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London's dedicated leaders of fashion

ALEXANDER MCQUEEN, 29, is from east London. He has been described as a "lout" as well as a genius and a visionary. He calls himself a "yob".

But this is all part of his hype machine. More precisely McQueen is a contradiction in terms. A genius fashion designer who hails from a working- class background, he has a natural disdain for the wealthy people who wear his clothes.

He also has the bravado to say what he thinks, but those beliefs tend to be misunderstood and reduced to sensationalism.

He graduated in 1992 from the MA course at Central St Martin's after training on Savile Row. He is a fantastic tailor, and tends toward the dramatic statement, while still creating clothes for strong women. At first no-one understood his collections. Given names like "Highland Rape" it was easy to see why.

In 1997 he began work as designer for Givenchy, for whom he designs four collections a year as well as his own London-based line.

Hussein Chalayan, 28 , was brought up in north London, but his parents are Turkish Cypriot.

Cerebral, emotional and patriotic, Chalayan is informed by Middle Eastern culture, often using his clothes - which are regarded as avant-garde art pieces that retain their commercial edge - to question fashion and body politics by restricting, revealing or concealing the body.

He graduated from St Martin's in 1993 with a BA in Fashion Design, and gained notoriety with a graduation collection of dresses which he buried in his back garden with iron filings to create a rusted effect. Browns put these clothes in their coveted window space.

Since then he has used unrippable paper to make clothes (worn by Bjork on the cover of her album Post), used flight paths as surface decoration, and explored the nature of the Muslim Chador.