Graduation to most of us meant rented gowns trimmed with itchy fake fur, worn in the summer sun while queuing up to be photographed holding a rolled-up piece of paper. These images then duly haunt you forever, gazing down from proud relatives' mantelpieces. But for fashion graduates, it's a very different story: the only gowns involved are worthy of the red carpet, and pictures are taken by catwalk pros rather than "watch the birdie" amateurs.

So, as Graduate Fashion Week (GFW) rolls around once more, the capital can take a little bow and reminds itself of just how well its creative children have done. Design students from across the country are showing their graduate collections at west London's Earls Court this week, following in a great tradition of home-grown success stories.

London luminaries Stella McCartney, Giles Deacon and Burberry's Christopher Bailey were all part of GFW and they embody the diversity of the British design scene: McCartney's relaxed and androgynous tailoring mixed with modern girlishness; Deacon's couture embellishments and sense of directional craftsmanship; and Bailey's sophisticated transformation of a tired heritage label into a global branding phenomenon with a classy sense of tradition. His English roses and Bloomsbury babes on the autumn catwalk were to die for.

All events are open to the public, so why not try your hand at spotting the next McQueen or Galliano? Top fashion tip: they won't be wearing a mortarboard.

Graduate Fashion Week is sponsored by River Island and runs to 11 June. For tickets and information, see