Made to measure for the real world

London Fashion Week: Ronit Zilkha weighs in for the working woman

London Fashion Week opened yesterday morning with a show by Ronit Zilkha, a new name to the catwalks, on the day that Vivienne Westwood announced her return to the London catwalks next spring.

Zilkha is one of more than 100 designers from across Britain who will be displaying their spring/summer '97 collections at the Natural History Museum, west London, over the next four days.

Also joining in the capital's fashion parade is Donna Karan, who is arriving in London to open her new store, and the supermodels Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell and Elle Macpherson, in town yesterday to promote their Fashion Cafe which opens tomorrow.

Zilkha, a diminutive 29-year-old originally from Israel, is a relative unknown in the fashion world, but has successfully run her three London shops (two more open today) for five years this October. Her customers include Esther Rantzen, Cherie Booth and Maureen Lipman.

Zilkha's Spring-Summer 1997 show began with the fanfare "Welcome to the real world", and followed through with the kind of clothes working women can wear.

The show presented a comprehensive wardrobe for women who work, play, and go to evening functions, but also like to look feminine and in control. The show moved from turquoise bikinis through to citrus-coloured skirt suits that were structured to fit any shape. The clothes looked aimed at the 30-to-40 age group in the first part of the show, but the surprise came towards the end, when sleek, single-breasted black suits were teamed with cream necks with graphic but simple black stripes.

There were also A-line skirts, floaty floral dresses, striped trousers, and a selection of black jersey, and jet-beaded bias-cut evening wear that would do any siren justice.

After the show, Zilkha was happy. "I am really proud to have been able to open not just London Fashion Week, but also to be the very first show of the whole season."

Later in the day Antonio Berardi held his third catwalk show at the Royal Opera House a mix of feisty glamour and immaculate tailoring, that received a fantastic reception.

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