Designers champion eccentricity, heritage at London Fashion Week

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[February 17, 2014] By Li-mei Hoang

LONDON (Reuters) Britain's established designers took to the stage on the third day of London Fashion Week on Sunday to showcase their latest collections celebrating the nation's eccentricity and heritage.

Paul Smith, who has worked in the industry for more than 40 years, clothed models in silk-printed pajama tops and jackets, loosely fitted trousers and metallic colored knitwear.

Inspired by an era before big brand clothing stores dominated the high street, Smith drew on his recollections of the 1960s when Britons made eccentric fashion statements.

Full-length dressing gown coats and fitted pencil skirts in shades of grey, dusty pink, ochre and olive green also featured in Smith's autumn/winter 2014 collection, alongside fluffy gilets and printed scarves.

Retail clothing chain Topshop used traditional English materials such as shearling wool for its gilets and jackets, alongside organza and chiffons embellished with sequins to create a edgy rebellious look.

Models wore long thick coats draped off the shoulder, in bright blue and lemon yellow, as well as long flared skirts and cropped knitted jumpers.


Earlier in the day, designer Richard Nicoll displayed models in neatly tailored suits and dresses, long skirts with pleated origami detailing and slouchy jumpers in a medley of richly-colored shades.

Nicoll said he wanted to experiment with different colors this season, using russet reds, bright fuchsia, ochre and pale greens throughout his collection.

"I wanted to play with more opulent, quite traditional colors but do them in a modern way in modern textures and modern silhouettes," he said.

"It was important for me to develop textures and patterns and a richness of feeling, without print and without overly complicated patterns."

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British designer Alice Temperley's richly-colored, folkloric collection was inspired by an embroidered robe she had seen on a recent trip to Lake Como in Italy.

Models glided down the runway in the ballroom of London's Savoy hotel, dressed in navy jacquard coats, floor-length crocheted dresses and sheer-paneled blouses as well Temperley's signature intricately beaded, jewel-toned evening gowns.

She told Reuters her aim was to make "something that's kind of exquisite, but very, very wearable".

British Fashion Week, a bi-annual event attended by more than 5,000 people each season, is estimated to bring in around 100 million pounds ($170 million) in orders.

Ken Downing, fashion director at U.S. luxury retail store Neiman Marcus, said demand for luxury goods was still strong, with fabric and manufacturing quality playing a key role.

"Women who are very engaged in fashion and who are really enthusiastic about brands want super special things," he said.

($1 = 0.5977 British pounds)

(Additional reporting by Brenda Goh; editing by Alistair Lyon)

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