Sparkles and pink cowboy hats at Aggugini's show

GREGORY KATZ Associated Press Published:

LONDON (AP) -- Designer Kinder Aggugini said before the show that he was looking for sparkle.

He said it twice -- as makeup artists applied thick gold glitter lipstick on the models -- then produced it on the runway of his London Fashion Week show.

It was more than just the sparkly makeup. It was the way Aggugini managed to bring a bit of El Paso to London's venerable Somerset House, developing a cowboy motif throughout the show. Delicate silk prints showed cactuses and cowboys on stallions, and some models were given feminine, pink versions of the 10-gallon hat, a whimsical touch that brought smiles to the crowd.

Aggugini, a London favorite, said he was trying to mix Dolly Parton with Jay-Z. It seemed to work, despite the odds.

The standouts of the show were sexy cocktail dresses, an Aggugini trademark, that used gold and black motifs set off by sheer sides. Some full length numbers pushed the boundaries with completely sheer fronts.

Many of the fabrics were treated with acid, producing a soft, delicate feel that made the clothes seem fragile and shimmery.

There were also a series of structured minidresses, and some outfits mixing hot pants with silk tops. Instead of the traditional stiletto heels, most models wore clunky black loafers with metallic tassels, offering another original touch.

"I'm trying to take color and fabrics and silhouettes and make them my own," said Aggugini, who trained with some of London's biggest designers before launching his own label. "I'm looking for sparkle, sparkle. I love the sparkle."

He said many upcoming London fashion designers are struggling because of the prolonged economic downturn, but are still turning out quality work.

"Things are difficult business-wise," he said. "But it has sparked creativity. I see a lot more talent germinating. I see a lot more newness than I ever did."

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London Fashion Week: http://www.londonfashionweek.co.uk/