Return of supermodel boosts rising fashion star

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The Independent Online

She is the supermodel who once said that she wouldn't get out of bed for less than $10,000. Yet last night at London Fashion Week, Linda Evangelista took to a catwalk at the Chelsea Pensioners' Club in west London to model for newcomer Giles Deacon. It was Evangelista's first time on a British catwalk since she paraded John Galliano's stellar collections back in the Eighties.

She is the supermodel who once said that she wouldn't get out of bed for less than $10,000. Yet last night at London Fashion Week, Linda Evangelista took to a catwalk at the Chelsea Pensioners' Club in west London to model for newcomer Giles Deacon. It was Evangelista's first time on a British catwalk since she paraded John Galliano's stellar collections back in the Eighties.

This latest coup was further proof that while Deacon may be only in his second season, he is no ingénue. As a former designer for the Gucci Group and the Milanese Bottega Veneta label, he knows how to make a splash. He is aided and abetted by stylist Katie Grand, an all-powerful British fashion editor who also works for Miuccia Prada, no less.

In the modest environs of London Fashion Week, where unknown talents, anonymous models and downbeat locations are the order of the day, a shot of glamour works wonders. Deacon has become British fashion's great white hope.

His clothes are as glamorous as his imported mannequins. Jute jackets with exaggerated Forties shoulders, five-inch golden platform sandals and sweeping kaftans printed with photographs of owls seemed like costume rather than clothes. Understatement is not his style. Deacon last night showed a pencil skirt entirely covered with pheasant feathers, jewellery crafted from Wedgwood porcelain and a wooden handbag that looked like it might fold out into a coffee table. Tailoring was immaculate but often looked stiff and theatrical rather than elegant. When the fabrics softened and he lightened his touch, however, there were some pretty clothes: a bias-cut chiffon dress printed with "harvest festival" motifs was lovely, as was the royal blue halter neck dress modelled by Evangelista.

Earlier in the day, Sir Paul Smith also adopted a natural theme for his latest offering. "Optimism, happiness and natural stuff ­ like grass!" he said of the inspiration behind a collection which was paraded back and forth on a real turf catwalk at the Royal Horticultural Hall in west London. Floral prints abounded: yellow daffodils, forget-me-nots, pink pansies and purple hydrangeas decorated satin shirtdresses, tailored shorts and tiny bikinis. The flowery patterns worked best on girlish sundresses, their innocent charm wilting somewhat when applied to more ladylike items such as pencil skirts or jackets.

To 26-year-old Jonathan Saunders, who also presented his spring/ summer collection yesterday, printed clothes are close to an art form. For his third fashion show, the Scottish designer sent out figure-hugging jersey dresses and long chiffon frocks, all lavished with handcrafted techniques such as devoré and acid dyes. The final effect was kaleidoscopic, if not particularly accessible.

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