Mod Brits in the street like the Yankee look

October 23, 1991|By Pat Morgan | Pat Morgan,Knight-Ridder Newspapers

LONDON -- Even though British designers have created some of the most wearable clothes of the spring 1992 season, the soul of London's style is in the streets.

Even fashion trend-setters as notable as French iconoclast Jean Paul Gaultier have admitted that, when they need inspiration, they head for the streets of London.

If he were here this week, Gaultier would have seen the Americanization of London street style. Faded blue jeans are part of the street uniform on Brits of all ages. Baseball caps featuring the logos of American sports teams also remain popular.

Which is not to say things have become boring.

Along King's Road and in Soho, where the die-hard trendoids hang out, the young women are fond of cut-off blue jeans (often very short) worn with opaque black tights and heavy work boots. On alternate days, they're likely to wear bright, patterned tights (anything but Pucci prints).

The young men favor black leather, often from head to toe and often studded with silver, indicating that punk style still isn't dead even after a decade.

Even at the designer level, London prefers its rebel-chic image.

At the British Fashion Awards, Vivienne Westwood perhaps the country's most streetwise designer became the first repeat recipient of the Designer of the Year award. Westwood, who also is credited with creating the high-fashion version of the punk look, won the award last year, too.

This year, Westwood was up against decidedly more commercial competition, including Princess Diana's old chum Arabella Pollen, and Paul Smith, the first menswear nominee.

The Innovative Designer Award, created to recognize emerging talent, went to Bella Freud, a former Westwood assistant and yes, the great-granddaughter of Sigmund.

Americans and Europeans may wait with anticipation to see what supermodel Linda Evangelista will do to her hair next; in England, that kind of attention goes to model Yasmin Le Bon, wife of rock star Simon Le Bon, who has dyed her naturally golden-brown hair jet black.

The look is a little harsh, but otherwise, the model appears quite fit, if slightly hippier than her runway counterparts.

This is to be expected, of course, given that Yasmin is marking her return to modeling less than three weeks after the birth of her second child just in case you weren't already feeling inadequate enough today.

Other models and the designers of the Ghost collection take the prize for innovative mannequin idea, not to mention versatile clothing. They showed one group of the line's signature loose, drapey, elastic-waistbanded clothing on pregnant women, at least two of whom looked as though they could deliver at any moment.

And finally, word on the other happening in London this week:

Running parallel to the fashion shows have been the performances at Royal Albert Hall of Japanese sumo wrestlers, who are touring for the first time in the 1,500-year history of the sport.

The sumos literally translated, it means "fat power" bring with them their special chanko nabe stew of sweet broth, beef, pork, chicken, fish, bean curd and vegetables. They consume about 7,000 calories per day to maintain their heft.

The average sumo wrestling champion weighs about 300 pounds, or roughly three times the weight of the average successful runway model.

Thank goodness for kimonos.

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