Londoners adore fashion. We take risks, fall on our faces, but get dressed again the next day only to turn heads worldwide with our irreverent style. Step back in time and picture Kings Road and Carnaby Street in the 60’s, when the Mary Quant mini-skirts matched with the Vidal Sassoon five-point-cut and set the tone for the rest of the decade. Now, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, has every designer determined to dress her next. Fashion houses seek a global showcase on the royal stage and a guarantee that their pieces will sell out. The wife of Prince William had her wedding gown designed by Sarah Burton, who took over Alexander McQueen’s eponymous fashion label upon his passing. McQueen was an alumnus of Central St. Martin’s, where Stella McCartney and Zac Posen also studied fashion. The city’s great designers, such as Jimmy Choo, have also hailed from London College of Fashion. Today, these are London’s finest labels we can’t get enough of yet.
Since Dame Vivienne Westwood first fused punk music with her debut designs during the 1970’s at the Kings Road shop SEX, she has gone on to win the British Designer of the Year award three times. Controversial and political, her unique and vibrant designs are worn by everyone from rock star Gwen Stefani to Camilla, Duchess of Cambridge.
Top Shop has skillfully created a hybrid between fast, cheap fashion and quality design, making it the perfect sport for purchasing trendy, transient pieces. Avoid the utter mayhem of the Oxford Circus store by visiting on weekdays. Look for Kate Moss’s new collaboration with the brand, (vintage floral; bohemian blouses) another sell-out right on the fashion zeitgeist.
There may not be a Ted Baker living in London, but this imagined-fashion icon from Glasglow has a reputation for smart, contemporary shirtmaking. Now, the name is a quirky brand for men and women—the destination for those in search of chic, sometimes girly, dresses and well-tailored items including suits for the blokes.
Talk about a reversal of fortunes. Chief Creative and Executive Officer Christopher Bailey has taken a down-at-heel raincoat brand and turned it into a powerhouse of fashion. Last season, he turned the blanket-style shawl into an Autumn/Winter 2014 trend to watch. Bailey is British style personified, and Burberry, with its hallmark plaid and luxe all-weather wear, is perhaps the city’s most archetypal design house.
Hailed by American Vogue as "the designer making the biggest waves in British fashion,” Alice Temperley counts Brit beauties Emma Watson, Keira Knightley, and Kate Beckinsale as loyal fans of her sleek, sophisticated garments. For a less expensive version of the line, visit John Lewis. Here, her Somerset range has been the shop’s fastest-selling fashion brand of all time.