London Fashion Week ends with new confidence

London Fashion Week drew to a close Tuesday after five days of shows that commentators said marked a new maturity for the event - despite a few catwalk tumbles and the odd naked model.

Three new designers were added to this season's official schedule and one hatmaker sent his models out nude, proving that London can still lay claim to being the adventurous younger sibling of the New York, Paris and Milan shows.

But the presence of global glamour house Burberry alongside veterans Paul Smith and Vivienne Westwood has raised London's game, and commentators have noted an increasing maturity here that demands to be taken seriously.

"I think it's very polished, London, it's very sophisticated. It's lost that feeling of craziness, but at the same time the actual designs are new," British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman told AFP.

A sombre note was set by Monday's memorial service for designer Alexander McQueen, who committed suicide in February.

Among those who attended the ceremony in St Paul's Cathedral were US Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, "Sex in the City" star Sarah Jessica Parker, Icelandic pop star Bjork and models Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell.

Wintour and Parker stayed on for the Burberry Prorsum show late Tuesday to watch a typically assured collection dominated by leather jackets and trousers contrasted with soft fabrics and bright accessories.

The models wore sky-high platform pumps which were clearly hard to walk in - two models had to remove them and another took an embarrassing tumble.

Leather black biker jackets and padded beige leather trench coats were nipped in at the waist by bright belts in mint green and turquoise.

The bright colours echoed the neons that have peppered other shows here this weekend, including those by two of London's brightest young stars, Christopher Kane and Giles Deacon.

Kane displayed intricate designs in lace, graphic print and embroidery - all in shocking pinks, oranges and greens. He explained: "Working in neon gets the heart going."

Meanwhile Giles used a riot of colour, from bright-metallic eye-makeup to cartoonish knits, for a fun collection modelled by curvaceous models Kelly Brook and Abbey Clancey, the fiancee of England footballer Peter Crouch.

Some spectacular new venues were introduced onto the catwalk schedule this season, including a disused power station by the River Thames, and the old Eurostar train station at Waterloo, a cavernous space with a glass roof.

Another rising star, Peter Pilotto, used the station platforms as the catwalks for his show, displaying a mix of complicated pattern cutting and flyaway fabrics, slit skirts and full length jersey dresses in white and blue.

London has always been known as a place where new designers can get themselves heard, and French hatmaker Charlie Le Mindu has used this to great effect, hitting the headlines last year for a headdress made of real mice.

This season he sent several of his models out on the catwalk with nothing on, to ensure nothing distracted from their hats.

He echoed Vogue editor Shulman's suggestion that London was becoming more serious, but he told AFP that it mustn't forget its roots but should "have some more fun".

The grande dame of British fashion, Vivienne Westwood, has never struggled to mix maturity with fun and her Red Label collection this season was no exception, offering elegant yet funky suits with make-up that looked like the models had been splashed with brightly coloured paint.

"It's been such a special week again," said Harold Tillman, head of the British Fashion Council, adding: "In 2012 we've got the Olympics... we've got to start thinking about that."

Among those helping Tillman think about London's future will be Prime Minister David Cameron's wife Samantha, who is hoping to become formally involved with the event from next season.

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