The doyenne of the English fashion scene, VIVIENNE WESTWOOD, says she has no regrets about abandoning London Fashion Week. Speaking at the launch of her first American store in New York, the designer defended her decision to show in the States rather than London, saying the UK had lost it’s raw edge.

The decision to show in the States is designed to mark Westwood’s push into the US and promote her first freestanding store in the States. Her first show is due to take place this week; she has not yet decided whether she will return to the UK but she will continue to show her main Gold Label line in Paris and her men’s wear in Milan.

Westwood has long been at the vanguard of British design. A major force behind the safety-pin and slashed trouser movement of the Punk era, she has come to define British design. Now her small shop on the Kings Road has a counterpart in New York’s trendy Soho district. The 7000 square foot store, located in a former art gallery will be one of the few in the world to carry all of Westwood’s collections under one roof.

The designer currently has three stores in London and two in Japan. The American launch is backed by Japan’s Itochu corp which has funded the designer’s expansion in London and Tokyo.

But it is the original London shop, the 27- year- old World’s End, which pioneered her distinctive style. With it’s unique architectural characteristics such as the backwards ticking clock and the slanted hardwood floors, the shop has become a popular tourist attraction.

London based architect, DAVID COLLINS, is the brains behind the NY store. Westwood’s taste, inspiration and her innate glamour are combined to create a theatrical retail space. Shoppers step out of their dressing room and onto a stage equipped with mirrors and theatrical lighting.

Westwood’s catwalk show is shaping up to be one of the hot tickets of NY fashion week with Cameron Diaz and Uma Thurman slated to attend. Whatever the celebrity quotient, the show is likely to outshine the muted tones of the American designers.

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