FASHION: BEST OF THE BRITS

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Indy Lifestyle Online
This year's British Fashion Awards will be presented on Tuesday at the Royal Albert Hall. There are 11 prizes to be won, in categories such as New Generation, Glamour, Street Style, and Contemporary Collections. The most coveted award is for Designer of the Year, which John Galliano received for the third time in 1995. Here we present seven hot favourites, with backstage photographs from their latest Spring/Summer catwalk shows

ALEXANDER McQUEEN

NOMINATED FOR DESIGNER OF THE YEAR

The "will he, won't he" talk about Alexander McQueen moving to Givenchy in Paris has done the 27-year-old designer (most famous for his "bumster" trousers) no end of good. McQueen graduated with an MA from St Martin's in 1992, after serving his apprenticeship on Savile Row, and showed his eighth collection last month. It proved to be the highlight of London Fashion Week and achieved worldwide acclaim, especially from American commentators, who invariably shout "The guy's a genius" at the mention of his name. McQueen is more than innovative: eschewing current trends, he creates his own with clothes that combine traditional fabrics and tailoring with a decadent twist: low-cut "bumster"-back dresses, spray- can graffiti jackets. Thanks to backing from Japanese company Onward Kashiyama, he has the luxury of being a designer without the headache of manufacture. Surprisingly, he has yet to scoop an industry award, but he is expected to win Designer of the Year

JEAN MUIR LABEL

NOMINATED FOR CONTEMPORARY COLLECTIONS

Jean Muir, known to her staff with apparent formality but deep affection as Miss Muir, died last year of breast cancer, aged 66, but her memory and timeless designs live on. She believed that women should wear the clothes they like and feel good wearing, and not be intimidated by trends or fads. Her label continues (near right), designed by an all-female team who worked under her for years. They have now produced four collec-tions imbued with the spirit of the designer. Miss Muir devo-tees include Joanna Lumley, Barbra Streisand, Selina Scott and Patricia Hodge

BETTY JACKSON

NOMINATED FOR CONTEMPORARY COLLECTIONS

In the Seventies, Betty Jackson designed for Quorum, hippest shop on the King's Road; in 1981 she launched her own label. In 1985 she was awarded British Fashion Designer of the Year, and two years later an MBE. Now 49, she is best known for her realistic approach (second right), and for keeping up with the demands of modern life on working women - just what the Contemporary Collection award is about. Typical customers are Cherie Blair, Jennifer Saunders and the singer Lisa Stansfield

HUSSEIN CHALAYAN

NOMINATED FOR DESIGNER OF THE YEAR AND NEW GENERATION

Now 26, the Cyprus-born designer is a fashion thinker and modernist, best known for putting Bjork in unrippable paper suits and for his 1993 St Martin's graduation collection, which was displayed in the window of Browns. It consisted of clothes which had been buried with iron filings for a rusting effect. He has had six collections in London Fashion Week and won the first Absolut Creation award last year. He sewed "flight paths" on to his tai- lored suits and dresses last winter and is using Art Deco motifs (near right) this season

CLEMENTS RIBEIRO

NOMINATED FOR DESIGNER OF THE YEAR AND NEW GENERATION

Suzanne Clements, 28, and Inacio Ribeiro, 34, married the year after they graduated from St Martin's in 1991. They have shown in Japan and Brazil (Inacio's home country), but are now settled and show in London. Their clothes (second right) have been a hit with American press and buyers; the English are much taken with their irreverent, eccentric style. Influences from Sears mail order catalogues to flamenco and the BBC sitcom The Good Life make their clothes special and fun to wear. Earlier this year they won the Absolut Creation award

ANTONIO BERARDI

NOMINATED FOR NEW GENERATION AND STREET STYLE

Antonio Berardi, 27, presented his first catwalk collection last October, and was immediately accepted into the Britfash pack. His cool rating was assured with support from the likes of shoe designer Manolo Blahnik and milliner Stephen Jones, as well as customers such as Kylie Minogue and Kate Moss. Berardi is a determined designer with an equally determined right-hand man, Priyesh Shah, who was a fellow student at St Martin's. Berardi's clothes are feisty and feminine: his third collection, shown during London Fashion Week, presented garments from boudoir dresses in floaty wisps of chiffon (above) to intricate pleated jackets worn with knee-length tailored shorts

PEARCE FIONDA

NOMINATED FOR DESIGNER OF THE YEAR, NEW GENERATION AND GLAMOUR

Ren Pearce, 32, and Andrew Fionda, 29, produce the most contemporary glamorous clothes a woman could want (below and left). Both graduates of Trent Polytechnic who later did MAs, they won the New Generation award last year, and this April, Young Designers of the World. Their clothes are worn by women around the globe, including Cher, Iman, and Canadian singer Celine Dion. Simplicity is the essence of their designs - no tricks, no gimmicks, just meticulous bias cutting, sculpted tailoring, and luxurious fabrics, resulting in clothes with an individual stamp of elegance. Last month they presented their fifth collection at Harrods. Think Bianca Jagger meets Marlene Dietrich on South Molton Street and you'll get the idea

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