New buzz on UK catwalk with arrival of Armani

The Chanel sunglasses of the fashion industry are turning to London as the New York circus closes today. And, this time, London fashion week promises much more than the rather downbeat affair it has become over the past decade after the huge drift of designers to Paris, Milan and New York.

With a little help from some famous friends, and high expectations surrounding many of the younger designers, there is a genuine excitement about the London leg of the fashion weeks.

Last season, London was effectively reinstated on the fashion map by Anna Wintour, the hugely influential editor of American Vogue, whose presence in the front row marked the end of London’s years in the wilderness.

The message was that if she took the London shows seriously, so must the rest of the fashion industry. While she won’t be attending this time, London is again playing host to more famous faces: designers Giorgio Armani and Tom Ford, who is in town to judge the Fashion Fringe competition for emerging design talent.

Armani, the uncrowned king of Italian fashion, is presenting his Emporio line outside Milan for the first time, and is launching his new Emporio Armani Red capsule collection, 40% of the profits of which will go towards the Global Fund, the agency fighting Aids in Africa.

As is fitting of a brand that has just announced its net profits are up to £154.8m, Armani is marking the occasion with a huge event on Thursday, including an appearance from Chelsea footballer Andriy Shevchenko, and performances from Beyoncé and Bono.

Armani has chosen to hold the event in London to coincide with the reopening of his label’s UK flagship Emporio store. “London is one of the most vibrant cities, a reference point for all the arts, and certainly for fashion,” he said. “I hope that my new stores will add further to the cosmopolitan culture.”

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