Feb 21, 2010
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19th century France crashes London Fashion Week

Feb 21, 2010

LONDON, Feb 20, 2010 (AFP) - A French woman who defied Napoleon was the inspiration for Kinder Aggugini's show at London Fashion Week Saturday 20 February, as sweeping silk gowns and military-style tunics mixed with laser-sharp prints.

Photo: AFP/Ben Stansall

The Savile Row-trained designer worked with Vivienne Westwood, Calvin Klein and Versace before launching out on his own in 2007, and is now one of the hottest tickets of the six-day fashion event that began here Friday 19 February.

There was no repeat of last season's riot of colour and print, largely because this is the autumn/winter 2010 collection, and the muted palette fits with the subdued atmosphere here caused by the death of Alexander McQueen.

McQueen was found hanged earlier this month and the loss of one of Britain's most famous and innovative designers has cast a shadow over the whole event.

On a catwalk decorated with 19th-century candelabra, Aggugini's models wore rigid cashmere tunics inspired by period war uniforms over floaty colourful silks, while others were draped in elegant gowns in blacks, greens and pinks.

"A lot of the silhouettes were taken from the historical, but the techniques in which they were manufactured were cut with laser machines -- it's ultra modern," the designer told AFP backstage.

He said the mix of structured jackets and floaty dresses reflected the constraints upon Juliette Recamier, a French woman who held literary and political meetings which eventually saw her exiled from Paris by Napoleon I.

"This woman was constricted by the power of Napoleon and yet she was very easy and free," he said.

Earlier in the 18th century Somerset House where London Fashion Week is based, British luxury brand DAKS made its debut on the catwalk here with a collection of classic pieces in black, asphalt grey, navy and camel.

Belted long shorts in the 100-year-old label's signature checks were matched with a simple white shirt and grey cardigan, and -- in a further nod to one of this season's trends -- there was a pinstripe shorts suit in navy.

Taking inspiration from the world of aviation, there were also black leather capes worn over jumpsuits, black leather jackets and a military-style cropped box jacket in grey, matched with camel-coloured drainpipe trousers.

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