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The bluffer’s guide to London Fashion Week

See and be seen: this year’s LFW is set to be a celeb-fest, with the writers’ strikes meaning more A-listers are likely to be in town  (Dave Benett/Getty)
See and be seen: this year’s LFW is set to be a celeb-fest, with the writers’ strikes meaning more A-listers are likely to be in town (Dave Benett/Getty)

From Friday, London Fashion Week arrives and with it comes never-ending FOMO. Watch on as the big-name designers and models rub shoulders with the chicest of the A-list, while the rest of us are left craning our necks for a glimpse of the good life. But while there’s usually only a handful of great parties in town — most off-limits if you don’t know someone who knows someone — there are ways to get involved. And you should: this year is a big one, as the British Fashion Council celebrates the 30th anniversary of its NEWGEN initiative. Beyond the red velvet ropes and the impossible-to-catch catwalks, London Fashion Week continues in bars, hotels and restaurants across the capital. Here, then, is our bluffer’s guide to LFW.

The shows to be seen at

While the public are generally kept away from the headline acts, smaller shows offer a glimpse of the glam life. L Saha has just a handful of tickets remaining on lsaha.co.uk for its Spring/Summer ’24 show on September 15 with a 7pm-10pm catwalk, followed by a party. The event’s location is revealed upon booking, but it’s in central London. Elsewhere, a number of evening events, exhibitions and catwalks are on throughout the week, with the best of these including the Condé Nast College Ten Year Anniversary Celebration (September 14), the Models of Diversity exhibition (September 15) and the Silk Road Fashion, London: Destiny catwalk (September 16). These hard-to find-evenings are intentionally elusive, but RSVP via the LFW schedule online and you’ll soon be mixing with those in the know. Devonshire Square (EC2M, dsq.london) is also hosting a catwalk with Emerge on September 16, with front row tickets available. Oh, and be on the lookout for British designer Ashley Williams’s off-schedule show, set for September 16 (Brick Lane is said to be the place to be). Details for all of this are at londonfashionweek.co.uk.

The celebs to spot

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Every September, film stars appear on the Frow but, as NYFW has shown, there are likely to be more than usual in attendance this season owing to the writers’ strikes. With their red-carpet schedules cleared, they might instead be dressing up for LFW. Don’t be surprised to spot Sydney Sweeney, above, who arrived in London for the Rolling Stones’s album launch. Those involved with Vogue World, which takes place in the West End on September 14, will no doubt stick around for LFW too. These include Kate Moss, Cara Delevingne, Adwoa Aboah, Ashley Graham, Paloma Elsesser, as well as Vittoria Ceretti, FKA Twigs, Stormzy and more. Even Linda Evangelista is in town.

One of the big shows this year is from KNWLS, founded by Charlotte Knowles and Alexandre Arsenault, both Central St Martins’s graduates. It’s a brand loved by Dua Lipa, Julia Fox, Bella Hadid, Mia Regan and Lily Rose-Depp, so a sprinkling of stardust may be on the cards. Speaking of shows, if you’re the type to hang outside somewhere in the name of a A-list sighting, put Supriya Lele, Holzweiler, Mains, 16Arlington, JW Anderson and Aaron Esh on your list.

Party like you were invited

The key to really feeling like you’re living a fashionista life is to do it all day; you might not be chauffeur-driven from show to show, but you can Uber between bits. Start at the The Mandrake (W1T, themandrake.com), the fashion-forward Fitzrovia hotel, which is hosting Central Saint Martins for a two-day residency, and make use of the bar while you’re there. Next, take it to Selfridges (W1A, selfridges.com). The Selfridges Lounge sees the store open a new permanent event space with music, cultural programming and a late night bar. The first residency comes from Londoners Jamz Supernova; on Saturday evenings expect to hear sets from some of the city’s most renowned DJs. The biggest bash though might be reserved for the closing party, hosted by ME London (WC2R, melia.com) on September 19. This early evening soiree in collaboration with By Rotation and CULTNAKED is set to go from 6pm-9pm; an afterparty should follow.

High-style drinking and dining

 (@oranjwine/Instagram)
(@oranjwine/Instagram)

The chicest spots have their own fashion-forward exclusives, including the Berkeley Hotel’s (SW1X, the-berkeley.co.uk) famed Prêt-à-Portea, this year dubbed the Couture Cakewalk, which receives an upgrade via a nod to legendary designer Vivienne Westwood (immortalised in biscuit, no less). Elsewhere in Mayfair, The Biltmore Hotel (W1K, hilton.com) is hosting a Malone Souliers footwear-themed afternoon tea — for fans of both choux and shoes — while the Raey Café (W1K, raeycafe.splashthat.com) at the MATCHESFASHION boutique sees the team from zero-waste restaurant Silo pop-up (and it’s free to boot). If that all sounds too spenny then, bizarrely, Burberry has you covered. The historic British mac-maker is heading to north London hotspot Norman’s Café (N19, normanscafe.co.uk) for an upmarket greasy spoon takeover, alongside a mobile food truck which will sit on the Strand and Duke of York Square.

Still, much of the joy of LFW is the chance to blend with the right people — which means knowing where they’ll be. No guarantees here, but five-star hotels are unsurprisingly the place to start. The Rosewood London (WC1, rosewoodhotels.com) has long been known as a low-key A-list hangout (Brad Pitt has been spotted many times). Head to the hotel’s Scarfes Bar and keep your eyes peeled. Otherwise, our money is on the likes of The Standard (WC1H, standardhotels.com), The Twenty Two (W1K, the22.london) and The London Edition (W1T, editionhotels.com). As for restaurants, try Rita’s (W1F, ritasdining.com) — Dua Lipa loves it — LPM (W1K, lpmrestaurants.com), said to be Harry Styles’s favourite, the reopened Claridge’s Restaurant (W1K, claridges.co.uk) and Albemarle Street’s party spot Isabel (W1S, isabelw1.london), where the likes of Alicia Vikander and Sienna Miller have been seen tucking in — before heading downstairs into the bar.

 (Courtesy of Claridge’s)
(Courtesy of Claridge’s)

Speaking of bars, try Oranj wine bar (E1, oranj.co.uk). The Shoreditch venue is hard to get in to, and while membership isn’t required, perseverance and strength is. It’s hidden in a warehouse with no number, and entrance is from a backstreet via a heavy steel door. For this reason, it’s an ideal spot for front row guests to let their hair down without the unwanted attention. Otherwise, get in at Reference Point, the bar below 180 The Strand (WC2R, reference-point.uk). The bouncers say Leonardo DiCaprio was there last September.

Want the perfect TikTok? Pitch super glam. Since ES Mag x Perfect Magazine’s party last year, The Dorchester’s Vesper Bar (W1K, dorchestercollection.com) has kept up a steady flow of names popping in for a drink. This year’s ES do at Mark’s Club (W1J, marksclub.co.uk) is set to be equally opulent, while if you’re a member, Annabel’s (W1J, annabels.co.uk) and the George (W1K, georgeclub.com) are always busy with celebs. Nearby Nipperkin (W1J, 20berkeley.com) is also ideal for getting close to the glamour and round the corner, the Prada-owned Marchesi 1824 (W1K, pasticceriamarchesi.com) draws a stylish set. Otherwise, try Viajante87 (W11, viajantebar.com), the Red Room at the Connaught (W1K, the-connaught.co.uk) and Idris Elba’s Porte Noire (N1C, portenoire.co.uk), which with a bit of luck may host an under-the-radar party. See you there.