By Alice Baghdjian
LONDON, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Monochrome dresses inspired by Italian architecture and mirrored skyscrapers kicked off London Fashion Week on Friday as designers showcased elegant and minimalist creations for Autumn/Winter 2013.
British designer Zoe Jordan opened the London leg of the international fashion circuit with grey corseted dresses and flowing skirts, spiced up with splashes of bright amber and dashes of fur.
An architect by training, Jordan said Italian cathedrals and the urban skyline of Hong Kong inspired the sharp silhouettes and metallic finishes of her designs.
"Living amongst those metallic, mirrored skyscrapers all the time does definitely alter your vision a bit," Jordan, who recently returned from a trip to Hong Kong, told Reuters after the show.
"What we are trying to do is that nonchalant glamour, it's a very London thing, you know, the girl who doesn't try too hard," Jordan said of her collection.
One of the big four catwalk fixtures alongside Paris, New York and Milan, London Fashion Week is best known as a cradle for cutting edge talent and avant-garde trends.
The city blends up-and-coming names with veteran designers like Vivienne Westwood in a semi-annual burst of creativity to entice recession-weary consumers back into shops.
The direct value of the British fashion industry to the UK's $2.5 trillion economy is 21 billion pounds ($32.60 billion), the British Fashion Council (BFC) said.
"London really stands out as a fashion week because they are trying to help support younger designers and find emerging talent. It's not just about praising the big guys, they're looking for the next big thing," Jordan said.
London's art and design schools have been a treasure trove for fashion talent, producing designers such as John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and a raft of others.
Monochrome was echoed by the design duo Fyodor Golan (Fyodor Podgorny and Golan Frydman), who presented a collection of black, ivory and burnt pumpkin, adorned with baroque sketches or embellished with beads.
Skirts and dresses were subtly sexy keeping thighs and chests covered while showing off shoulders and the nape of the neck.
"For us it's all about sexuality - exploring, showing it but not in a perverse way - just going for it," Podgorny said of London Fashion Week.
Looking ahead, the spotlight will shine on American designer Tom Ford, who will be showcasing his womenswear on the catwalk for the first time in London, having previously limited viewings to select fashion insiders and editors of glossy magazines.
Singer Rihanna will add a touch of A-list glamour on Saturday with the launch of her first clothing line with British high street retailer River Island, one of the 56 catwalk shows taking place over the five-day event.
"London fashion is crazy because you've got new designers, you've got fashion, you've got parties...for me it's just about showcasing your talent really," said British actress Jaime Winstone from the front row of Jordan's show.
($1 = 0.6441 British pounds) (Additional reporting by Katharina Urban-Oberberg and Dasha Afanasieva, editing by Paul Casciato)