Venus rises to fantasy fashion challenge

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EYES THICK with blue eyeshadow, his fleshy lips carefully painted with red glittery lipstick, Venus was all dolled up - not for a hard night out in shadowy clubland, but a daylight turn on the catwalk.

It was a bit like catching Dracula up and about after daybreak. Transvestites and drag queens, although sartorially flamboyant, are rarely so at midday on the edge of the City of London, in the fading splendour of Old Spitalfields Market in the East End.

It was all part of Alternative Fashion Week. Real clothes for real fetishists were on display. These fantasy creations were a small part of the many clothes featured on the first day of this week-long event. The catwalk show, which takes place daily at 1.15pm in the former fruit and vegetable 'cathedral', also featured young milliners and more down-to-earth designers - well almost, with dresses constructed from old bedspreads and curtains.

While a live jazz band played, a cosmopolitan audience gathered. Briefcases lingered longer over lunch; carpenters downed tools and took up pole positions on scaffolding; businessmen briefly became interested in fashion.

After the first few outfits one onlooker found it 'pretty tame really'. But than came Dane's Scandal and Corruption collection. The Tannoy informed us: 'Inspired by lies, hypocrisy and a deep-rooted belief that normality is an unworkable concept, these clothes represent some of the realities of 20th century lives.'

Venus and his friends strutted their stuff in Union Jack printed skirts, tartan kilts, basques and skirts made from football scarves. Dane's girlfriend proudly modelled her pregnant belly, emblazoned simply with the words 'My Baby'.

'It's sick, really sick.'

'Yeah but I bet you dress like that every night,' said the young computer programmer, sotto voce, to his friend.

As the music ended, there was a collection for the Aids charity London Lighthouse and the businessmen all drifted away, back to reality.

(Photograph omitted)