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London pride

A mix of fresh talent and established names brought record crowds to the London Fashion Week catwalks, but Marc Jacobs proved the biggest draw

This season, London Fashion Week lived up to its reputation of showcasing hot new talent as effectively as more established British labels.

After growing in stature over recent seasons, the capital hosted US sensation Marc Jacobs, who closed the week by presenting his Marc by Marc Jacobs diffusion line at Claridges Hotel to drum up publicity for his new flagship on Mount Street in London. As well as attracting celebrities such as film director Sofia Coppola and actress Selma Blair, big international buyers were present as well as the international fashion press, which traditionally uses LFW as a breather between New York and Milan. We may have the Americans to thank for it, but London is finally on the fashion map.

Jacobs' perfectly delivered collection of rustic layered plaids and feminine smock dresses was a breath of fresh air and stayed faithful to his signature commercial appeal. Boosting his UK image, the show proved to be a marketing masterstroke and follows Giorgio Armani in creating a new international buzz around LFW.

After his glittering debut at LFW last season, Christopher Kane did not disappoint on his second showing. Proving he is no one-trick pony, Kane presented a seemingly incongruous mix of ammunition-belt cuffs on velvet and leather ice-skating-style dresses. Leather proved popular for designers as diverse as Aquascutum and Giles, highlighting the new sculptural silhouette stemming from the recent trend for volume.

As hotly anticipated as ever, Giles' couture-like collection included slim-fit suede dresses, leather shift styles with exaggerated blousons or giant puffed shoulders, and jewel-encrusted satin designs from corseted hourglass numbers to quilted tulip shapes.

In a season where evening fabrics were given new life in daywear pieces, velvet, taffeta and ultra-shiny organza were used in abundance. Expensive and plush, these materials will prove difficult to recreate on the high street at lower price points and may finally offer a more tangible point of difference.

Elsewhere, body-conscious silhouettes and a spectrum of neon colours kept the 1980s theme burning at Louise Goldin, Nathan Jenden and, more surprisingly, Paul Smith, who also picked up on the 1920s undercurrent with dropped-waist dresses and Great Gatsby-inspired tailoring.

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