Ghost serves up vampish vision of Thirties

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The Independent Online

in New York

The invitation was to view the British label Ghost's autumn winter collection for 1995-96 and to dine at the Oyster Bar underneath Grand Central Station. It was an unusual setting for a fashion show and one sure to create atmosphere and excitement.

Oysters were served and next on the menu were 46 variations on a vampish Thirties theme - with fitted jackets over slim skirts, waterfall asymmetric cuts, slinky velvet dresses, and quilted, textured coats and suits. Models walked between the tables, stopping to pose for photographers and to chat with friends. The show was informal, but the clothes had more of a dressed- up edge to them than usual.

The secret of Ghost's considerable success and popularity is wearable clothes that do not restrict the body. The designer Tania Sarne shies away from power dressing and uses living women as her inspiration for relaxed clothing that fits into everyday life without looking like costume or, for that matter, like Gap.

Liza Bruce, another London-based designer, showed her collection in New York last night, while Russell Bennett, an Englishman in America, presented a tableau-style show earlier in the week with a collection of Thirties bias cut suits and dresses in black and white.

Young British designers have also been making their presence felt in the city this week at Project London, a downtown showroom with the work of seven up-and-coming British designers who are hoping to make their mark in the United States.

The Department of Trade and Industry has subsidised the trip to New York for Antony and Alison, Copperwheat-Blundell, Xavier Foley, Ben de Lisi, Sonja Nuttall and Fabio Piras - some of whom have not had such a golden opportunity to show in New York before.

A successful open day also resulted in the influential fashion magazine Harper's Bazaar wanting to book five of the collections to photograph. The idea for Project London came from a New York agency, Nick Hallack Associates. The aim is to keep the project moving on each season - it showed in Paris last month - with designers leaving when they are better equipped to show independently.