Fashion's creative capital London squeezed by time

Wed Feb 25, 2009 11:29am EST
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By Catherine Bosley and Kylie MacLellan

LONDON (Reuters) - A shortened London Fashion Week held onto its title as the capital of creativity but struggled to hang onto the catwalk models under pressure from its rivals.

The womenswear collections, famous for featuring some of the world's most avant-garde designers, ran from February 20 to 24. Trends for Autumn/Winter 2009 included tailored jackets with oversized shoulders, subtle sparkle and conservative necklines.

But the event was cut from its usual six days and overlapped with shows in New York and Milan after the U.S. fashion council pushed its collections back a week, prompting some models to skip coming to Britain at all.

"Everyone says Milan, Paris is more important and New York, of course. So you'd rather skip London than miss something in Milan," said model Tabea Koebach, 20, who wore a maroon silk dress and a wide black belt on the catwalk for Jaeger.

London is poised to reassert its international profile in September, when shows will be extended to five days and held at Somerset House, a larger and more central location, rather than the Natural History Museum.

"We all have the same problem," said 18-year-old model Stella Maxwell, as a hair dresser adjusted a blonde curl.

"You can miss a lot of castings and come late and they've already chosen their girls. It's tough," Maxwell said, ahead of the Luella Bartley show where models wore golden frocks with black mesh inserts and suspender straps.

Castings are auditions for models, who are usually selected individually for shows by designers such as Julien Macdonald, whose collection included blazers with exaggerated shoulders that curved upwards and billowing blouses with plunging v-necks.   Continued...

<p>Models present creations from the Bora Aksu 2009 Autumn/Winter collection during London Fashion Week February 24, 2009. REUTERS/Stephen Hird (</p>