Actress stars in Rocha return

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Fashion Editor

The actress Patsy Kensit took a starring role on the catwalk yesterday as she helped John Rocha make a stunning impression on London Fashion Week.

The Dublin-based, Hong Kong-born designer returned to the tents at the Natural History Museum, after three seasons in Paris, to launch his autumn/winter '96 collection.

The collection was a slick one, with shapely army jackets in khaki worn with wide trousers, silk organza shifts and shirt dresses, and chocolate brown fake fur made into a sleeveless tunic. Yasmin le Bon made a rare catwalk appearance, and suited the clothes perfectly. Skirts were long and lean, slung from the hips over a narrow, fitted shirt.

Rocha is firmly established as one of our most successful designer exports. His business goes from strength to strength and he hopes to be opening a new store in Dublin soon. Adding to his credits, a new film, This is the Sea, starring Gabriel Byrne - for which Rocha designed the entire wardrobe - is being released later this year.

The day began yesterday with Nicole Farhi, who showed a strong and focused collection of simple tailoring and knitwear.

But the radical fashion house, Red or Dead, rebelled against this week's British bias by using models from the former Yugoslavia for its strongly eastern European autumn/winter collection. Four models - aged between 17 and 21 and visiting England for the first time - were flown from the Serbian capital of Belgrade to provide an antidote to British models, said a spokeswoman.

But at least one, 19-year-old Milica Begenisic, was disturbed by the British style of modelling. She gave a cry of dismay when her dress was unbuttoned and she was told to reveal more cleavage.