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London Fashion Week 25th anniversary rallies sponsors around 'prestige' event

LONDON - London Fashion Week, one of the most high profile events in the UK capital, appears to have escaped the curse of the global advertising downturn as it retains its key sponsors for this month's festival.

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The British Fashion Council, the organisation behind London Fashion Week, will unveil its full roster of sponsors next week. A host of companies have confirmed they will be partnering with the 25th anniversary event, which starts on September 18.

Worldwide media coverage of London Fashion Week is now worth more than £50m per season, according to media intelligence firm Cision, while the event contributes an estimated £20m to the UK economy in direct spend.

The London Evening Standard will once again be the media partner for 2009, and Hachette Filipacchi's Elle is the media sponsor of the London Fashion Weekend.

Canon has signed up as a lead sponsor, British Airways remains the airline of choice and premiere brands including Swarovski, the Mayfair hotel and Mac cosmetics are also aligning themselves with the event.

And it is not just the luxury brand names that are willing to pay to be associated with the international event. High street giant Topshop and DHL have confirmed they will be involved in commercial activity around the week.

Pippa Goodwin, board director at luxury-goods focussed media agency M2M, believes the increased publicity around London Fashion Week is helping brands justify their presence.

She said: "There are people showing in London this year who haven't done previously so there's more noise and attention back on the city when in the past it might have been on other fashion markets."

A key driver behind the publicity for the event is its 25th anniversary, which in turn is attracting a raft of high-level designers and labels to the catwalks. A new location, at the iconic Somerset House, is also having an impact.

Goodwin said: "When things are tough [financially] the really important things will continue to do well. I would imagine everyone is renegotiating everything but there is a prestige here."

September is traditionally a key time for fashion magazine titles with Vogue publishing its International Collections issue and Elle this year releasing 11 different covers for its September issue, one of which featured Boris Johnson in a nod to a tie-in with City Hall ahead of London Fashion Week.

IPC's October issue of Wallpaper has a specially-designed cover from Karl Lagerfeld, the creative director of Chanel who also guest edits the issue. The cover can be peeled off to reveal the same suited model in a naked pose beneath.

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