Spectre raised of Brit invasion

New York fashion: London designers outshine Italian rivals
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The Independent Online
TAMSIN BLANCHARD

Fashion Editor

Tanya Sarne, of the British label Ghost, showed her autumn/winter `96 collection at a disused bank in New York's Union Square on Saturday night as American interest in British labels continued to rise.

This is the third season she has shown in New York. Although there were other European labels showing, including the Italians Versus, Gianfranco Ferre and Miu Miu, Ms Sarne was joined by her fellow Briton, Alexander McQueen, and it was the British contingent that attracted the most attention.

There is a general excitement here about all things British, be it Blur and Pulp, designers or British models. One New York columnist could hardly contain her excitement about the prospect of interviewing Mr McQueen after the Ghost show, saying: "I worship him!"

By showing in America, designers can raise their profile and saleability. Ghost has been able to expand on an already solid US market. As one buyer from a store in Denver pointed out, Ghost is popular with American working women because it is modern and sexy as well as appealing to the 30-plus woman who is bigger than a size 10. And the label's success has grown at home too - Liberty now devotes more floor space to Ghost than to almost any other designer in its store in Regent Street in central London.

For the new collection, Ms Sarne used heavy stretch fabrics to make bright white tunics, flared trousers and long hooded kaftans that looked like they were inspired by the costumes from Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica. She also used a grey fleeced fabric and quilted satin. For evening wear, there were bias-cut 1930s shift dresses with contrasting fabrics curving and zig-zagging around the body.

Up to now, the American designers showing in New York have presented collections that are based around a similar silhouette - a long narrow jacket and trousers that cling and flare at the ankle. There is very little new thought or creativity involved. What Ghost showed was the midway line - that clothes can have a strong identity as well as being thoroughly wearable without losing the momentum and creativity that drives fashion forward.

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