* First show season with no fur on catwalks
Highlights include Victoria Beckham and Burberry's Tisci
* Richard Malone opens programme with hot pink and mustard
* GRAPHIC-UK womenswear sales: https://tmsnrt.rs/2NIg9Lk (Adds more shows)
By Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Jayson Mansaray
LONDON, Sept 14 (Reuters) - London Fashion Week kicked off on Friday, declaring itself fur-free for the first time as an increasing number of designers seek to burnish their ethical credentials.
The five-day trade event, the second leg of the month-long spring/summer 2019 catwalk season, has fewer big names than New York, Milan and Paris, but draws buyers, journalists and bloggers from around the world for its emerging talent and established brands.
According to a survey by the British Fashion Council (BFC), no animal fur will feature on the London catwalks or in designer presentations this season.
"We ask every season whether fur will be represented on the catwalk or in presentations ... This is the first time that designers have said that there will be 100 percent no fur on the catwalk," BFC Chief Executive Caroline Rush told Reuters.
"I think it just reflects a change in their creative choices and the power of the consumer and really thinking about the images that they're putting out through fashion week."
Burberry last week said it would no longer use real fur, the latest fashion house to ditch animal skin amid growing pressure from animal rights groups and younger clients' changing tastes. Other labels turning their back on fur include Italian luxury labels Versace and Gucci.
"Of the big four (fashion capitals), (London) is certainly the first that can say that we'll be 100 percent fur free this time," Rush added.
Outside the main catwalk venue, a small group from animal rights activists PETA celebrated the news with five women dressed as cats holding signs reading "fur-free catwalk".
The women's clothing market grew by 3.2 percent to 28.4 billion pounds ($37.3 billion) last year in Britain, according to market research firm Mintel, and sales are forecast to increase to 33.5 billion pounds in 2022.
TASSELS AND LACE
Getting the ball rolling with a colourful show, designer Richard Malone chose hot pink, mustard yellow and sharp blues and greens for his edgy collection of jackets with exaggerated shoulders, tasselled mini-skirts and over-the-knee shorts with chunky boots. Malone said the line was "bossy and fun".
Turkish designer Bora Aksu said he was inspired by Romani poetess Bronislawa Wajs, known as Papusza, for his spring line rich in floral prints, lace and embroidery.
Layered dresses in organza and tulle bore soft, romantic touches such as cut-out lace patterns. The looks were accessorised with flowery headpieces.
"It was almost like a romantic folk collection because of my muse and because of also my style," he said backstage.
Exaggerated headpieces stole the show at Pam Hogg's catwalk presentation, with rectangular pieces and high-standing wigs, sometimes with masks, in pink, blue or yellow on display.
Colourful prints featured on jumpsuits and dresses in varying lengths and shapes. But some models wore very little - sheer tulle outfits with cape-like backs and sometimes carnival-like decorations.
"It's all my loves in one and there's no rules to anything, you do what you want," Hogg said.
Ashley Williams took fashionistas on a trip to the English seaside, displaying swimsuits topped with mohair cardigans, puffball dresses and tops emblazoned with a "retired and loving it" logo. Newspaper print designs also featured.
Among the highlights expected this week is Victoria Beckham, who is celebrating 10 years in fashion by bringing her catwalk show to London from New York, and the first collection by Burberry under its new chief creative officer Riccardo Tisci. ($1 = 0.7623 pound)
(Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Jayson Mansaray; Additional reporting by Saskia O'Donoghue; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; editing by Alison Williams and Rosalba O'Brien)