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February 25, 2010 7:49 PM

The Early Show

When the hoopla of the 25th anniversary of London Fashion Week died down last year, I think a lot of people were wondering what the British Fashion Council had up its sleeve this time around. The fall season --...

When the hoopla of the 25th anniversary of London Fashion Week died down last year, I think a lot of people were wondering what the British Fashion Council had up its sleeve this time around. The fall season -- which ended Wednesday with a string of polished men's wear shows -- may have been low-key, but it was an organized affair. Face it, not words in the past that often applied to London Fashion Week. British designers used to seem to take sadistic delight in holding one show in some dingy space in west London south of the Thames, and the next one in an even dingier spot on the fringes of the city in north London. Add rain, and you can imagine the hours spent in taxis shuttling hither and yon.

This time round, thanks to a herculean effort on the part of organizers, nearly all of the shows took place within the same half-mile radius, which meant that nearly everything started on time -- give or take 20 minutes. In fact, the shows were so ridiculously "punctual" that even British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman and the top brass from the BFC were on occasion spotted dashing for their seats.

The BFC also offered London¹s designers the opportunity to stream their shows live on the organization's Web site, which meant that time-pressed editors didn¹t even have to show up at the venue to see the collection (a harbinger of things to come?).

But nothing beats a live performance, and few shows could rival the clubby, intimate atmosphere of the E. Tautz men¹s wear presentation on Wednesday. Patrick Grant personally presented his tailored clothing collection in a small town house with a fire roaring in the hearth. He offered up details on each piece, such as the origin of a handwoven Harris Tweed, or how the famously fashionable Duke of Windsor inspired a certain cardigan.

And while Burberry offered its fans around the world the chance to watch the show in 3-D, the live performance was thundering with energy. Both Kate Hudson and Claire Danes were literally slack-jawed and speechless after the show ended ⿹ and both needed to be prodded for a quote about the collection.

The suicide, 10 days earlier, of star British designer Alexander McQueen definitely cast a shadow over the week. But scores of people paid homage to McQueen by leaving notes to him on a wall set up by the BFC at the show venue, and in the end the designers did what he would have wanted them to do: Carried on.
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