Let's hear it for the real women

London Fashion Week wasn't just about Alexander McQueen's catwalk antics. Offstage, many people were getting down to the business of selling wearable clothes. By Melanie Rickey

AWAY FROM the hype of the catwalk there is another London Fashion Week going on. Housed in two marquee tents outside the Natural History Museum is the London Designer's Exhibition which, from Saturday morning until last night, contained 145 companies selling collections of shoes, jewellery, hats, scarves and clothes of every kind; from glamorous to trendy and everything in between.

Many of the catwalk labels hang their clothes in the exhibition hall for store buyers - the people who decide what we are really going to wear next spring - to look at up close, touch, and see being worn by a house model. This also provides the buyers with an opportunity to talk to the designer, ask about various techniques and fabrics, and generally have a chin-wag. It's a bit like having an exclusive shopping preview, and there are plenty of new and talented young designers selling their wares to keep things interesting.

Uniform is one of them. It gained the "label-of-the-moment" tag before its clothes went into the shops for the first time last month. It is designed by Lesley Sealey (embroidery and textiles) and Roger Lee (clothes) and the clothes fuse modern street-wear with couture details. "This season we wanted to have a neutral palette, going from chalky white to soft grey, but we also wanted to use flashes of colour," Sealey says. To achieve their goal the pair created sculptural, sports-inspired coats, wrap uneven- hem skirts and shift dresses, some with innovative, magnetic fastenings that were sourced in Yellow Pages and printed with an abstract glitter print in electric blue or bright yellow. This print was achieved thanks to Sealey's diligence. "I blew ink through a straw about 40-50 times until I saw the pattern I liked, then blew it up about 800 per cent."

In complete contrast is Anna Scholz's four-year-old fashion label. This was the designer's first time at London Fashion Week, and she is the first designer for large women to present her size 10-28 clothes there. "It's been really good," says Melanie Bowler, Scholz's design assistant. "We had a TV crew here on Monday with two `real' women, and they loved the clothes."

The collection is hinged around the layering principle, with added colour and texture. "Most of the dresses are three-quarter length, and are designed to be worn together." Bowler shows me a black crochet over-dress, which can be worn over a colourful floral-print dress or a plain satin slip in ruby or black. Then it's a silver or pink waterproof coat, a glamorous evening coat and a sheer, black chiffon dress.

Also worth looking at among the 145 designers were Born Free, Ann-Louise Roswald, Patty Shelabarger and Joelynian, the husband-and-wife team who are a whiz at sexy swimwear. They have just invented the Trikini, a three- part bikini with vest, bandeau and bottom, and have been signed by BhS to create a capsule range for next summer. The style of Joelynian clothes can best be described as sexy simplicity. "These were hand-knitted in the Lake District; this linen has been waxed and these jumpers were specially done for us by John Smedley," Joely explains.

Born Free, a small design label known for its Charles and Ray Eames and Trellick tower-print T-shirts, have been doing a range of utilitarian and mainly unisex clothes for two years. A denim button-through dress has detachable long sleeves, as does a waxed raincoat. Wide-leg black pants have a waterproof coating, and there are some wonderful pull-on, slim-line parkas in navy and cream.

Ann-Louise Roswald was sponsored by Marks & Spencer's New Generation initiative this season after starting her own business last summer, soon after graduating from St Martin's with a textile degree. Her beautiful hand-painted cashmere cardigans, silk dresses, scarves and silk-jersey- printed tops, are decorated with prints inspired by the Twenties and Fifties.

Lastly there's Patty Shelabarger, an Italian whose label has been going for five years. Her clothes are bright, eclectic and fun. Fuchsia dresses in Chinese embroidered silk or shantung silk with a turquoise trim have matching sheer cardigans, handbags and slippers to complement. Her range is already sold across the UK, and the collection for next summer will fit in perfectly with the girly, colourful trend that looks set to continue.

Arts and Entertainment
Kathy (Sally Lindsay) in Ordinary Lies
tvReview: The seemingly dull Kathy proves her life is anything but a snoozefest
Arts and Entertainment

Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boy

music
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig in a scene from ‘Spectre’, released in the UK on 23 October

film
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap

film
Arts and Entertainment

Poldark review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Katie Brayben is nominated for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Carole King in Beautiful

film
Arts and Entertainment
Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast to play Wonder Woman
film
News
Top Gear presenter James May appears to be struggling with his new-found free time
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kendrick Lamar at the Made in America Festival in Los Angeles last summer
music
Arts and Entertainment
'Marley & Me' with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Hamm (right) and John Slattery in the final series of Mad Men
tv
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
    How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
    11 best bedside tables

    11 best bedside tables

    It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
    Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

    Italy vs England player ratings

    Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
    Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

    Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat