LONDON (AP) -- London Fashion Week got off to a gala start Friday morning, with champagne corks popping despite warnings that events would be toned down to reflect economic realities.
The first bottles of Moet & Chandon were opened before 10 a.m., although there were far fewer in evidence than there were last fall, when most guests received a complimentary glass of bubbly when they first walked in.
Otherwise, little had changed as the elegant guests thronged into Paul Costelloe's show, guided by dozens of fashionably dressed young women working for the British Fashion Council. All of them were clad almost entirely in black, although a few nonconformists tried gray tights or burgundy colored boots.
Harold Tillman, chairman of the British Fashion Council, announced as he welcomed guests that the Fashion Week shows would be moved to Somerset House, a landmark building near the River Thames, starting in September, marking the end of a long association with the Museum of Natural History.
"We plan to take London Fashion Week into a completely new era in its 25th year," Tillman said. "Our aim is to create a legacy for British designers."
There were no obvious signs of cutbacks as exhibition booths were filled to overflowing with specialty items and preparations rooms were crammed with models having their hair, nails and makeup tended by teams of professionals.
Costelloe, a longtime favorite who has been showing at London Fashion Week for more than two decades, easily filled the catwalk tent. The coveted front row was filled by a number of glamorous well-wishers, including Erin O'Connor, one of Britain's most popular models.
His show harkened back to the "Park Avenue perfection" of well-to-do New Yorkers during the 1960s and 1970s. It was far more Jackie Kennedy than Summer of Love.
He used mohair, crepe, tweed and organza to recreate a lost world of Manhattan elegance, with period details like exposed zippers, high collars, hooped hems and exposed panels used as well. Colors ranged from emerald, grape and terracotta to shimmery silver and gold.
Most of the models wore distinctive high-heeled ankle boots as well.
Costelloe's kickoff show was set to be followed with five days of events, including catwalk shows by fashion icons Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith, Luella Bartley, Nicole Farhi and others.
London Fashion Week has traditionally provided an opportunity for lesser known designers as well, and has served as a springboard for major designers like John Galliano and Stella McCartney.
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