Sep 14, 2008
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London Fashion Weeks starts amid fears for its future

Sep 14, 2008

LONDON, Sept 14, 2008 (AFP) - London Fashion Week got under way Sunday with seasoned Irish designer Paul Costelloe presenting his spring-summer 2009 collection, but the event faces a battle for survival.

London, a traditional testing ground for new and experimental designers, is under threat from a scheduling row with the more powerful New York fashion week, which takes place directly before London.

The event in the British capital faces a cut from six days to four because the New York organisers want to push their shows a few days later to give designers more time to prepare their spring-summer collections.

London, which is immediately followed by the Milan shows, is refusing to move because it fears that slimming down to four days could make it less attractive to big-name British designers such as Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood who might decide to go directly from New York to Milan.

The issue is to be thrashed out at a meeting in London Tuesday between the organisers of the world's big four fashion weeks -- Paris, New York, Milan and London.

While London appears set to lose the battle, organisers said they were optimistic.

Hilary Riva, chief executive of the British Fashion Council (BFC), said: "We're still trying for a fair solution. I don't think anyone is setting out to deliberately damage London."

Fashion Week attracts nearly 5,000 buyers, journalists and designers from across the world and injects 20 million pounds (25 million euros, 35 million dollars) into London's economy, according to the council.

The most eagerly awaited shows in London are the collections from veteran British designer Westwood, Christopher Kane and Giles, while Naomi Campbell is expected to model the Issa range.

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