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It's back to 1952 for a touch of the Country Set

London Fashion Week is here again, showcasing an industry that directly puts £21bn into the UK economy. Harriet Walker opens her diary...


The capital's pavements were overrun with preternaturally glossy and sleek fashion types, rushing to reach some 59 catwalk shows. The line-up included the return of cartoonish duo Antoni & Alison, as well as past winners of the Fashion Fringe mentoring scheme, Corrie Nielsen and Fyodor Golan. The evening also offered a chance to spot new talent as the graduates of Central Saint Martins presented their final collections.


With the Diamond Jubilee looming this summer, designers took inspiration from the earlier years of Her Majesty's reign. Heritage checks and Fifties-style, raglan-sleeved wool blanket coats recalled the Country Set of years gone by at Daks, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of its royal warrant. Outfitters to Edward VII, and more recently to the Duchess of Cambridge, Aquascutum, now under the creative direction of Joanna Sykes, were also on the roster. The collection had an uptown luxe feel, the autumnal styles showing off Sykes's skills well in crisp, clean woollen outerwear trimmed with leather and fur.

At Jasper Conran, sack-back jackets with three-quarter length sleeves along with delicately embroidered dresses adorned with feathers and fringing recalled the louche glamour of Princess Margaret at the height of her debutante heyday.

John Rocha and daughter Simone both presented collections. A love of monochrome clearly runs in the family; Simone Rocha continued her exploration of feminine dressing within masculine codes: sumptuous cream lace cut into boxy tops and skirts. Her father also worked with chiffon, fashioning full-length column skirts, worn with voluminous georgette silk boleros and oversized capes.

The evening saw a dinner hosted by Stella McCartney, who chose to present a capsule of formalwear ahead of dressing the GB Olympics team this summer. American Vogue editor Anna Wintour was in attendance, as were model Stella Tennant and Mr Kate Moss, Jamie Hince.


Mulberry, Topshop Unique and Vivienne Westwood take the stage for what will no doubt be all-guns-blazing productions, while the critically acclaimed Jonathan Saunders show this evening should yield delicately feminine but edgily modern pieces. Also up is talk of the town JW Anderson.

Thomas Tait is another rising star exhibiting in the afternoon, while household name Paul Smith is also on the timetable.


Day four spotlights shows from Mulberry, Topshop and Vivienne Westwood's Red Label. Christopher Kane's show is always a highlight; a London luminary whose talents were spotted straight out of college, Kane, 29, is creative director at Versace's second line, Versus. Later, Giles Deacon will present his autumn offerings. Last season, his shows ended with an enormous couture swan costume rendered in laser-cut lace and ostrich plumes.


The final womenswear collections, ahead of the menswear event on Wednesday. Avant-garde duo Meadham Kirchhoff always pull a crowd: last season, their show opened with can-canning Courtney Love lookalikes. Mary Katrantzou will show her signature print-collages, too.

But, if your name isn't down ...

You can count on a scrum outside the McQ show tomorrow. The label's subsidiary line is the first Alexander McQueen show in London for more than a decade.