Designers get real to please working women

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The Independent Online
Real women took centre stage yesterday as Nicole Farhi, Betty Jackson and the Jean Muir label presented collections at London Fashion Week which showed the designers had a good understanding of ordinary women's daily lives.

Nicole Farhi and Betty Jackson are fast becoming regarded as the patron saints of contemporary working women. Both of their collections showed their understanding of the unpredictable British summer - you need to wear lots of gorgeous clothes (not minuscule bikinis) and a good, warm jumper always comes in handy.

The spirit of the late Miss Muir lives on in the elegant shop and showroom in London's Bruton Street, where the show was held. The team behind the label, a self-effacing bunch, are so dedicated to her memory that they will not even reveal the names of the designers. Three of them came out to take a discreet bow at the end of the salon show, and one suspects that they would feel uncomfortable sullying the name of Miss Muir with their own.

Their clothes were pretty without being prissy, and elegant without being haughty. Each garment looked like it held a secret: slightly too-wide shoulders on a garment made of the softest cream, lightweight wool hangs straight to hide a multitude of lumps and bumps - not that any of the serenly turned-out models had these. Customers will adore the belted jackets that skimmed mid-thigh and the fluid black, navy, and white jersey pieces.

Stella Tennant made her first appearance on London catwalks this week at Bella Freud's show. The collection was also for real women: not the sort who work, but who play - hard. Sponsored by Motorola, the show featured the smallest mobile phone ever produced. Clipped neatly on to a tiny suede bikini, it is perfect for those important chats on the beach.