Apprentice superstars strut their stuff

IT'S THE world's most famous fashion school - and its greatest. Choose any name in contemporary fashion, from John Galliano to Alexander McQueen and from Philip Treacy to Antonio Berardi and, chances are, they cut their fashion teeth at Central Saint Martins. Travel overseas and you'll find the design studios of the mighty, the likes of Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Gucci and Donatella Versace are exploiting the talents of Saint Martins' graduates to the full.

Yesterday the pick of this year's MA students took to the catwalk for their first time: it is only fitting that the names who will shape the future of fashion close the show. All in all it was an unusually restrained offering with acres of white - the colour for the millennium - and minimal silhouettes dominating proceedings. There were the requisite strange protuberances, polyur-ethane peeping out at collars and cuffs and plinky-plonky soundtrack from Mars, of course.

Students can afford this sort of indulgence - it is their job to push fashion forward. Less predictable was the fact that there was barely any gratuitous nudity to be seen. Tomorrow's fashion designers are perhaps more sensible than their elders.

Or maybe it's more that a rather sombre aesthetic - alongside the futuristic one - is coming to the fore. Grunge is not banished from our lives for ever, it seems. Names to watch out for include Emma Cook - her jackets, beaded and appliqued with found objects including pieces of discarded fur - are beautiful.

Ester Angulo sent out all-in-one garments in honey trimmed with rose. The definition of a skirt suit, say, was only evident in the seams.

Russell Sage's collection, like Cook's, had a distinctly recycled feel. It was lovely for it. As far as jewellery is concerned George Sayer stood out, continuing the contemporary concern with clasping or encasing face, neck and shoulders rather than simply adorning them.

Knitwear tended to be of the chunky, organic variety: cute sweaters with a cactus motif teamed with tartan skirts at Panajotis Katsos, as did a penchant for tomato - the colour, that is, not the fruit.

Next week the fashion pack moves to Milan.

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