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London Fashion Week Day 2: Celebs flock to Hunter debut, Macdonald show

LONDON - Celebrities, starlets and fashion's elite packed the front row at London Fashion Week on Saturday, as the style event swung into its second day.

London's weather cleared up to everyone's relief, though at least two shows made the wet outdoors their theme. Hunter, the maker of the fashionable set's preferred rubber rain boots, pulled out all the stops with an impressively staged debut show that drew singer Jessie J, Anna Wintour and Stella McCartney to its front row. Across town, "Les Miserables" actress Samantha Barks joined singer Eliza Doolittle and other starlets at Julien Macdonald's glamorous showcase.

Here are the highlights from Saturday:

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HUNTER MAKES A SPLASH WITH DEBUT SHOW

Watch out: The humble rubber rain boot has arrived with a big splash at the London fashion scene.

Hunter, best known for those sturdy, no-nonsense wellies seen on trendy young attendees of music festivals like Glastonbury, debuted its clothing range in a basement space set up to look like a dark forest, complete with a watery runway and realistic looking birth trees.

Models — both male and female — splashed down the catwalk in colorful raincoats and capes, shorts and miniskirts, belted trench coats and puffy winter jackets. Everyone, of course, sported Hunter boots that came in a range of colours and styles, including a heeled ankle-length version.

Hunter had drummed up considerable publicity for the event, and its front row VIPS included Vogue editor Anna Wintour, singer Jessie J, as well as designer Stella McCartney. McCartney's husband, Alasdhair Willis, was creative director of the show.

Just to make sure it leaves an impression on guests, the brand closed with a little magic performance and a shower of playing cards. It was a cool touch, and entertaining to boot.

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ORLA KIELY SHOW RAINS CATS AND DOGS

The wet weather at London Fashion Week may be driving fashionistas crazy, but Orla Kiely is here to remind us that a little indoor rain effect can be cute and romantic. Especially when it comes with a few cats and dogs.

The Dublin-born designer, best known for her popular 60s-ish prints of leaves and vines, ditched a traditional runway and went for a square show space set up to look like a corner in the park for her Saturday show at London Fashion Week.

That set the scene for a show inspired by "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg," the classic musical and movie starring Catherine Deneuve. Models wearing sweet polka dot dresses, retro floral print tunics, preppy trouser suits and clunky mary-jane shoes wandered dreamily around as if in a living storybook, at times looking up at imagination rainclouds in the distance or daydreaming on the bench.

Clear plastic umbrellas came out as the soundtrack and light effects simulated a rainstorm, interspersed whimsically with meows and barks. It was irresistibly fun, and the pet animal theme continued on printed sweaters and little cat and dog clutch bags. One model even hugged a sleepy black pooch.

The show wrapped up as models paraded in shiny PVC printed trench coats to a closing song. What else? "Singin' in the Rain," of course.

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RUFFLES AND ROMANCE AT JOHN ROCHA

As romantic destinations go, Iceland probably ranks pretty low down most lists.

But John Rocha - one of London's most romantic designers - said his experiences of the North Atlantic island nation's ever-changing light and natural wonders were the inspiration behind his latest womenswear collection, shown Saturday on Day 2 of the style extravaganza.

"There's a certain part of the year when it's all dark, and then it's all bright. I love the transition and all the different textures there," he said after the show.

Rocha opened his showcase with a series of all-black outfits adorned with huge billowing clouds of ruffles, both worn as sculptural hats and as collars. The collection had many of Rocha's trademarks: oversized ruffle flowers, voluminous layers of light chiffon and tulle, and lace or crochet fabrics so intricate they are more works of art than wardrobe items.

Classic red and dark forest greens injected some colour, and patent leather shoes with chunky heels balanced the femininity of the fabrics.

Not everything was dark and dramatic. A few of the see-through black organza ballgowns were embroidered with a sprinkling with colorful 3D flowers, as if the model had just rolled around in a flower bed and the petals had stuck to her dress.

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Follow Sylvia Hui at http://www.Twitter.com/sylviahui

The Canadian Press


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