In honour of the London-set 2012 Summer Olympics—and the fact that we’re eternally indebted to the country that gave us exemplary greats from Shakespeare to Queen (the band), and the Duchess with the royal sartorialist gift, Kate Middleton—we salute you, Great Britain. Here’s our roundup of iconic British labels and why you should love them too.

British fashion label: Burberry

British roots: Before Kate Moss and the iconic trench coat, there was Thomas Burberry, who at the age of 21, opened up shop in Basingstoke, Hampshire, England, committed to producing and selling practical outerwear.
Rock star designer: Taking the helm as creative director in 2001, Yorkshire-born Christopher Bailey is responsible for all things Burberry—including Burberry Prorsum, Burberry London lines, Thomas Burberry and all Burberry licensed products globally, as well as upkeep on the brand’s overall image, from advertising to corporate art direction and store design.
Signature statement: A registered trademark, the Burberry check traces back to the lining from a 1924 trench coat. The pattern of intersecting red, camel, black and white lines has been reproduced and printed on everything from Burberry perfume bottles to umbrellas ever since.


British fave: Burberry Prorsum’s Spring/Summer 2012 runway show.

Best Spring/Summer 2012 runway trends: High-waisted pencil skirts, multi-coloured wedge heels, draping tops with a crocheted wooden bead-detailed neckline, in deep plum, mustard and wintery green for Burbery Prorsum.

British fashion label: Alexander McQueen

British roots: As dark and brooding as he was theatrical, the London-born avant-garde McQueen was labeled as fashion’s newest enfant terrible when he debuted on the fashion scene in 1992.
Rock star designer: After the designer’s passing in February 2010, Sarah Burton, a former McQueen intern and head of womenswear since 2000, officially took the reins in May.
Signature statement: Her debut Spring/Summer 2011 collection paid tribute to the fallen namesake’s theatrical roots, but Burton was internationally lauded for her standout dressmaking duty for Kate Middleton and her sister, Pippa, at last year’s Royal Wedding.
Best Spring/Summer 2012 runway trends: An ethereal display of delicate corsetry, lace and stiff, layered peplum skirts in soft shades of nude, lavender and pale pink.

Summer 2012 runway trends: Date night looks

For more iconic British fashion labels and their best Spring/Summer 2012 runway trends, read on to the next page…

Burberry-RS12-1914CANVAS.jpgFashion label: Stella McCartney

British roots: Daughter of the former-Beatles bandmate, Paul, Stella McCartney launched her eponymous label in 2001 after leaving her post as creative director of Chloe and continues to show in Paris.
Rock star designer: In addition to her women’s ready-to-wear line, accessories, lingerie, eyewear, fragrance and organic skincare, plus a partnership with Addias for the sports performance collection “adidas by Stella McCartney” since 2004, the animal-rights activist designer created the official uniform for the Great Britain 2012 Olympic team.
Signature statement: An androgynous mix of fine masculine and feminine design, the sharply tailored pantsuit is her trademark go-to look.
Best Spring/Summer 2012 runway trends: Slinky, mixed-print summer dresses, paisley pajama suits and sporty, lace-trimmed slip dresses.

Fashion label: Vivienne Westwood

British roots: Westwood showed her first collection, entitled “Pirate,” in 1981 and launched a menswear line in Florence in 1990.
Rock star designer: In her typical, whimsical fashion, the flaming-haired, punk rock English designer was late to collect her award at the Outstanding Achievement in Fashion Design at the British Fashion


British fave: Burberry Prorsum’s Spring/Summer 2012 runway show.

Awards in 2007 (she was in the loo).
Signature statement: With her risqué collections and theatrical runway displays, Westwood is credited with the inception of “punk fashion.”
Best Spring/Summer 2012 runway trends: Silky, peacock blue dresses with matching blue lips, big floral fascinators and a gold-beaded clutch with “I LOVE CRAP” printed in capital letters.

Fashion label: Paul Smith

British roots: Known today for his quintessential British tailoring, the designer first opened his Paul Smith Vêtement Pour Homme shop in Nottingham in 1970.
Rock star designer: The second fashion designer after Hardy Amies, Sir Paul Smith was knighted in 2000. He launched a children’s collection in 1990, dressed the Manchester United soccer team ahead of their Champions League Final in May 2009 and designed a limited edition copy of John Le Carré’s novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, in September 2011.
Signature statement: Clean lines and simplistic style—with the odd bright colour or floral print—and classic, well-tailored cuts.
Best Spring/Summer 2012 runway trends: Menswear for women—cropped trousers in navy and plum, crisp white blazers, sheer, pale blouses and a buttercup yellow silk wrap skirt—just for fun.

Read more:
Luxury London: The best spas in London
Ladylike dressing: Spring/Summer 2012 runway trends
Burberry Prorsum Spring/Summer 2012
Stella McCartney Spring/Summer 2012