International designers from 25 countries to celebrate local fashion on London's global stage

10 January 2017
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International Fashion Showcase 2017 presented by Mercedes-Benz at Somerset House

17 – 21 February 2017

The British Council, British Fashion Council (BFC) and Mercedes-Benz are pleased to announce that collectively they will present work by emerging fashion designers from 25 countries for the International Fashion Showcase (IFS) 2017 when it returns to Somerset House for a second year in February. The exhibition will be the sixth edition of the annual showcase and forms a key part of London Fashion Week Festival, giving the public the opportunity to celebrate fashion and its universal relevance. This is the first time the IFS will be supported and presented by Mercedes-Benz that for the past 21 years has established itself globally as a key player and partner at key international fashion shows and events.

The IFS is a series of specially-commissioned and curated fashion installations featuring work by emerging designers from all over the world. Since 2012, 550 of the most exciting international designers from 70 countries have exhibited as part of the initiative. IFS responds to London’s reputation for promoting and supporting new talent in the creative industries – a number of whom are working within Somerset House – by providing opportunities for designers from overseas to engage with the UK fashion community and build international connections.

The theme of this year’s exhibition is Local/Global. Countries have been invited to explore the influence of place on fashion and to examine how emerging designers can transform their local culture into a global language. Fashion is shaped by its surroundings: the rhythms of nature, climate, cultural memory, social change and historical shifts are reflected in silhouettes, techniques and materials. The peculiarities of place give rise to different ways of designing, making and wearing fashion. By considering fashion within their own landscape the countries taking part in IFS will highlight the similarities and differences of our complex and connected world.

To reflect how fashion is influenced by its surroundings, the West Wing Galleries at Somerset House will be transformed by Studio Toogood using panels of stretched agricultural tarpaulin, neat stacks of bricks and fabric panels dyed with London clay. Here an emerging generation of international designers and curators will invite visitors to share their country’s vision of Local/Global.

The exhibition will be arranged over 15 rooms, 14 of which will represent a country. There will be one group installation, ‘Next in Line’, curated by Shonagh Marshall which will feature designers from 10 further nations. In a dedicated space, Mercedes-Benz will showcase six emerging designers the brand has previously supported through its International Designer Exchange Programme (IDEP). As part of its ongoing global fashion commitment, Mercedes-Benz continues to support, nurture and mentor young and emerging design talent through the IDEP, which offers up-and-coming designers a unique opportunity to present their collections outside of their local markets to an international audience.

A series of business support seminars, organised by London College of Fashion, will help designers prepare for the showcase. The Designer Support Programme will bring together a network of LCF affiliated academics and researchers, to offer mentoring opportunities and business development during IFS. A collaboration with Fashion Scout will offer designers involved in IFS the opportunity to show their work on the catwalk.

A prize-giving ceremony scheduled for London Fashion Week February 2017, chaired by a panel of industry experts will announce a winning Country, Designer, and Curator. The panel is headed by Sarah Mower MBE, BFC Ambassador for Emerging Talent and Chief Critic at Voguerunway.com. For the first time, Mercedes-Benz will additionally present the winning Designer with the unique opportunity to showcase his or her collection at one of the currently more than 50 Mercedes-Benz Fashion platforms.

Caroline Rush CBE, BFC Chief Executive said: "We are delighted to welcome Mercedes-Benz to the International Fashion Showcase initiative. Mercedes-Benz has been a long term partner of the British Fashion Council over different projects and their commitment to supporting emerging talent from all around the world is a great fit with the spirit of IFS. Each year London is proud to host the IFS designers who from all over the world bring their local stories and culture told through the lens of fashion."

Sarah Mann, Director of Architecture, Design, Fashion, British Council, said
: “Now in its sixth year, the International Fashion Showcase continues to go from strength to strength, providing a unique opportunity for emerging fashion designers from all over the world to demonstrate the strength and diversity of global fashion during London Fashion Week. This year’s theme; Local/Global, takes fashion’s connection to its local context as its starting point, looking at and how young designers are exploring identity in an increasingly globalised world. The standard of work presented at IFS never fails to impress; and I look forward to seeing the diversity and innovation of the designers taking part in this year's exhibition.”
 
Michael Bock, Director Sport- & Lifestyle Marketing, Mercedes-Benz said: “For more than 20 years we have been committed to the world of fashion through promoting creative and talented people who represent both quality and variety in the fashion sector. We are excited to be partnering with the British Council and the British Fashion Council who are commitment to support, nurture and mentor emerging design talent on the International Fashion Showcase. The IFS is a fantastic platform which much like the objective of the Mercedes-Benz International Designer Exchange Programme, cross-pollinates between nations and creates a valuable commercial and critical platform for upcoming and established designers.”