London Fashion Week (LFW), which this year celebrated its 40th anniversary, took place from 16th – 20th February, showcasing both menswear and womenswear as a hybrid digital and physical event.
Achilleas Constantinou, Chairman & Managing Director of Ariella Fashions Ltd, was recently interviewed by Vogue Business as one of the founders of the British Fashion Council (BFC) in 1983 which started LFW in 1984. Achilleas was the longest serving member and director of the BFC, serving 25 years until he resigned in 2009.
In the interview, Mr Constantinou recounts how LFW came to be. Published in the February 15, 2024 edition of the publication, it reads:
Annette (Worsley-Taylor) worked hard on the LDC (London Designer Collections), but she wasn’t getting the return that she deserved. The young designers she represented were really good, but they weren’t getting the exposure that designers would get in Paris and Milan. And there was also the problem of scheduling: neither the LDC nor the mainstream companies that I represented liked the dates that Philbeach Events were putting on the shows. They didn’t fit in what we considered a good fashion calendar.
The mainstream companies needed a longer lead time in order to maximise our order book. And then, we also needed enough time to process that production in our factories before the season started. So we needed a good three to six months from the date of order to the date of delivery. Designers couldn’t afford such a long lead time. They needed shorter delivery times because they were producing two dresses or three dresses per style. So, that’s where we had the big problem.
At the time, I was part of the Fashion Industry Action Group (FIAG), FIAG, which represented the smaller fashion-led businesses. We were having this meeting trying to find a solution to the scheduling problem. Designers and mainstream companies did not belong in the same exhibition venue. But we needed a link, so we decided to form one body to represent the industry as a whole; the Designers with a capital “D” and the mainstream fashion companies. We didn’t want to represent just manufacturers. And that’s how the British Fashion Council was formed in 1983, and Cyril Kern became the first chairman.
Achilleas founded Ariella Fashions Limited with his late brother, Aristos in 1971. Starting from a small retail premises on a first floor in Carnaby Street, they soon expanded to owning retail shops in Newburgh Street, Carnaby Street, Oxford Street and Duke Street, and then opened wholesale showrooms in Great Portland Street and Mortimer Street. By 1974 Ariella had its main offices, design studios and factory in new headquarters in Marylebone, NW1, maintaining its showroom in Great Portland Street and now administrating the running of nine retail shops including one in Chicago, one in Washington DC Illinois and one in Lausanne, Switzerland.
In the early 1980’s Ariella once again relocated its headquarters to much larger freehold premises in Wood Green, North London.
In 1985, with the tragic death of his brother Aristos, Achilleas lost both his closest companion and his business partner. He, therefore, decided to sell off the company’s retail operation and became focused exclusively on the wholesale division.
He has steered Ariella to winning many Awards and Accolades including The Queen’s Award for Export Achievement 1998 and the UK Fashion Export Award 2008 for outstanding export achievements in women’s fashion.
Ariella’s over 40 years of continuous trading has never lost its identity in supplying its loyal clientele and its international market with up to the minute styling of London High Street Fashion, specialising always in cocktail, evening and special occasion wear.

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