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Wife of British PM Samantha Cameron helps kick off London Fashion Week

posted 18 Feb 2011, 10:10 by Mpelembe   [ updated 18 Feb 2011, 11:21 ]

Samantha Cameron, the wife of the British Prime Minister, calls fashion one of the country's most important industries, at the start of London Fashion Week.

London took over the fashion week baton on Friday (February 18), kicking off six days of catwalk shows in a British capital known for its verve and creativity.

Royal bride Kate Middleton, who will marry Britain's Prince William on April 29, brings a new level of interest to the city's catwalks as she cements her status as a style role model and speculation about who will make THE dress for the royal wedding of the year at Westminster Abbey is on everyone's lips.

London is best-known as a showcase for cutting edge talent and avant-garde trends, mixing up-and-coming names like Erdem with established designers like Vivienne Westwood. Middleton is expected to choose a British-designed wedding dress.

One of the big four catwalk fixtures alongside Paris, New York and Milan, London Fashion Week will run until Feb. 23 with both British and international designers showing their autumn/winter 2011 womenswear to an expected audience of 5,000.

One day will also be dedicated to menswear.

The direct value of the fashion industry to the British economy is nearly 21 billion pounds (33.88 billion USD). It is estimated that orders of more than 100 million pounds are placed during fashion week each season, but the months ahead are set to be tough as Prime Minister David Cameron's government implements the harshest austerity measures in decades.

"We feel very upbeat and excited about the week ahead," British Fashion Council chairman Harold Tillman said at the opening on Friday, which was attended by Cameron's wife Samantha, in her new role as an ambassador for the council.

"But no doubt this year will be difficult as we are all suffering alongside many other organisations from the cuts the government have made."

In her opening statement, Cameron said she was honoured to be a liason of the British fashion industry.

"I'm passionate about fashion so it's a real honour to be here as an ambassador to the British Fashion Council. That passion isn't just about how fashion can make you feel, it's about what it can do for our country. People often say that fashion is one of our most important creative industries. Actually, I think they're wrong. I think it's one of our most important industries, full stop," she said.

Friday's shows began with Paul Costelloe, who has just announced a new backer for his womenswear label as well as Caroline Charles and Orla Kiely.

The Irish-born designer relied on tweeds and wools in autumn colours while metallic fabrics in fuscia and emerald brightened the show.

Shapes were short and flirty, with swing coats and shift dresses paying homage to the 1960s.

Looking ahead, one of the week's most sought-after tickets is for the Issa London show on Saturday after Middleton wore a blue Issa gown when she and William appeared before the world's media to announce their engagement.

U.S. designer Tom Ford will make a high-profile appearance too, however only select fashionistas will be allowed to view his designs as he will hold private appointments with the editors of glossy magazines.

Other high-profile shows include Burberry, which will stream its show live on a digital screen in central London's Piccadilly Circus, as well as Mulberry, Vivienne Westwood and Matthew Williamson.