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What’s hot in the coolest city? Body-hugging, see-through fashion

February 28, 1997

LONDON (AP) _ So what’s going to be hot this fall in the streets and clubs of the city which has been dubbed the coolest, trendiest, hippest on Earth?

According to London’s top designers, the look is definitely body-hugging and preferably see-through _ with an asymmetrical accent. Slinky, sexy knits are in. So are layers.

There are lots of textured fabrics such as panne velvets and nubby tweeds. Fringing, embroidery and braiding are key accents. And the hot colors are black and browns, with some purples and greens.

``On the whole, you need a great body″ to wear the fall and winter collections, said Annette Worsley-Taylor, consultant to London Fashion Week, which this year is the first stop on the international fashion circuit.

With London making headlines as THE place to be, Fashion Week has attracted a record turnout of international buyers and media. But the big fashion news has not been the weird and wild street clothes that usually grab attention.

``There is a sophistication. There is a grownup-ness in London,″ Worsley-Taylor said. ``It’s time that everything need not be for the under 20s.″

That sophistication was on display Thursday night when Hussein Chalayan, one of Britain’s most promising young designers, showed a collection which was modern, innovative and beautifully tailored.

There were gasps and applause when a model came down the catwalk in a long, clinging burgundy jersey dress with tiny gold chains on the front and back which danced as she walked.

Chalayan, 26, did an array of beautifully decorated dresses, some with huge fans that picked up the pattern. He also showed modern sculptured-looking knits and wonderful long wool dresses with strategically placed sheer patterns that exposed legs, breasts, or midriffs.

There has been plenty of flesh on display during Fashion Week, which ends today.

Bella Freud, Amanda Wakely, Betty Jackson and Amaya Arzuaga did some see-through numbers. So did Thai designer Chamnan Phakdeesuk, whose models in Geisha-style wigs showed lots of skin, one in a dress which was bare from below the shoulders to the hips.

But Paul Frith showed so many see-through dresses on Thursday _ leaving nothing to the imagination except what was under the models’ red g-strings _ that most photographers got bored and stopped snapping.

An accomplished tailor, Frith opened the show with a seductive white slip dress with a flip skirt and a gold bra. He also did an attractive collection of clinging jersey knits in chocolate and red, some with asymmetrical skirts dipping to the floor.

Sonja Nuttall, returning to the catwalk this season, chose the garage ramp of Selfridge’s department store for her show, which also featured knit separates and asymmetric hems and necklines.

To reflect the setting, she opened the show with a collection of well-cut boiler suits, some with quilted loose trousers and quilted sleeves. But she moved to sheer metallic rose print chiffon evening dresses, one with an asymmetric skirt that brushed along the dirty garage floor.

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