Anyone who knows anything about fashion knows what an honour it is to have John once more involved with London fashion, not just for FF@CG but also for London as a crucible for exciting and even iconoclastic fashion revolution – a role that has been largely lost sight of since the time when John worked here. That is why I am so happy that the man who I believe is the only fashion genius of our time has agreed to give back something to the city that enabled him to nurture his extraordinary talent. What he will offer us all is inspiration and guidance towards the sort of totally unique extreme daring and originality that his runaway always has, the sort of excitement that makes the whole world sit up and take notice, just as he has done ever since his graduate collection which said so clearly that a new force had arrived in world fashion.
Daring, boldness and strength are what make fashion leaders. Self belief, too. But we must be sure of what we are expecting from John's influence and example. And what we are not. It is as easy to grab attention and cause excitement in fashion as it is in any other creative field. But that is not enough by itself. Nobody needs crazy things that merely amuse for a minute or two. Whoever gets to be one of the four finalists will have to prove to John – who is the sole final judge – that thy are not only about fantasy. Good clothes, no matter how extreme they appear, must have a focus and a practical purpose. And that is to excite women to want to buy into the designer's aesthetic. Even if few things on the runway seem able to be worn under normal circumstances, the winner will have behind them an understanding of how to turn them into real clothes for real women. Anything else is merely a self-indulgent waste of time. What John will look for is not mindless craziness. That is too easy and totally pointless. He – and Fashion Fringe @ Covent Garden – will want to see a strong aesthetic that comes from a belief in fashion as a discipline as strongly creative and original as any other artistic endeavour … one that will help redraw the fashion map, just as John always does.
So, if you are thinking of applying, remember that it is self-belief and self-discipline that create the revolutionary. As Diaghilev said, "Astound me." It's not an easy call, but the watchwords are extreme boldness, experimentation and inspiration, tempered by a belief in the possibility of true personal originality.
Will we find another genius? Only you can determine that, but John and I are hoping so.