Romantic vision for London fashion

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

CAROLINE CHARLES put romance back in fashion yesterday on the opening day of London Fashion Week.

The designer's new collection was an autumnal dreamland of rich brocades and deep luxury velvets. The models were pre-Raphaelite visions, complete with tumbling hair, black jet chokers, and crosses on chains.

Ms Charles said: 'I wanted it to be very dark, beautiful and romantic.'

She used colour with a sensualist's touch: deep emerald green, plum, and indigo. She ran the colours into each other in degrade chiffon.

Every garment was long-line: sweeping coat dresses, riding coats, and double layer dresses. Trousers were slim, or very wide, full and flared. Blouses were ruffled, collars and cuffs trimmed with velvet or satin.

Jean Muir, showing as usual in her Mayfair showroom, was rather more subdued. Jersey dresses and jackets were immaculately cut, as ever. Typical of the relaxed autumn look was a red wide V-neck cashmere sweater worn over wide black jersey trousers. Ms Muir avoids grand fashion statements, believing in easy timeless dressing.

Edina Ronay has bounced back from the problems of last year, when her business went into receivership. Backed by Dawson International, the knitwear giant, she staged a show at Claridge's Hotel.

It was a big bold relaunch, complete with the supermodel Naomi Campbell. Ms Ronay had reached deep into her bag of tricks, and covered all the principal themes in contemporary fashion, from flares and long line tailoring to loose layers of chiffon and long, stretch-knit dresses. There were nods to the Seventies, to the Thirties and to the current enthusiasm for grunge. This was a young, fresh and very funky collection.

Ronald Miller, executive chairman of Dawson, said: 'The show was up to our high expectations. We have worked with a variety of international designers for a long time, and felt the time was right to have one in house.'

Thirteen designers are showing their collections on the catwalk at London Fashion Week. The show ends tonight, but store buyers will be in town through the weekend to inspect other designers collections on display at the Ritz Hotel.

(Photograph omitted)