MANOLO BLAHNIK's London Fashion Week collaboration with the British Fashion Council is a tribute to his late friend, stylist and editor Anna Piaggi. The footwear designer has created all the imagery surrounding this season's show schedule - turning Somerset House into a veritable English country garden.
"It is a great privilege to be asked, and to be able to give the city I love a few seconds of attention," he told us. "I had a friend and she adored London - Miss Anna Piaggi, she died a few months ago - and I'm doing this as a kind of homage to her. She always used to say that she thought that London was the freshest place - and all the ideas she used to pick up in London were always her best. She had this incredible vision, fashion-wise, so this is a tribute to her and to London."
A love of the city was something that the two shared in common: Spanish-born Blahnik speaks passionately about London and England ("I could go on for days!") and has lived in Bath for many years. The campaign imagery that he designed for this season's show season was created on the train from Bath to London - inspired by the view of the countryside through the window.
"Eveybody now makes a point of coming to London - which is very different to Milan and Paris. London is now so important to all these international buyers," he said. "It's also a great opportunity to remind people, that we in Europe, in England, have the best small factories and that they should be put back into use again - a lot of them are disappearing, All our designers should be using English things and English materials, I think it's so important - and this increased interest in London definitely helps."
So what is it that makes London really stand out in the international fashion scene? Blahnik believes that it's a particularly strong time for Great Britain, thanks to its strong selection of established, and in particular, emerging, designers.
"London is the future, these youngsters are the future," he said. "It reminds me of a collaboration I did back in 1993 with Lee McQueen - way back, when he didn't have a penny and I did it for free of course - and it was exciting. And it's happening again. I've seen people around recently, and sometimes I have no idea who they even are, but they are doing incredible things."