London spurns 'bling' thing for jaunty colour and tomboy fun

Household names are an endangered species at London Fashion Week, but yesterday Paul Smith and Nicole Farhi, among the most established designers in Britain, showed strong autumn/winter 2005 collections.

Smith's show, at the Royal Horticultural Hall in west London, was bold and upbeat, building on his reputation for tailoring and quirky patterns. His tomboy looks included narrow flannel trousers and single-breasted jackets, worn with 1960s-style patent shoes, striped school scarves and jaunty black trilbies.

"I started off in menswear and I wanted to show my character in this show," Smith said. "A lot of this sexy fashion and bare breasts on the catwalk and 'bling' we've been seeing is starting to level out now."

He made a canny commercial move by putting jeans, profitable for any brand, on his catwalk for the first time. The tartan of his drainpipe trousers and capes was the Smith clan.

Nicole Farhi also showed an impressive collection, at the Banqueting Hall in Whitehall. Her almost entirely black showing had a new-found slick appeal that did not forfeit her trademark feminine touch.

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