EastEnders Soho? So what. The hot hangout during London Fashion Week was way east of W1 in Brick Lane, where cool bars, coffee shops and clothes stores can now be counted among the curry houses for which it is famed. Most action is centred on the old Truman Brewery (91-95 Brick Lane, E1), a 17th-century, 4.5-hectare complex of buildings bubbling with boutiques, studios, galleries and design houses (Clements Ribero, Sonja Nuttall and Tristan Webber work and show there, as do avant-garde up-and-comers Arkadious and Boudicca). Add to that a number of celebrity sightings - Madonna regularly drops in on collaborator Talvin Singh - and there is a real scene-in-the-making ... one without the pretension, standardised shopping and fascistic door policies of its West End counterpart. A few highlights: Eat My Handbag Bitch (6 Dray Walk) does not, as its name may suggest, sell accessories. Instead, you'll find design collectibles from the 1950s to the '90s, from televisions and lights to chairs and ceramics. Roots (7 Dray Walk, inside the old Truman Brewery) showcases the fantastic furniture and jewellery (think: ponyskin, Plexiglas and leather) of designer Pauric Sweeney. You'll also find footwear and fashion from a number of new labels including Nishali Dassanayake, Julie Misztal and From Somewhere. Art meets fashion at One Gallery (3 Dray Walk), which represents recent graduates Fuad Khan, Sophia Shakur and Patrick Lee How. Like the titanic Atlantis Gallery inside the complex (the venue of choice for designers such as Hussein Chalayan and Clements Ribero), Gallery One also hosts a number of fashion-related exhibitions, from photography to fabrics. Junky Styling (12 Dray Walk, also in the old Truman Brewery) performs 'wardrobe surgery' on recycled fabrics, vintage clothing and fashion-victim follies. Simply take in ensembles previously banished to the back of the closet, stay for a fitting and wait for them be resurrected. Pit Stop Hip hotelier Ian Schrager has just added another home-away-from-home to his empire: St Martin's Lane in Covent Garden (45 St Martin's Lane, tel: (44) 171 300-5500). The 204-room hotel is Schrager's first outside the United States (where he oversees New York's fashionable Royalton and Paramount hotels, Miami Beach's Delano and Mondrian in Los Angeles) and his fifth collaboration with interiors superstar Philippe Starck. Beginning at a relatively low-rent ?125 (HK$969), with penthouse prices available on request, the rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows and coloured mood lights. Checking in also guarantees you will get onto the guest list of the hotel's booked-up bars (the Seabar and Light Bar), the brasserie (Saint M) and the restaurant (Asia de Cuba). Bribe the bouncer and you may also make it into a celebrity-studded soiree: jewellery designer and girl-about-town Jade Jagger threw a fashion week bash there that drew Mick, Helena Christensen, Kate Moss, Posh Spice and a bandana-sporting Becks. Show stoppers Tweedily traditional or eccentrically avant-garde, London designers know how to put on a show. Here's what a few are up to for Spring/Summer 2000: An award for individuality should go to Shelley Fox, who showed at the South Place Ethical Society under the banner 'To thine own self be true'. She did: Fox's Morse code-print paper dresses and buttery-soft leathers displayed the same circular shapes and cutting that have become her trademark. It's no wonder she won last year's prestigious Jerwood Prize for fashion design. Similarly cerebral designer Hussein Chalayan, a local favourite, also showed what he does best: strict, architectural outfits with razor-sharp cutting and innovative details. Whether his remote-control aeroplane dress will fly in the real world remains to be seen. Brazilian bad boy Alexandre Herchcovitch touched down in London with a collection that was part vampy Victorian, part geometric Japanese - and with not a bikini in sight. Robert Cary-Williams, an ex-soldier and Central St Martin's graduate, took the biscuit in two categories: firstly for the number of silly showpieces - the models looked a little self-conscious wearing full-length mirrors down the runway - and secondly for surprise supermodel appearances. Local girls Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss sashayed halfway through the show to great applause. The Spice Girls were front-row centre for Matthew Williamson's hot-ticket show, in which their former colleague Mel G made her runway debut in a sparkly, semi-sheer evening gown ... Scary, indeed. Fortunately, Williamson was on form with his eclectic mixture of ethnic influences, jewel-tone colours and signature sexiness. Last but not least, ultimate Englishman Paul Smith demonstrated he could come up with womenswear to rival his quirky-yet-classic men's line: pinstriped shirts and tailored pants were paired with embroidered sarongs and beautifully embellished accessories.