Spice and variety from young designers: Roger Tredre reports on the stylistic diversity of Graduate Fashion Week

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The Independent Online
THE ANNUAL fashion spectacular known as Graduate Fashion Week closed yesterday in Islington, north London.

The unique marathon event included 13 catwalk shows staged over three days. Two hundred final- year student collections were shown, amounting to 12 hours of fashion.

The fun bit was working out which international designers are influencing the new generation. Sasha Kelly from the University of Northumbria at Newcastle drew inspiration from Rifat Ozbek, designer of the year, showing techno- tribal purple devore velvet trouser suits with wrapped turbans. Zoe Graham from the University of Derby produced a sparkling collection in tapestry fabrics that deserve to land her a job with Vivienne Westwood.

The Japanese designers - Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garcons - are strong influences this year. But students also like the designs of Ann Demeulemeester, Martin Margiela and John Galliano.

Each student was allotted two minutes of catwalk time - a 120- second examination in which they had to impress would-be employers, reassure industry sponsors that their money had been well spent, and prove to their relatives in the audience that they had not been on a prolonged holiday for the past three or four years.

The strength of Graduate Fashion Week is the breadth of fashion on display. Within a 10-minute spell of a show, a typical running order might include groovy Seventies clubwear, bright patterned jumpers for children, smart tailoring for men, and Amish-inspired loose separates for women.

Many of the shows at the Business Design Centre drew big audiences. Nearly 2,000 watched the show by the University of Northumbria; another 1,000 were at the University of Westminister show yesterday morning.

The students are mounting two extra catwalk shows for the public today which will include highlights from the last three days.

(Photograph omitted)