Unwrap the tinfoil and sew up some cellophane

Our fashion graduates have innovative ideas about dressing for the millennium, says Tamsin Blanchard
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Indy Lifestyle Online
In the future, we will wear clothes for snowboarding. Strange hi-tech gadgets will dangle from our ears and pollution will be so bad that masks will become fashion accessories. Exaggerated peaked shoulders will point towards the skies; synthetic fabrics such as plastic, nylon and even cellophane will be commonplace; fatigue trousers will replace jeans. Clothes will look as though they have been made from tinfoil to survive a nuclear fallout. Or they will be pure white or Day-Glo bright. Skirts will be so tight that walking will be near-impossible. Women will emphasise their femininity or else look sharp and spiky. And three-inch platform shoes will be the only footwear of choice.

That is how the graduates of 1995, who showed their collections at the Business Design Centre in north London last week, see the future of fashion. But is there a future for them?

According to David Jones, fashion business management consultant, they should not expect to show their collections in Paris this October, but after a few years in the industry, they should find a bright future opening up. "The market is looking for freshness and innovation," he says.

Jones works with companies such as Sonnentag Mulligan and Copperwheat Blundell giving business advice and helping with manufacturing and cash- flow problems. He offers a support system to young designers who no longer have college tutors to fall back on and he is running a course on how to start your own fashion business.

"One thing graduates have to have is stamina and untold belief in themselves," he says. Colleges do not give students enough information on self-promotion and business skills, he believes, and starting up your own label needs more than just money and design talent. "You need to ooze enthusiasm," he says. "Commercial, innovative thinking is what it's about."

The majority of graduates leaving fashion college are not looking to become the next John Galliano. They will find jobs working anonymously for design houses or chain stores. But those who do want to set up their own label need first of all to establish their individuality.

As Andrew Fionda, of the young London design duo Pearce Fionda, commented after one of last week's shows, "The best students were those who weren't trying to be Alexander Chalayan, who had their own identity". Nevertheless, the London design radicals Alexander McQueen and Hussein Chalayan were unashamedly copied by students from Northumbria to Westminster.

We have chosen a selection of the week's work - not necessarily the best, but the collections that we feel most accurately sum up the way we might be dressing by the millennium.

For information on David Jones's Start Your Own Fashion Business course, ring 0171-435 9505. The 10-session course runs from 27 June to 26 July and costs pounds 250.

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