Fabulous start to London Fashion Week

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The Independent Online
LONDON Fashion Week started with a laugh yesterday as Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley launched their new range of Absolutely Fabulous T-shirts. The television show became reality.

Members of the foreign press looked bemused as the British wiped tears from their eyes while Edina and Patsy cavorted on the catwalk in their favourite store, Harvey Nichols. Patsy, cigarette hanging from lusciously painted lips, looked sleazy as ever as she followed Naomi Campbell up the runway, imitating the supermodel's famous catwalk sashay.

The collection of Bubbles T- shirts, Patsy and Edina sunglasses and Ab Fab bags bearing the logo 'Fash Mag Slag' was designed by Betty Jackson and will be sold in Harvey Nichols and on the high street this winter. The initial idea was Ms Saunders's.

Caroline Charles could have done with Edina and Patsy on her team. Stiff, badly fitting, white stiletto shoes teamed with shiny white PVC macs were not funny. The collection was accessorised with enough diamante to sink a ship and gave her customers nothing new, while Elizabeth Hurley and Twiggy added to the glamour count at the Amanda Wakeley show.

This weekend, there are more foreign fashion press and buyers than ever in London, including Liz Tilberis, editor of American Harper's Bazaar and a team from American Vogue. It is up to the organisers of the event and the designers who show this weekend to ensure that they return next season.

Yesterday, the US designer Donna Karan opened her first London shop - four storeys and 12,282 sq ft of space - in Old Bond Street. Calvin Klein is set to join her there later this year.

Meanwhile, British designers continue to leave London Fashion Week as soon as they are confident, showing in Paris, Milan and New York. That they do not show in London is irrelevant. British fashion exports are worth pounds 2m, British designers like John Galliano and Vivienne Westwood are now major players on the international circuit while London is becoming a springboard for fresh, new designers.

Tomorrow sees the New Generation Designers' showcase - one of the hottest tickets of the London 'week', particularly with US buyers.

(Photograph omitted)