Hats off to the London style

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London's fashion seaseon had a lot to prove, writes Marion Hume. Now truncated into a weekend and stuck after the long Paris fashion season (instead of between Milan and Paris as has long been the case) London had to pull out all the stops to prove to the French, the Japanese and most importantly the Americans that the stopover here was worth it.

Philip Treacy did it. The 26-year-old Irishman is already established as the leading international milliner to the top international fashion design names, including Chanel, Versace and Valentino - but last night he was out to prove he could stand on his own.

His audience included his Italian designer client, Valentino, the Italian shopkeeper and arbiter of taste Carla Sozzani, Ellin Saltzman, chief mandarin of the New York store Bergdorf Goodman, and Boy George and Naomi Campbell's fiance, U2's Adam Clayton.

He showed hat after hat after fabulous hat - on Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Christy Turlington. Every single hat defied description. But here is an attempt - there was a unicorn horn of golden lace; a Surrealist glove hat which clutched the forehead; a patent leather peaked military cap which was overblown with burnt pheasant feathers flying; and a disco sequinned version of the 10-gallon hat. Other hats looked like planets in orbit.

Treacy's is certainly the standout show of London. But there was tough competition; from Flyte Ostell, whose paint-splattered chiffon shifts brought applause; from Dublin's John Rocha, who mixed Irish linens with funky lame cropped tops and sheath dresses with bright prints inspired by the painter Georgia O'Keefe; and Bella Freud's perky, shorty schoolgirl collection.

Also good was Betty Jackson's offering. Jackson is the longest-established of the London designers who showed over the weekend and her Kashmiri-inspired prints and relaxed easy layering, which will please real women, proved that she too is still worth coming to London to see.

(Photograph omitted)