HAS LONDON FASHION Week been knocked off the style atlas? This much-asked question has haunted trend followers for seasons since the demise of Cool Britannia, when Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Phillip Treacy and Hussein Chalayan had buyers and press flocking to the British capital. But now that they have gone - along with recent defectors Matthew Williamson, Luella Bartley and Roland Mouret - to the greener pastures of New York, Milan and Paris, London seems to have lost its bearings. However, while London's spring/summer 2004 schedule may look decidedly tame compared with other powerhouse capitals, the sense of unbridled imagination for which the city is renowned is still wafting thick in the air. And it isn't just the young designers, fresh from their degrees at Saint Martins, who are inhaling it as a number of the city's old guard adopt more contemporary silhouettes in their sketchbooks. What's London fashion without Sir Paul Smith? Having darted between London and Paris for quite some time, Smith has finally returned to his roots - geographically and aesthetically - for his spring/summer season. 'It's classic with a twist, classic but with something unexpected,' the designer explained before the show, which was held storeys above his home town at the Empress State Building. 'I'm visiting the original Paul Smith days, clashing stripes with patterns, colourful stitchings, side stripes, knee high socks with platform pumps and lots of colours.' Smith understands what's hot and what sells. His show - which has made showroom visits a virtual no-brainer for buyers - was organised into retail vignettes of essential daywear, weekend gear and evening frocks. Models stomped the whimsical, butterfly-paved runway in snug-fitted office-friendly cardigans, striped blue shirts, knee-length librarian skirts and open-toe platforms. For sunny weekends, Smith has come up with a relaxed variety of athletic side-striped harem trousers, tropical-coloured opt-art separates and spaghetti-strapped silk-printed dresses. There were a few Smithian surprises, such as a pristine, white feather coat. Pringle's show was a breath of fresh air - literally. The Scottish cashmere house, under the design direction of Stuart Stockwell, invited its guests to Holland Park for sensual silk dresses, preppy college pantsuits, retro tennis dresses and Park Avenue chiffon tea dresses. And there was the house's signature harlequin-printed cardigans and sweaters - to be worn with poolside briefs and sexy stilettos in summer. Husband-and-wife team Clements Ribeiro unveiled a collection that resembled the Cacherel label that the duo also designs for and included a variety of nautical striped sweaters with anchor motifs, gingham A-line skirts and floaty, multi-tiered Sunday dresses. Added to these were classic belted trenchcoats, quirky ribbon-trimmed tops and box-pleated girly skirts. Much of the week's attention shifted to tomorrow's movers and shakers, for whom, according to Smith, London has become a 'trampoline for talents'. First in line were designers Brian Kirkby and Zowie Broach from Boudicca, the avant-garde label that has been hailed as one of the season's most promising name brands. Their collection featured angular and architectural silhouettes that shared the dark and confident aesthetics of an early McQueen. Suits were cut with surgical precision and hip-hugging skirts came with an explosion of stiff, pleated bustles. Dramatic tailoring were the duo's forte and their attention to quality craftsmanship has indeed brought a welcoming breeze to the city's up-and-coming scene. Top Shop continued to support a selected handful of promising talents as recipients of the New Generation sponsorship and this season's lucky batch included Saint Martins graduates Bora Aksu, Jonathan Saunders and Jens Laugesen of Denmark. Aksu, who has just graduated from with a master's degree last year, pulled together a relaxed show at Il Bottaccio, in Grosvenor Place. Playing with the idea of contrasting proportions and complicated layering, the designer presented a beige-based palette of oversized cocoon-shaped jackets, mid-waisted, tapered leg trousers, deconstructed halterneck dresses and layered miniskirts that swayed sweetly to the models' every step. Scottish designer Jonathan Saunders served up a delicious concoction of body-hugging dresses and groovy kaftans for his second collection. His Pucci-esqsue liquid prints were morphed into original, geometric cubic patterns that shaped the body's silhouette in their most flattering manner this season. Minidresses were printed with corset details at the bodice and billowing chiffon kaftans gave way to the designer's penchant for psychedelic colours such as acid green, sorbet yellows, cobalt blue and futuristic lame bronze. Meanwhile, Laugesen unveiled an austere, conceptual collection of deconstructed vests, reconstructed cashmere cardigans, distressed jackets and strictly tailored bondage trousers that echo the underground spirit of early Martin Margiela and present-day Hussein Chalayan. Sophia Kokosalaki had editors nodding in approval of her full-on Grecian goddess collection that included delicately ruched chiffon tops, fluidly draped Grecian dresses, thigh-baring rolled-up shorts and micro-pleated dresses that bring to mind Issey Miyake's innovative crimped fabrics. The Kokosalaki palette is subdued, with sun-bleached terracotta coloured dresses, creamy oyster ruched chiffon tops, pale mint silk jersey skirts followed by foolproof black chiffon evening ensembles with a generous sprinkle of Swarovski crystals. Julien Macdonald, the self-professed 'vulgarian', revisited the 1980s with racks of skimpy, spangling dresses at the Saatchi Gallery that almost guarantee a woman that she'll never have to leave a bar alone. Naomi Campbell paraded a bikini set and snugly cut white jacket while Jacquetta Wheeler, Anouck Lepere and Elizabeth Jagger grooved to Beyonce Knowles' Crazy In Love in bejewelled cobweb dresses, fluorescent-hued spandex tight tops, and starburst-coloured kaftans. Then there were Macdonald's trademark jumpsuits so tight that they require Vaseline priming and miniskirts so short bikini waxes would be necessary. The crowd, B-List compared with past years, included ex-Spice Girl Emma Bunton, actress Mini Driver and socialite Tamara Beckwith, who later moved on to the fun part for many: the after-show party. 'Fashion's fun, it's frivolous, not rocket science,' said a fellow fashion writer, sipping on her Moet. 'You can dissect everything there is in the London fashion scene to death but at the end of the day, clothes are just clothes and fashion is all about the celebration of light-hearted decadence.' I'll drink to that.