Young designer shines with dress made from lamps

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The Independent Online

The designer Gareth Pugh enrolled the help of singer Casey Spooner of the American band Fischerspooner to model the dramatic garment, which was made from laminated lamps.

The preceding outfits in Pugh's show, which was held, perhaps appropriately, at the Electric Ballroom nightclub in Camden, were no less weird and wonderful. Instead of chiffon or jersey, Pugh employed, variously, red elastic bands, fetish-style patent leather and balloons to bizarre but impressive effect.

London's reputation for catwalk high-jinks has waned since the late Nineties, when Alexander McQueen and Hussein Chalayan staged spectacular shows in the capital, the latter often using new technologies to create dazzling costume pieces.

With silhouettes reminiscent of Star Wars, Pugh's collection - his second since leaving Central Saint Martins in 2003 - was pure costume, of the sort that the late performance artist Leigh Bowery might have worn, rather than wearable fashion. At present, only one shop, in Japan, sells his designs. But the dramatic impact of this show was a reminder, whether the more conservative in the industry like it or not, of why British fashion is considered unique.

Another up-and-coming London-trained designer, Roksanda Ilincic, also turned out an impressive spring/summer 2006 show yesterday, this time with far more wearable, and quirkily beautiful, clothes.

Her intimate show, held at Terence Conran's Bibendum restaurant in west London, opened with a short, A-line dress in gold and black brocade floral that was so stiff it appeared to hover around its wearer. Big volumes are an overriding theme in fashion right now, but Ilincic had her own, very romantic, take on trend. A floor-length black duchesse satin dress, smothered in whorled roses and trimmed at the hem with mint-green tulle, was a witty take on the fishtail dresses which are ubiquitous on today's red carpets. Meanwhile Ilincic gave the "sack back" silhouette, first introduced by Cristobal Balenciaga in the Fifties, a new look by folding the back of an oyster-coloured bolero jacket into concertina pleats that fanned out behind the model's shoulder blades. It looked not unlike a lampshade, but, then, at London Fashion Week, such oddness is allowable.

Ilincic, who grew up in Belgrade, also studied fashion at Central Saint Martins and set up her own label three years ago. She said that she had deliberately limited the number of garments in this small-scale show. "I wanted to have just a few outfits, to make it feel like a precious jewellery box," she said. Her romantic silhouettes and use of couture fabrics such as taffeta and chiffon may have echoed the recent work of Paris houses such as Lanvin and Rochas, but it nevertheless demonstrates its own unique vision. Ilincic is one of the designers sponsored by Topshop under its New Generation scheme, which helped to launch the careers of Alexander McQueen and Sophia Kokosalaki. She is a name to watch.