Designer Paul Costelloe kicks off glitzy London Fashion Week with eye-catching show

By Gregory Katz, AP
Friday, September 17, 2010

Fashion focus hits London as fashion week opens

LONDON — Traditionalist Paul Costelloe kicked off London Fashion Week on Friday by breaking with his old-school tendencies, offering a brash, eye-catching show filled with short, flouncy dresses in soft colors.

Abstract checks and some diamond-shaped art deco styles completed the look.

Costelloe was the first to offer his vision for the spring and summer 2011 collections as fashionistas descended on Somerset House next to the River Thames for London’s five-day, champagne-fueled extravaganza.

Costelloe usually opens fashion week with a somewhat sedate show emphasizing cut and quality, but he kicked it up Friday with a display described as “Tinkerbell-turned-party girl.”

The short dresses included metallic weaves and twills that indeed twinkled in the spotlights, many featuring high waists and subtle pleats. A handful of floor-length dresses were topped by silvery metallic-style jackets with a space age look.

His playful mood was highlighted by his own outfit — Costelloe wore a jacket and tie with dark slacks, accented by white Converse sneakers.

His menswear was fanciful — few will opt for the sports jackets, pressed shorts and black patent leather shoes with dark socks a few models were wearing — but the crowd enjoyed the six young men in well-cut suits who strutted out near the end of the show.

Maria Grachvogel’s spring and summer collection was a minimalist celebration of female beauty, with long, unadorned dresses and models wearing naturally styled hair and very little makeup.

The pared-down silhouette had a fresh look as Grachvogel experimented with silver crepe catsuits and vivid prints. Some dresses in unusual colors like canary yellow and pale silver gave the collection a faraway feel set off by the jungle drums prominent on the soundtrack.

Many of the evening wear pieces were cut from a single piece of fabric that draped naturally over the body with a minimum of seams and decoration for deceptively simple, sensual look.

Still ahead in the coming days are a host of London favorites including Vivienne Westwood, who usually uses her Red Label show to push her environmental concerns; Christopher Bailey of Burberry, Stella McCartney, Paul Smith and others as the fashion focus shifts from New York to London.

The weekend will be marked by late-night parties for the fashion faithful, but the mood will turn solemn Monday when a memorial service will be held for Alexander McQueen, the celebrated designer who took his own life earlier this year.

The gatherings reflect the importance of fashion here. A recent report by Oxford Economics, commissioned by the British Fashion Council, said fashion is Britain’s 15th largest industry, employing more than 800,000 people and contributing 21 billion pounds ($33 billion) a year to the economy

Fashion Week, according to the council, generates orders worth around 100 million pounds.

Friday’s schedule also included a last-minute addition dealing with environmentally friendly “sustainable” fashions to be shown at one of Prince Charles’ residences.

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