Bohemian Stein is Jensen's inspiration for latest collection

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The Independent Online

Think of watering cans and you think of gardens. Think of gardens and you think of Gertrude Stein? Peter Jensen does, and has included a print with a watering can motif in his spring/summer 2004 collection, entitled "Gertrude" in a tribute to the avant-garde writer.

Elsewhere in the collection, shown in London yesterday, Stein's lesbianism and bohemianism were the inspiration for gender fluidity - salmon pink shorts for him, an oversized striped shirt dress with waistcoat for her.

If this all sounds a little po-faced, remember that Jensen is a designer known for his humorous take on clothes. On the face of it, his designs can seem remarkably normal - square, even. Look more closely, and there are subtle twists: trousers are cut deliberately short; powder blue round-neck sweaters that could have come from the menswear department of Marks & Spencer are made ofLurex.

Any quirks aside, there is a gentleness at play here that epitomises the new generation of British-trained designers uninterested in razor-sharp tailoring and pyrotechnic displays. These are clothes that are more considerate to the wearer. The style, although relaxed, is never bland.

Miki Fukai's collection, shown afterwards, could hardly have been more different. Here was a look so unforgiving and body-conscious it recalled the designs of Azzedine Alaia and even the bandage dresses of Herve Leger.

Fukai has taken these references, fused them with the sportswear tradition and then intelligently deconstructed them. Skintight grey marl salopettes were worn with the straps hanging free; little hooded tops were backless and halterneck; and leggings were reduced to nothing more than criss-cross ribbons of material snaking up and down legs.

More voluminous - although still athletically inspired - were canary yellow parachute silk boxer shorts and a strapless minidress.

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