Shopping: After a fashion...

A bluffers guide to the London Fashion Show.

Stand outside the Natural History Museum on Cromwell Road, South Kensington tomorrow at about 4.30pm and you will witness a late Nineties breed in action: the fashion pack at London Fashion Week. They will be preparing to attend the Miu Miu show, which is the younger more accessible line from Prada - who has chosen to show in London for the first time.

The fashion pack will be wearing the best of the new season's designer clothes - hair freshly cut, the latest make-up colours, and the latest accessories. It's a daunting sight if you're attending a show for the first time. And next weekend the general public can.

On 1 and 2 March, after the official shows finish, there will be a chance for 6,000 fashion-conscious people to attend highlights of this London Fashion Week. And they can get a preview of the autumn and winter collections as well as the designer wear available now in the fashion tents outside the museum.

Designers taking part include Clements Ribeiro, Amanda Wakely, Abe Hamilton, Pearce Fionda, Copperwheat Blundell and Red or Dead. And in true fashion- show form there will be a goody bag on each seat, containing products from Vidal Sassoon and more. There will be no need to lie your way past security guards or suffer for hours standing in a queue. The only thing that should be made is an effort in the way you dress. So here are a few tips on how to look the part.

The shows take place at 10am, 12 noon, 2pm and 4pm. Tickets cost pounds 25, and are available from Ticketmaster 0171-344 4444.

The book: With Friends Like These, by Nicholas Coleridge. The author is managing director of Conde Nast UK, publishers of Vogue, GQ and Tatler. Fashion shows start notoriously late, so a book always comes in handy to fill in time. Note: most fashion journos will remove the distinctive cover and replace it with the one from Joanna Briscoe's new novel Skin, about plastic surgery. With Friends Like These, pounds 16.99

The bag: Asymmetric tan suede bag, pounds 125, by Russell & Bromley. Also available in chocolate-brown suede.

The jacket: Gold Chinese-style jacquard jacket, pounds 95, by Clements Ribeiro for Dorothy Perkins (also available in iridescent blue). Matching trousers and shift dress also available in the same fabric. Looks expensive, feels expensive, fits like a dream. Available from Dorothy Perkins, 379 Oxford Street, London W1, and stores at Lakeside Thurrock, Liverpool, Croydon and Dublin; also available from Debenhams in Manchester. Call 0171-291 2604 for further details.

The shoes (you really should wear) Driving shoes, pounds 89.50, by Russell & Bromley, also available in navy, off-white and mid-blue. These are the most comfortable and stylishly understated shoes around, similar in design to the classic J P Tods shoes currently flying out of Joseph stores at pounds 150 a pair. Russell & Bromley driving shoes available from 24-25 New Bond Street, London W1 and stores nationwide call 0171-629 6903 for your local branch.

The trousers: Black cotton/lycra slimline boot-cut trousers, pounds 59.99, by French Connection. Their best-selling trouser is available in two lengths, 30in and 34in inside leg, and for this season the colours are white, beige, khaki, navy and dark brown. They also come in a polyester/lycra mix for extra stretch, as well as a satin finish for shiny disco nights. French Connection 249 Regent Street, London W1; 99 Long Acre and branches nationwide. Call 0171-580 2507 for your local stockist.

The shoes (you might want to wear) Gold strappy stack sandals, pounds 135, by Miu Miu. They look great, but after three shows can you walk in them? No, no, no. Only the truly foolish try to last the day in heels. Available from Pellicano, 63 South Molton Street, London W1 (0171-629 2205)

The address book: London, Paris, New York address book, pounds 39.50, by Smythson. Also available in blue leather. The book is an absolute essential for fashion globetrotters. Sadly, it omits Milan, but nevertheless, each city has its own a-z section for phone numbers and addresses. Available from Smythson, 44 New Bond Street, London W1; call 0171-629 8558 for mail- order enquiries.

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