September 19, 2014 

125 Magazine

This week I was interviewed about my book ‘Why Fashion Matters’ for 125 Live, a unique photographic event incorporating a major exhibition and print sale plus photographic workshops and guest lecture series featuring creative leaders from across the industry, being run by 125 Magazine

There is still so much going on… until the 28th September.

September 16, 2014 

House of St. Barnabas

I’m off to the House of St. Barnabas again tomorrow, and I just wanted to tell you about it because it’s such a great place.


Their vision is to create a future where sustained employment is a reality for those affected by homelessness.

The house creates unique work experience opportunities through their Employment Academy, which operates at the heart of the not-for-profit members’ club in Soho.

They really are social pioneers driven by helping others to forge ahead. The house is a place to meet, connect, exchange and realise ideas.

I always come away feeling inspired.

September 14, 2014 

London: Wonderland

Last year Brooke McCord graduated from PG Cert in Lifestyle & Fashion Journalism and is now Online Editor of Wonderland magazine. LCF News caught up with Brooke to tell us why she finds London an inspiring place to study, work and play.

Sadie Clayton

Read more…

September 11, 2014 

Restless London

Over the years I have traveled to many fashion cities from the established – New York, Paris, Milan; the emerging – Shanghai; the influential – Antwerp – and those that used to weld influence – Chicago.

They all have particular characteristics and perspectives on fashion but none have the restlessness and energy that is London. I am aware that what I do is assess other fashion cities through London’s fashion prism as London epitomizes how the fashion industry relies on a complex and sophisticated set of relationships, connections and references.

Sibling. London Collections: Men SS15

This ecology gives London a fashion that is restless and edgy. Partly a product of its great history of trade; successive waves of immigrants who brought new and unique making and manufacturing skills and a history of inventive retailing it is also reliant on a culture of museums and galleries; theatre and performance, a great literature tradition and art school heritage. The result is new approaches to fashion media, commentary and design thinking.

These elements all exist in other cities but as the nature of fashion in a city is symbiotically linked to the metropolis that it grows out of; I would also argue that, the democratic, the love of the under-dog, the politically challenging disrespect of orthodoxy also infects the character of fashion in London.

September 10, 2014 

Fashion and Feminism

Djurdja Bartlett, an expert on Soviet fashion and Senior Research Fellow at London College of Fashion, has written how ‘following the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, one of Lenin’s closest collaborators, Alexandra Kollontai, was shunned by her comrades because of her good looks, her smart dresses and her sexually liberated views.’ Bartlett continues on to remark, ‘This made me wonder, once again, why the Left historically has had such a hostile relationship to fashion?’ It is a question I often consider myself, particularly since we still wrestle with the legacy of such prejudices, which are not just the preserve of the Left. For most people, to be politically engaged means not showing an overt interest in fashion.

Alexandra Kollontai
Alexandra Kollontai

I myself am a feminist and a fashion enthusiast. For some, this statement just can’t be true for being a feminist means avoiding all things feminine and fashionable in order to demonstrate a commitment to the cause. Their logic seems to be that Fashion is frivolous and fun, and that feminism is neither. But I see no contradiction. Politics, intellectual engagement and fashion are not mutually exclusive, whatever side of the political spectrum you fall on.

As head of what is essentially a female college – 85% of the students at London College of Fashion are female – feminism is very important to me. I have written much on this particularly in my book, ‘Why Fashion Matters’. Strong, confident, well educated women are important in all aspects of our lives and it is an issue not just for our female students but for our male students too. All aspects of society can benefit from feminism. I would therefore urge all students to get behind the feminist issue.

The women who have helped inspire my ideas and thoughts about feminism throughout my career include the artist, Frida Kahlo; Doris Lessing – author of Golden Notebook, a seminal examination of the budding sexual and women’s liberation movements in the first part of the 20th Century; Julia Kristeva, a philosopher, literary critic, psychoanalyst, sociologist and feminist; and Nina Simone, who was not only a singer and musician but a civil rights activist. In terms of the fashion industry Mucca Prada and Rei Kawabuko have done much to strengthen the role of women in what can be a male dominated industry.

September 5, 2014 


On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of attending the Horst exhibition, a definitive retrospective of the work of Horst P. Horst (1906-99), one of the 20th century’s master photographers, with Carmen Dell’Orefice and David Downton.

photo 5 (3)
From left clockwise: Carmen, David and me, Carmen and David.

Horst P. Horst (1906-99) created images that transcend fashion and time. He was a master of light, composition and atmospheric illusion, who conjured a world of sensual sophistication. In an extraordinary sixty-year career, his photographs graced the pages of Vogue and House and Garden under the one-word photographic byline ‘Horst’.

On Thursday, to celebrate her 70 year career and the opening of Horst, the modelling legend invited me to an in-conversation with David Downton, the fashion illustrator, at Claridges.

photo 1 (3)
David Downton’s Pencils

photo 3 (4)
Clockwise from top left: Carmen with Nicholas Oakwood and friend. Carmen with Carmen Jade Parfitt and Yasmin Le Bon, Carmens’ chair for the in-conversation.

Needless to say it has been a great week!

Read more about Carmen Dell’Orefice…

September 2, 2014 

Pigeons and Peacocks


Issue seven of Pigeons and Peacocks landed on my desk this morning – I can’t wait to read it!

For those of you who don’t know it’s a student led magazine here at London College of Fashion. Launched in 2008 it is a unique magazine with an independent attitude and an individual style. An all important platform for emerging talent, new taste makers and future voices of the industry. This annual dose of P&P showcases the work and creativity of designers, stylists, artists, photographers and journalists and is getting bigger and better with each issue.

The Pigeons and Peacocks website is also brilliant.

September 1, 2014 

Fashion as a Transformative Force

I recently spoke to the Times Higher about our ‘Fashion Education in Prisons’ programme, which sees fashion students work with offenders on an innovative projects which helps boost skills and support rehabilitation. Part of this project is supported by the Sir John Cass Foundation and incredibly important part of our Better Lives campaign at the college. We were so grateful to receive the honour of the ‘Big Society Award’ for our work. Our project where a group of female prisoners from HMP Send in Surrey worked with the college to produce a fashion magazine, also won Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year at the Times Higher Education Awards last year.

Read the Times Higher Article here…


Read more about our Prison Project here…

August 20, 2014 

Intelligent Life: On Yohji Yamamoto

I recently spoke to the Economist’s Intelligent Life Magazine about Yohji Yamamoto, who many of you will know is one of my favorite designers.

“Yohji will describe himself sometimes as a dressmaker, but I would say in many ways he is the last of the great couturiers. In the early 1980s, he and a whole cohort of Japanese designers – Kenzo, Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo – came to Paris and really challenged what fashion was about. People just didn’t get what they were doing, deconstructing and re-thinking what clothes are. They moved fashion on from something that was about status and allure, to something more intellectual, more empowering and experimental. Yohji is the epitome of that.

Yohji Yamamoto Menswear

He’s been at the top of his game for all these years, and yet he is still able to surprise. He will take classic things – at tuxedo, a bomber jacket, a wedding dress – and turn them on their head. But he doesn’t force designs on the body, he works with it. His clothes are not really tight, though they will be fitted around the waist if he wants them to be, or fitted in the sleeve. He balances innovation with the fact that clothes need to have a relationship with the person wearing them. If you’re wearing Yohji, you’re not having to struggle to pull your skirt down, or sit in tight trousers. He doesn’t like stilettos or very high heels – it’s about freedom. That’s the thing I really like: it feels like you are empowered by his clothes, because yo’re not being restricted. And it doesn’t only apply to women. The film-maker Wim Wenders is a great Yohji fan: He says put his clothes on and they will feel like second skin.”

Read more in The Economist.

© 2014 Frances Corner