The show

March 5, 1999

Cutting it in the fashion world

The catwalk is dead" should perhaps have been the title for this year's showcase of student fashion designs at London Fashion Week.

As the rest of the industry continued to shriek "long live thecatwalk", up-and-coming talent from Central St Martin's college of art and design MA fashion course staged a requiem for the glitzy domain of the supermodel.

Banks of photographers perched at the foot of an illuminated catwalk seemed to freeze with fingers poised as the show opened in silence, and the ghost-like pure white creations of student Ting Peng drifted towards them.

That set the tone for an expectant audience of about 600students, journalists, talent-spotters, course leaders and parents - who got the antithesis of Alexander McQueen's "Zhivago onice" extravaganza earlier in the week.

White and black designs with a surgical look about them predominated, with arms strait-jacketed into sleeveless garments. Where sleeves did appear they were joined to the waist or stretched downto the models' knees.

Ripped, shredded, safety-pinned and scrunched creations emphasised the institutionalised theme, and even some of thejewellery brought to mind hospital instruments. Occasional splashes of colour conjured circus images with polka dots and stripes.

Adam Entwisle, one of the student designers, acknowledged the subdued nature of the show and explained what he thought had inspired it.

"I think the catwalk is obsolete. There is a feeling that it does not relate to how people today have a better dress sense and do not need to be toldwhat to wear or how to wear it. Fashion shows are too much like adictatorship."

Nevertheless his fellow designer Mark Warburtonfelt the MA show was still a key event in students' careers. "It costs so much to put on a show that we will never get this sort of chance again until we can get sponsors."

London Fashion Week's vital statisticsalso bear witness to the continuing popularity of the fashion show. This year it attracted 1,000 buyers and 800 members of the press - three times more than when it started in 1994. The number of shows has grown from 15 to 40(Central St Martin's is the only student show), bringing in sponsorship worth Pounds 340,000. If the catwalk is dead, its spirit lives on.

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