September 14, 2008 / 6:34 PM / 9 years ago

Feminine meets futuristic at start of London Fashion Week

<p>Models wear creations for Topshop's Unique collection during their spring/summer 2009 show at London Fashion Week September 14, 2008.Luke MacGregor</p>

LONDON, Sept 14 (Reuters Life!) - London Fashion Week began on Sunday with a feminine flurry from some established British labels and a tongue-in-cheek take on the spring/summer 2009 season from some of the newer names.

The event has a reputation for championing cutting edge design and promoting young talent, such as Christopher Kane, Henry Holland and Giles Deacon, all of whom will show this week.

PPQ, headed by Amy Molyneaux and Percy Parker who list the letter "P" as among their inspirations, combined a space-age collection including jumpsuits with a humorous take on 1940s-style hats.

Designs reminiscent of an air stewardess' uniform with belted waists played alongside quirky oversized t-shirts worn as dresses and huge gold earrings in the shape of the letter "P".

British high street brand, Topshop unveiled its Unique collection - a high-end offshoot of the store's regular stock - and models wore large cloth Alice bands tied in bow ties, short sleeved jumpsuits and little black dresses.

Ossie Clarke made its second London Fashion Week appearance after a relaunch last season, and featured draping silk creations and large hand-painted patterns, marking a return to the label's 1970s heyday.

<p>Models wear creations for Topshop's Unique collection during their spring/summer 2009 show at London Fashion Week September 14, 2008.Luke MacGregor</p>

Named after the influential London designer who died in 1996, the collection, which is now led by designer Avsh Alom Gul, included georgette and organza silk in block colors described as "verdant green", "negligee nude" and "boudoir grey" and starred model-of-the-moment Jourdan Dunn.

In the next five days designers such as Vivienne Westwood, Julien Macdonald, Paul Smith, Luella Bartley and Giles Deacon will showcase their collections for next spring.

Slideshow (7 Images)

Caroline Charles, whose career spans 40 years, showed a feminine and sophisticated collection with monochrome skirt suits and dresses in fuchsia pink and delicate silk. She welcomed the broad range of styles at the London event.

"It's not a sort of tiny, tight little group like some cities, it's a really broad canvas of designers that we allow and promote and sometimes pay for to go on our catwalks and it makes London fizz," she added.

While credit crunch concerns have pressured consumer demand, participants are looking to cash-in on buyers from overseas, drawn to Britain by a weakening pound, which last week hit its lowest level against the dollar since April 2006.

"We've heard there are less U.S. buyers but designers are definitely seeing more emerging markets buyers. The markets that are not so hard hit by the credit crunch will be buying more," Laura Jackson, Assistant Fashion Editor at Drapers magazine said.

Charles said she had not yet felt the impact of the credit crunch in her sales but was keeping her "fingers crossed" ahead of 2009, when some analysts predict the British economy may experience a recession.

Additional reporting by Cindy Martin; editing by Philippa Fletcher

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