Tomasz is the star as fashion week lives up to the hype

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The Independent Online
Three things became clear as London Fashion Week sashayed into its second day. Firstly, it really is the largest and most professionally produced set of shows we have seen here. Secondly, there is a more to British fashion than just innovation and over-excitement, and the third point - it is worth all the hype.

Early yesterday, Tomasz Starzewski, a London-born designer of Polish descent, showed his collection of grown up glamour for ladies who lunch. The designer, whose company has been owned by Asprey, the luxury goods firm, since 1993, has stuck to his guns throughout the resurgence of London as a fashion capital, because his dedicated clients - including Joan Collins, Shirley Bassey and Cosima von Bulow - know he will deliver.

The catwalk presentation was a show in the traditional sense of the word, nice clothes for women of a certain age and bank balance, pleasant-looking models and not a gratuitous inch of flesh in sight.

Starzewski, 36, who used to sleep by his cutting table in a small Fulham flat, has come a long way. His success since joining Asprey mirrors the fortunes of the British fashion industry. In 1993, fashion week had 16 shows and 50 static exhibitors. In 1997, the numbers have leapt to 54 and 150 - reflected in the money generated by designer fashion. In 1989, the UK fashion design industry was worth pounds 185m, this year it is expected to top pounds 600m. Almost half of that will come from exports abroad.

Matthew Williamson, 25, another graduate of St Martin's, showed his third mini-collection yesterday at Ladbroke Hall in west London. It consisted of 11 beautifully executed garments which were modelled by, among others, Kate Moss and Helena Christiansen - confirmed fans of his. The collection - "Electric Angels" - featured bright orange, pink and turquoise dresses and jackets. Some garments were decorated with finely embroidered dragonflies and butterflies, others were embroidered with a single peacock feather. Matching head-dresses by Stephen Jones completed the refreshing look.