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London Fashion Week opens amid Brexit uncertainties

Associated Press logo Associated Press 2/17/2017
Exhibition assistant Monique Ricketts puts finishing touches to a display by Egyptian fashion designers at Somerset House in London, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. The designs from 26 countries are displayed at the International Fashion Showcase 2017, presented by the British Council and British Fashion Council, supported by Mercedes Benz. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth) © The Associated Press Exhibition assistant Monique Ricketts puts finishing touches to a display by Egyptian fashion designers at Somerset House in London, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. The designs from 26 countries are displayed at the International Fashion Showcase 2017, presented by the British Council and British Fashion Council, supported by Mercedes Benz. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

LONDON (AP) — Models and fashion editors descended on Britain's capital from snowy New York for the start of London Fashion Week on Friday, a whirlwind of catwalk shows that include Burberry, Versus, Roksanda and dozens of other designers.

Exhibition assistant Monique Ricketts puts finishing touches to a display by Egyptian fashion designers at Somerset House in London, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. The designs from 26 countries are displayed at the International Fashion Showcase 2017, presented by the British Council and British Fashion Council, supported by Mercedes Benz. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth) © The Associated Press Exhibition assistant Monique Ricketts puts finishing touches to a display by Egyptian fashion designers at Somerset House in London, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. The designs from 26 countries are displayed at the International Fashion Showcase 2017, presented by the British Council and British Fashion Council, supported by Mercedes Benz. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

The fashion showcase kicked off Friday in a new location on the Strand in central London.

Exhibition assistant Monique Ricketts looks at a dress by Guetemalan fashion designer Thelma Espina on display at Somerset House in London, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. The designs from 26 countries are displayed at the International Fashion Showcase 2017, presented by the British Council and British Fashion Council, supported by Mercedes Benz. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth) © The Associated Press Exhibition assistant Monique Ricketts looks at a dress by Guetemalan fashion designer Thelma Espina on display at Somerset House in London, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. The designs from 26 countries are displayed at the International Fashion Showcase 2017, presented by the British Council and British Fashion Council, supported by Mercedes Benz. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

For a change, politics took center stage as the event opened. "Brexit" — Britain's exit from the European Union — and political uncertainties in the U.S. and Europe dominated opening remarks by the organizers, who urged the fashion industry to make a clear statement of unity and inclusiveness regardless of differences.

Like other business sectors, Britain's fashion industry is concerned about how Brexit will impact trade.

"I'd like to take this opportunity ... to remind the government that retaining our competitive position isn't straightforward and we hope that you'll listen and understand our concerns and our needs when we talk to you about visas, talent, tariffs, and IP (intellectual property)," said Caroline Rush, chief executive of the British Fashion Council.

As always, the shows will include a mix of established designers and newcomers. There is also a broad array of international talent on display at presentations at Somerset House, which includes designers from India, Guatemala, Slovakia and other parts of the world.

There will be 51 catwalk shows and 31 presentations vying for the attention of an audience of buyers, bloggers, celebrities and fashion fans.

The designers showing their creations will include Anya Hindmarch, Mulberry, Christopher Kane, Erdem, Gareth Pugh, and Julien Macdonald.

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