Glamorous British steal Paris's clothes

London Fashion Week: Supermodels paid pounds 13,000 for launch of sport s- wear collection

The American designer Tommy Hilfiger will be launching his women's sports- wear collection on Saturday as part of London Fashion Week, which begins today. It is rumoured that his models will be paid in the region of pounds 13,000 to appear in his show, so the supermodels are in town, and London is managing to generate the kind of buzz usually reserved for the Paris pret a porter shows.

Naomi Campbell is one model who has been lured by the Hilfiger fee, but she will also be supporting young designers who cannot compete in terms of funds. Antonio Berardi, the young designer about to show his third collection, will be paying his models, including Ms Campbell, in clothes.

Yesterday, Marcus Constable and Earley Palmeiro showed their first collections in off-schedule shows. All of them are St Martins' graduates, keeping the tradition of London alive. They cannot give their models anything, not even clothes, but that is part of the fun.

Young British designers have been making waves in the world of fashion for years, but until recently they were lured away to the bright lights of Paris, like our most famous export John Galliano. Now our most talented designers live, work and show on British soil. Alexander McQueen, Hussein Chalayan and also Antonio Berardi are all from the UK, and it is reflected in the creativity and eclecticism of their work. Supermodels will work for them for a small fee or clothes, just for the association. The London fashion scene is currently basking in the glow of praise from American fashion bibles, W, and Harper's Bazaar.

This month, W proclaimed "Forget Paris and New York. Merry old London is the only place to be for the hip and happening". Harper's Bazaar has dedicated an eight-page fashion story to London style. Simon Ward from the British Fashion Council, however, is keeping his feet on the ground, "I feel that London is getting better all the time. A few years ago we were just showing in one tent, at the Natural History Museum. Now there are two tents and a double-decker exhibition hall, which indicates that the recession in terms of fashion is well and truly over."

The proof of the pudding, however, will only come when the international buyers show their faces at London Fashion Week. "The designers tell me that all the buyers they have spoken to have said `see you in London'," Ward says. This week there are enough celebrity happenings to encourage fashion press and buyers the world over to London. Thursday night sees Donna Karan holding a star-studded party to celebrate the opening on her new shop in New Bond Street. Also on Thursday Claudia Schiffer, Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell are hosting the grand opening of their Fashion Cafe in London's Leicester Square. Guests for that evening are expected to be Liam and Noel Gallagher from Oasis, Kate Moss and a host of rock stars from Mick Hucknall to Nico Torres from Bon Jovi.

The fashion industry in this country is worth pounds 7.6bn a year, of which pounds 2.9bn is exported. Designer fashion represents pounds 250m of that figure, a small percentage, but the volume and quality of those clothes speak for themselves in terms of the world market.

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