London Fashion Week launches with painting masterclass

London Fashion Week kicked off on Friday with a colourful show by British duo Antoni and Alison, who marked their 25th year in style with a striking array of painted silk dresses.

With the emphasis on simple tailoring to show off their paintwork -- which ranged from graffiti to flowers and bold brushstrokes -- Antoni Burakowski and Alison Roberts presented a playful collection for spring/summer 2013.

Accompanied by a brass band, their models wore sober black and ecru at first, then a deeper palette of blue and violet, watercolour shades of pale pink and green, and bold citrus tones.

The pair sprayed oil and acrylic paint onto the silk to create an "abstract" look, Burakowski explained after the show.

"We didn't look at any other painters, we just made the marks ourselves," said the designer, who formed a label with Roberts in 1987 after the pair met at London's influential Central Saint Martins art school.

"We listened to music -- that's what inspired us," he told AFP.

The designer insists that London remains a vibrant fashion capital, despite its stubborn economic downturn.

"We started 25 years ago in a middle of a recession," he said.

"It's still a recession. But you know what? It's a good time to start and a good time to continue," he added. "It's a bit of a struggle, but that makes for good work."

In sharp contrast to Antoni and Alison's floaty frocks, Jean-Pierre Braganza offered a futuristic series of dresses and trouser-suits with strong geometric lines.

Sharp angles and asymetric designs gave an androgynous look to the new range by London-born Braganza, who grew up in Canada.

Slashes of cream added sleekness to swathes of black, while other designs used flashes of the blood red and electric blue so dear to Ukrainian artist Zinaida Likhachev, who worked with Braganza on this collection.

Some sixty catwalk shows are on the programme for London Fashion Week (LFW), which runs until Tuesday, along with thirty additional presentations.

Highlights are set to include Burberry and Mulberry, on Monday and Tuesday respectively, and Vivienne Westwood's presentation of her diffusion line Red Label on Sunday.

A show inspired by Disney's Minnie Mouse will also run on Saturday, with the one-off works by designers including Giles Deacon and Lulu Guiness auctionned off for charity on eBay.

The British fashion industry generates £21 billion ($34 billion, 26 million euros) every year and employs more than 80,000 people, according LFW's organisers, the British Fashion Council.

Some 5,000 buyers, journalists and photographers are expected to attend the shows, which organisers hope will bring in orders worth £100 million.

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