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A Brief History of the BFC

Jasper Conran autumn/winter 2004 at London Fashion Week, February 2004.

The British Fashion Council was formed in 1983 out of the Fashion Industry Action Group, an ad hoc group created in 1981 to explore ways of co-ordinating the London fashion exhibition scene.  It showcases British designers and develops London’s position as a major player in the international fashion arena. As a result, London Fashion Week ranks alongside New York, Milan and Paris as one of the 'Big Four’.


1983 Cyril Kern is made Chairman of the British Fashion Council.
1983 John Wilson is made CEO of the British Fashion Council.
1984 London Fashion Week launches in its current form with a central catwalk venue and a large designer exhibition at Olympia - the British Designer Show in association with the London Designer Collections.
1984 The BFC establishes the first British Fashion Award - the Designer of the Year Award: Katharine Hamnett is the first recipient.  The British Designer Show was held at Olympia in association with the London Designer Collections and the first joint show tent was at the Commonwealth Institute nearby.   
1985 London Designer Collections organiser, Annette Worsley-Taylor, supported by the 'Gang of Six' (a group comprising Jean Muir, Edward Rayne, Sir Terence Conran, Sir Roy Strong and Lady Henderson), lobby the goverment for funding to support and promote designer businesses. The gang of six was headed by Beatrix Miller the editor of British Vogue.
1986 The BFC is registered as a company limited by guarantee with DTI funding matched by industry sponsors. Its aims include:
  • encourage, support and market the British fashion industry to ensure future growth and prosperity.
  • organise and promote fashion shows, exhibitions and other events for the purpose of promoting the British fashion industry in a global market.
1986 Sir Edward Rayne CVO is made Chairman of the British Fashion Council.
1986 Beatrix Miller becomes Vice Chair.
1989 Built on the success of the Designer of the Year Award, the BFC launches the British Fashion Awards ceremony, recognising the different categories within designer fashion and including Photographer of the Year. The event takes place at the Royal Albert Hall, with an aftershow dinner at the Royal College of Art. Workers for Freedom wins Designer of the Year.
1990 Sir Ralph Halpern is made Chairman of the British Fashion Council.
1990 Diana, Princess of Wales attends the British Fashion Awards as guest of honour.
1991 London Fashion Week moves to the Duke of Yorks Headquarters where the first complete tented venue is built for the shows, exhibition and press facilities initiated and supported by Annette Worsley-Taylor of the London Designer Collections and John Wilson of the British Clothing Industry Association.
1991 The British Fashion Council introduces the BFC Colleges Forum. Chaired by Anne Tyrrell, the initiative links British fashion colleges with the domestic and global industry.
1993 London Fashion Week moves to the Natural History Museum.
1993 Developed to support fledging fashion design businesses, the BFC New Generation scheme is introduced, offering design labels the opportunity to show at London Fashion Week. Alexander McQueen is among the first designers to benefit.
1993 The BFC Colleges Forum holds its first open day, inviting the industry to view graduates’ portfolios and meet course leaders.
1994  Clinton Silver CBE is made Chairman of the British Fashion Council.
1994 Annette Worsley-Taylor becomes Creative and Brand Director and consultant on London Fashion Week to the British Fashion Council (until 2006).
1997  John Hoerner is made Chairman of the British Fashion Council.
1997 The Designer Fact File, written and researched by Caroline Coates, is published by the BFC in September. 
1998 BFC Princess of Wales Charitable Trust set up to award MA fashion scholarships.  Erdem is the first designer to recieve the award.
2000  Nicholas Coleridge is made Chairman of the British Fashion Council.
2001 The Prince of Wales is guest of honour at the British Fashion Awards, held at Battersea Park Arena.
2004 Sir Stuart Rose is made Chairman of the British Fashion Council.
Hilary Riva is made Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council.
2006 Recognising young businesses’ need for significant financial and business support at the second stage of development post NewGen, the BFC Fashion Forward scheme is introduced. Giles Deacon and Jonathan Saunders are the first recipients.
2006 Co-curated with From Somewhere’s Orsola de Castro, the BFC incorporates ethical fashion showcase BFC estethica to The Exhibition at London Fashion Week.
2007  The London Development Agency commits a multi-million pound funding of the British Fashion Council, worth £4.2m over three years, to enable its continued growth and consolidate its support role within the industry.
The British Fashion Council launches the new London Fashion Week website platform.  
2007 In response to concerns about the health of catwalk models at London Fashion Week, the BFC establishes the independent Model Health Inquiry, to report on industry and public concerns and make recommendations to the fashion industry. 

2007 The BFC supports Erin O'Connors's Model Sanctuary at LFW, a retreat for models inbetween catwalk shows.
2008 The BFC Colleges Forum relaunched as the BFC Colleges Council and invites a further 20 colleges to join its board.
2008 10 years after its inception the MA scholarship, (originally launched by the BFC Princess of Wales Charitable Trust) is relaunched to support graduates wishing to study MA Fashion in the London area. Manchester Metropolitan University’s Nabil El-Nayal is the first recipient; the bursary will support his studies at the Royal College of Art.
Harold Tillman is made Chairman of the British Fashion Council.  
2008 As part of its funding agreement with the London Development Agency, the British Fashion Council agrees to administrate the organisation’s London Fashion Showcasing Fund. This becomes the LDA’s central pool of funding for all fashion-related showcasing events.
2008 At a Downing Street British Fashion Council reception, hosted by Prime Minister's wife Sarah Brown, BFC Chairman Harold Tillman and Chief Executive Hilary Riva announce initiatives to mark the organisation's 25th year, including the BFC Designer Fund.  
2009 Caroline Rush and Simon Ward are appointed Joint CEOs of the British Fashion Council.  Hilary Riva continues to work pro bono for the British Fashion Council by creating and chairing a new Development Committee.
Sarah Mower is appointed the British Fashion Council's first Ambassador for Emerging Talent.
2010 BFC management structure is refined to create greater clarity and definition of roles for its joint chief executive officers (CEOs).  Caroline Rush, CEO, leads innovation, marketing and communications and special projects.  Simon Ward moves from joint CEO to take on the newly formed role of chief operating officer (COO) and leads financial and operational controls of the organisation.
2010 Hilary Riva steps down to make room for a new non-executive director to work with the team under a new governance structure.
2010 Anya Hindmarch MBE joins the BFC as non-executive director.
2011 Estethica celebrates its 5th Anniversary as the industry’s leading showcase of ethical fashion.
2011 The Women's Tennis Association and BFC unveil unique partnership celebrating link between women's tennis and the world of fashion
2011 The BFC and Ascot Racecourse partner to promote designers and milliners at Royal Ascot 2011.
2011 Announcement of the China / Britain Fashion Alliance; a combined initiative between the BFC, the Beijing International Brand Management Centre (BIBMC) and the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC). 
2011 Laura Bailey and Poppy Delevingne appointed BFC ambassadors.
2011 LONDON show ROOMS initiative expands to Los Angeles and Hong Kong.
2012 Launch of London Collections: Men, a biannual showcase of British brands and businesses embedded in a cultural programme.
2012 Britain Creates took place throughout the London 2012 Festival: an artistic project which formed part of the Fashion 2012 platform to celebrate the year of London’s hosting of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
2013 Natalie Massenet MBE is appointed Chairman of the British Fashion Council.

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