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Designer talent blossoms down on market floor

After witnessing the arch-glamour displayed by haute couture's established designers in the past few weeks, fashion hunters are advised to visit Alternative Fashion Week, where the top designers of tomorrow are showing their collections.

Trendy old Spitalfields Market, in the East End of London, is the venue for the wacky, decadent and sometimes wearable creations. Now in its fifth year, show organisers claim to be free of the pretensions surrounding the fashion business.

Liz Weston, of Alternative Arts, the show's organiser, said: "Anyone can come to see the collections. Not only is it free, but people are not pressured into buying anything. They can just enjoy what is on offer. There is no mystique about fashion shows."

Some of the designers are still at college, but most have launched their own labels, wanting to remain independent of the mainstream.

Often art forms in themselves, the alternative fashions can be looked upon as theatrical costumes. But for those wanting to pick up some relatively cheap, but delicately-stitched creations, there are a few clothes which are wearable.

"A lot of our designs tend to indicate trends later seen by main stream designers, like Vivienne Westwood or Alexander McQueen," Ms Weston said.

"But I have to admit that some of the clothes are just outrageous. Although I can't imagine people wearing them, ideas always filter down to the high street, eventually."

Among the outfits displayed was a purple tasselled and gold corset creation was designed by 24-year-old Abby Grewcock, who studied fashion and design at Loughborough College of Art and Design in Leicestershire.

The costume is part of her first collection, which is heavily influenced by the circus tradition, which she says is the inspiration behind her clothes.

Anyone wanting to attend any of the shows can call 0171 375 0441, for details.