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Designers old and new dazzle at London Fashion Week

Model Cara Delevingne presents a creation from the Issa Autumn/Winter 2013 collection during London Fashion Week, February 16, 2013. REUTERS
Model Cara Delevingne presents a creation from the Issa Autumn/Winter 2013 collection during London Fashion Week, February 16, 2013. REUTERS

By Dasha Afanasieva

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's long-established designers brought classic elegance to the catwalks, while up-and-coming talent packed a punch with fun, youthful styles on the second day of London Fashion Week.

One of Kate Middleton's' favored designers, Daniella Helayel, showcased a collection of printed chiffon kaftans, woven jacquards and geometric patterns.

Models wore thick jackets with shearing and fur linings, accessorized with wide brimmed hats and eagle feathers in a collection inspired by the rugged landscape of the Navajo Indians.

"There are lots of feathers, lots of feather prints, it was also inspired by rugs, different textures and body paints," Helayel, designer for Issa London, told Reuters backstage after the show.

With buyers from 39 different countries in attendance, the British Fashion Council estimates orders of more than 100 million pounds ($155.23 million) are placed during London Fashion Week each season.

The five-day event blends emerging talent with veteran designers such as Vivienne Westwood and is best known for its cutting-edge talent and avant garde trends.

HOUSEHOLD NAMES

Coral pink mohair bags and oversized green coats pinned at the waist with matching belts featured in John Rocha's collection.

John Rocha, a household name in Britain who designs a high street collection for department store Debenhams, said he took his inspiration from the countryside surrounding Dublin, where he has lived for more than 20 years.

"It's based a lot on the Irish winter countryside, so almost like tree barks, or roses, it's all about trying to mimic the color I see outside," Rocha told Reuters after the show.

"I'm just trying to bring all these things together and make something that's beautiful."

Earlier in the day, on a pillar box-red stage, boxy Sixties silhouettes in canary yellow and shocks of fluorescent orange burst into the packed show of British designer Jasper Conran.

Earthy olives muffled loud neons, while cloche hats in matching shades added a feminine finish to the collection, which was viewed from the front row by actor Richard E. Grant.

"There is a hell of a lot of bright color, which is balanced off with dark aubergines and blues and chocolate browns ... really in your face," Conran told Reuters before the show.

Conran, who also collaborates with Debenhams, said Britain should see garment manufacturing as a business opportunity.

"China is going to be a huge emerging market for this country, and they want things that are made in Britain. We don't have a manufacturing industry but that doesn't mean we can't create one," he said.

"TOTALLY OVER THE TOP"

Julien Macdonald offered up his modern interpretation of glamour with a dazzling array of evening dresses in gold, silver, canary yellow and emerald green.

Longer gowns featured hand-sewn mirrors, chains and metal embellishments while sequined fringing embellished the minimal hemlines of shorter dresses.

"The dresses are totally over the top, they're glamorous - there are party dresses and cat suits. There's lots of knitwear made in super sophisticated sexy shapes, traditional lace with incredible embroidered techniques," Macdonald said.

Moschino Cheap And Chic and House of Holland were a hot ticket for London's pretty young things.

At Moschino, black-lipped models sashayed in alternate direction through a runway maze lined by masses of buyers, celebrities and admirers; showcasing monochrome stripes black trousers with punk inspired silver studding.

Black rockability style blazers and buttoned up shirts were softened by both pale and hot pink.

($1 = 0.6442 British pounds)

(Additional reporting by Li-mei Hoang, Alice Baghdjian; Editing by Stephen Powell)

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