Mulberry sells wares off the runway

Britain's Mulberry looked to the garden parties of old to inspire its most modern fashion collection to date.

The brand on Friday launched a new format that allows shoppers to buy its wares straight off the catwalk instead of months later.

The label unveiled its latest designs, including dresses in floral prints recalling those on English tea sets, on the first full day of London Fashion Week.

Mulberry - best known for its handcrafted leather bags - is the latest fashion firm to experiment with a model dubbed "see now, buy now", making every item on show on Friday immediately available to clients.

Traditionally, collections are manufactured only after the runway displays, after feedback from department stores and fashion critics, landing in stores about six months later.

British peer Burberry was another early adopter of the revamped fashion calendar, while other rivals are still split over its merits.

"We are going more to the consumer," Mulberry chief executive Thierry Andretta said after the show, which ended on a musical note as singer Alison Goldfrapp appeared on the runway.

She belted out the hit Anymore, which has the fitting refrain "I can't wait anymore".

Models paraded in oversized hats recalling those worn at British racecourses, while the spring-summer collection featured linen suits and silk dresses with ruffled edges, a motif also present in the trimmings of some of the handbags.

Designs in multi-coloured stripes were inspired by the patterns of seaside deckchairs, according to the show notes.

Mulberry designer Johnny Coca said he was not troubled by having to nail down the looks months in advance of the runway display.

"In a way I was just doing a collection as always," he said.

"It is interesting just to see how you can change the rules to deliver the show." - REUTERS