Kate Middleton in a Roksanda Ilincic frock, SamCam in Jonathan Saunders. If London’s fashion’s designers have gone ‘proper’ in the past decade, Lulu Kennedy must be partially responsible. From her HQ in Brick Lane she runs Fashion East, a non-profit initiative giving sponsorship and mentoring totalented young designers.
What was Brick Lane like when you arrived in 1996?
‘It was quiet. So quiet! I still haven’t got completely used to how busy it’s got. When the owner of Truman’s [The Old Truman Brewery] first bought the building, everyone was saying: ‘Who will rent these studios? You’re in no-man’s land. But all those creative people came. Now, it’s just gone mad, hasn’t it?’
It used to be that young London designers were thought of as incredibly talented but hopeless with business. Has that changed?
‘That’s completely changed. Even the least business-minded kids know that they’ve got to sort that out.’
What makes London fashionable?
‘London’s an inspiring city because of what it is, historically – the music scene, the art scene. I was in Dalston the other day, it was when the Olympic torch was passing through, and I’ve been in this neck of the woods for donkeys’ years, but you still get that fresh assault on the senses from the crazy things people are wearing and doing. There was a full-on party on the street. The tourists must think we’re mental.’
Where in London would you send a tourist?
‘It’s not fashion related, but Borough Market is lovely. Columbia Road flower market on a Sunday. And Camden Passage in Islington, which is always nice for a potter about.’
If you were the boss of London for a week what would change?
‘Everyone would have to go to the pub for lunch and there would be a compulsory afternoon siesta.’