London Fashion Week: Victoria Beckham, Burberry headline

London (AFP) –


London Fashion Week opens Friday with all eyes on Victoria Beckham, who debuts at the event on the 10th anniversary of her label's launch, and on Burberry's new star designer Riccardo Tisci.

The ex-Spice Girl, celebrating a decade since her brand's 2008 unveiling in New York, has since defied the naysayers and won the respect of her peers.

The Briton now heads a fashion empire valued at £100 million ($131 million) by the industry press, but will be presenting at the country's premiere fashion gathering for the first time.

"Ten years ago, when Victoria Beckham started, many saw her as just another example of a celebrity wanting to have a fashion range with no formal fashion training," University of Westminster Professor Andrew Groves told AFP.

"Through hard work and determination she has proved those early critics wrong."

- 'VB' on Piccadilly -

Ahead of her homecoming of sorts the 44-year-old mother-of-four recently featured on London's legendary Piccadilly Circus advertising screens, fulfilling a childhood dream.

"When I was a kid my parents would always drive us up to London and show us around Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, and... Piccadilly Circus," Beckham told The Daily Telegraph newspaper this week.

"I remember looking up, thinking 'wow, how cool would that be, to literally see your name in lights.'

The designer's show, scheduled for Sunday, is expected to attract a host of VIPs, starting with the Beckham tribe -- her husband David and their four children.

British Vogue magazine, which features them on its October cover, is hoping some former bandmates may also attend.

"Fingers crossed for some Spice Girls on the front row," it wrote.

The other big highlight of London's week, dedicated to the spring-summer 2019 collections and which ends on Tuesday, will see Tisci present his much anticipated first collection for Burberry.

The Italian designer, formerly of Givenchy, replaced Christopher Bailey as chief creative officer of the luxury British fashion house in March and will showcase on Monday.

He was credited with reviving Givenchy during his 12-year tenure there by cultivating links with celebrities.

His arrival at Burberry is intended to reinvigorate the brand following disappointing profits in recent years.

Burberry is relying on Tisci, praised for his ability to blend streetwear with high fashion, to re-energise its high-end presence.

"Riccardo's creative vision will reinforce the ambitions we have for Burberry and position the brand firmly in luxury," chief executive Marco Gobbetti said in a statement.

- No fur -

Naomi Braithwaite, senior lecturer in fashion marketing and branding, Nottingham Trent University, told AFP that Tisci "seems a perfect choice for Burberry."

"His tendency to not be afraid to take creative risks and innovate (are) characteristics that have underpinned Burberry's philosophy in the last few years," she said.

Originally from Taranto, a port city in southern Italy, Tisci trained at Central Saint Martins, a top arts and design college in London.

He has already started to make his own mark on the venerable British brand since arriving, recently unveiling on Instagram a new company monogram.

A white "B" is interwoven with red ribbons to form the initials of Thomas Burberry, who founded the fashion house in 1856.

London Fashion Week will also offer up its usual legion of young talent, starting with Jonathan Anderson on Saturday.

The artistic director of luxury leather goods firm Loewe, considered one of the biggest talents of his generation, will showcase the latest offering from his own J.W. Anderson brand.

Fashionistas are also expected to be out in force Saturday for the debut collection of British It-Girl Alexa Chung, a Swiss Army knife of talents -- from modelling to TV presenting to designing.

With no animal furs on display during the five days of parades, animal rights activists are not expected to repeat past protests, highlighting the evolution of the industry away from the use of fur.