London Fashion Week: Victoria Beckham, Burberry headline

London Fashion Week kicked off Friday with all eyes on Victoria Beckham, who debuted at the event on the 10th anniversary of her label's launch, and on Burberry's new star designer Riccardo Tisci. The ex-Spice Girl, celebrating a decade since her brand's 2008 unveiling in New York, has since defied the naysayers and won her peers' respect. The Briton now heads a fashion empire valued at 100 million GBP (131 million USD) by the industry press, although her appearance in London is Beckham's first at the country's premiere fashion show.

"Ten years ago, when Victoria Beckham started, many saw her as just another example of a celebrity wanting to have a fashion range with no formal fashion training," University of Westminster Professor Andrew Groves told AFP. "Through hard work and determination she has proved those early critics wrong."

London Fashion Week: Victoria Beckham, Burberry headline

'VB' on Piccadilly

Ahead of her homecoming of sorts, the 44-year-old mother-of-four featured on London's legendary Piccadilly Circus advertising screens, fulfilling a childhood dream.

"When I was a kid my parents would always drive us up to London and show us around Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, and... Piccadilly Circus," Beckham told The Daily Telegraph.

"I remember looking up, thinking 'wow, how cool would that be, to literally see your name in lights.'"

London Fashion Week: Victoria Beckham, Burberry headline

The designer's show, scheduled for Sunday, is expected to attract a host of VIPs, starting with the Beckham tribe -- her husband David and their four children.

British Vogue magazine, which features them on its October cover, is hoping some former bandmates may also attend.

"Fingers crossed for some Spice Girls on the front row," it wrote. The other big highlight of London's week, dedicated to the spring-summer 2019 collections and which ends on Tuesday, will see Tisci present his much anticipated first collection for Burberry.

The Italian designer, formerly of Givenchy, replaced Christopher Bailey as chief creative officer of the luxury British fashion house in March and will showcase on Monday.

He was credited with reviving Givenchy during his 12-year tenure there, by cultivating links with celebrities.

His arrival at Burberry is intended to reinvigorate the brand following disappointing profits in recent years.

Burberry is relying on Tisci, praised for his ability to blend street-wear with high fashion, to re-energise its high-end presence.

"Riccardo's creative vision will reinforce the ambitions we have for Burberry and position the brand firmly in luxury," chief executive Marco Gobbetti said in a statement.

London Fashion Week: Victoria Beckham, Burberry headline

Avoiding Brexit damage

Naomi Braithwaite, senior lecturer in fashion marketing and branding, Nottingham Trent University, told AFP that Tisci "seems a perfect choice for Burberry."

"His tendency to not be afraid to take creative risks and innovate (are) characteristics that have underpinned Burberry's philosophy in the last few years," she said.

Originally from Taranto, a port city in southern Italy, Tisci trained at Central Saint Martins, a top arts and design college in London.

He has already started to make his own mark on the venerable British brand since arriving, recently unveiling on Instagram a new company monogram. A white "B" is interwoven with red ribbons to form the initials of Thomas Burberry, who founded the fashion house in 1856.

But Friday, it was all about colour: lemon, pink, and mint green for Ireland's rising star Richard Malone, who is just 26, and lavender and anise of Turkey's Bora Aksu.

Former Lady Gaga designer Nicolas Formichetti, who came up with the singer's famous meat dress, mixed sportswear and sequins to create a festive wardrobe for Nicopanda.

London Fashion Week: Victoria Beckham, Burberry headline

Inspired by pop culture of the 1990s, it featured a translucent cowboy hat and star-studded beach shorts.

In the morning, British Fashion Council chairwoman Stephanie Phair could not avoid mentioning the elephant in the room: Britain's impending departure from the European Union in March next year.

Phair said the industry needed to open a dialogue with the British government about the preparations needed to ensure global-facing fashion brands can continue to operate smoothly amid Brexit.

"To argue the case where damage could be done is something the British Fashion Council already does every day," she said.(AFP)

Photos: catwalkpictures.com, Victoria Beckham SS19