Mad as a hatter as London toasts Fashion Week

Fri Sep 18, 2009 2:16pm EDT
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By Catherine Bosley

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Sporting giant cherries on their heads or hats festooned with red blinking lights, models wearing some of the quirkiest creations from British milliners kicked off London Fashion Week on Friday. London has produced some of fashion's biggest names, including Stella McCartney and John Galliano of Dior, and its designers are regarded as among the world's most avant garde.

But the city's fashion week -- celebrating its 25th anniversary this year -- has struggled to maintain a global profile on a par with Milan, Paris or New York, and without the backing of big design houses many emerging talents have decamped elsewhere to nurture their careers.

Last February, the catwalk schedule was cut owing to a conflict with New York.

"London was always famous, and rightly so, for being at the cutting edge of avant garde creativity, way beyond what Paris and Milan do," Simon Collins, dean of fashion at design school Parsons in New York, told Reuters by telephone.

"There never seems to be that raw edge of almost guerrilla creativity that you get in London," he said. "The sad fact is that we English are not very good running business in the fashion world."

The five milliners, including Noel Stewart and Piers Atkinson, who showed their creations at the opening demonstrated the London penchant for challenging convention.

One model wore a beaded, cream-colored veil that covered her face fully, while another had what looked like antlers in black fur wrapped around her head.

But not all greeted fashion week enthusiastically.   Continued...

<p>A model displays a creation at the 2010 Spring/Summer collection Headonism show during London Fashion Week, September 18, 2009. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth</p>