and plenty of opportunities to shop pieces from big brands at discounted rates.

When does it take place?

This year's event will take place from Thursday 22nd to Sunday 25th September at Shore Studios (just like the real deal). Ticket prices start at £20 for the bronze ticket package, and you can snap them up at www.londonfashionweekfestival.com.

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