Location, location, location: the meaning behind London fashion week venues

From the Freemasons’ Hall to a former Eurostar terminal, fashion show settings are increasingly varied and unusual. But what do they mean? As LFW kicks off, the Guardian’s architecture critic explains

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Location, location, location: the meaning behind London fashion week venues
Power dressing at Preen at City Hal / © Rex Features

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Location, location, location: the meaning behind London fashion week venues
Power dressing at Preen at City Hal / © Rex Features

From the soundtrack to the seating to the paper on which the tickets are printed, every element of a fashion show is orchestrated to send a message – and that includes the venue. Over the years at London fashion week, front rows have been constructed in deserted office buildings (Christopher Kane), nightclubs (Gareth Pugh) and abandoned tube stations (Anya Hindmarch), each acting in tandem with the collection. Official venues, meanwhile, have included an NCP car park, a former Eurostar station and tents in Chelsea. Here, the Guardian’s architecture critic decodes the meanings of some of the most popular, and weirdest, LFW venues.

The venue: City Hall, Preen, 2015
The meaning: You’re after a good selfie backdrop

As a firm favourite of Michelle Obama and Samantha Cameron, no venue could be more appropriate for Preen to use than London’s seat of government. Affectionately known as the mayor’s bollock, Norman Foster’s glass-and-steel testicle provided the backdrop for a collection that was apparently “inspired by modern architecture and Michael Clarke’s ballet”. The building houses a grand spiralling walkway that corkscrews through the central glass atrium, intended to be a public route to allow citizens to see the workings of democracy, taking them up to a piazza at the summit, known as London’s living room. It has been closed to the public ever since the building opened, though – and Preen missed a trick not having models cascading down the spiral. That said, health and safety may have had a word beforehand.[…]

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