If you want outrageous trends, this season has plenty to offer - from saggy harem pants to jackets with shoulders so big that they can double as launch pads. But for those who are looking for something more, a growing number of fashion labels are thinking away from the mainstream. These designers don't pander to trends; instead, they focus on creating beautiful pieces that are thought-provoking, contemporary and wearable - and such designers are becoming more relevant, especially at a time when women are looking for clothes that are inspired and timeless. Although names such as Raf Simons at Jil Sander, Yohji Yamamoto and Alber Elbaz at Lanvin have been creating styles like this for years, lower-profile designers such as Sharon Wauchob, Roland Mouret and Boudicca are also carving a new niche for themselves. Their concepts are more avant garde, but their clothes aim to flatter and beautify women, not scare them off. Their pieces have an imaginative twist that takes them out of the ordinary, whether through an unusual cut, fabric or technique. Boudicca (named after the warrior queen of British folklore) is a little-known British label invited by the Chambre Syndicale to be part of the haute couture calendar, and which has a cult following thanks to its dramatic pieces. Founded by Zowie Broach and Brian Kirkby in 1997, the label operates in the highly conceptual corner of London fashion with sculpted tailoring (occasionally severe and forbidding), strong sensual lines, a couture-quality finish and an adult sensibility. Broach says many customers wear their pieces over and over again, although originally they hadn't set out to make timeless fashion. 'Each idea has its own properties,' she says. 'Idea one can, after many days [of] consideration, stress and trials, be something that stands alone, be individual.' Boudicca's work is assiduously researched and intensely personal. The designers look to society and political issues for inspiration, ranging from anti-capitalism to the series of emotions felt by an individual over 24 hours. A collection can begin with 'a conversation that generates ideas, a series of questions, sometimes an answer, or a journey to understand a language', says Broach. Inspiration for this season, titled Living in Time, began with research on 'warrior queens across time, future avatars as yet unbuilt and rhizomic detailing', says Broach. The outcome is beautifully produced black tailoring, soft rather than severe, with white shirts and dresses with softly gathered necklines and an intriguing array of sleeve shapes ranging from the traditional to the futuristic. While the concept of a collection is a philosophical exploration of ideas for Boudicca, for Roland Mouret it is a learning process and a journey from the last collection to the next one. 'When I start a collection I think about where I left the woman with the last one,' says the Frenchman. Mouret imposes much of his own thought on his work, each collection evolving smoothly but distinctly from the last. 'My work is full of detail and innovation, but it would never be in your face. It is subtle.' Details such as origami cutting and layering appear time and time again, although more innovative is the way he uses cut and material to control the silhouette, like the magic power mesh inner corsets used in the Galaxy dress. More importantly, he is obsessed with fit and spends hours working on a design that can look great on any woman from size eight to 16. Versatility is also paramount. 'Everything was about the cocktail dress, but that lifestyle has changed. Now it has evolved into a dress that can be multifunctional, that has several identities,' he says. Also part of this research is co-ordinating with his customers on a regular basis to ascertain their needs and desires. 'When I went to Hong Kong and Beijing I learned a lot about my customers and I have that in mind when I design a new collection. Women love it when men understand what they are wearing,' he says. Sharon Wauchob, a Paris-based Irish designer whose designs combine modernity with a sense of fragility, takes a similar approach, speaking to customers and trying on her designs. Wauchob also visits stores herself to get a feeling for how the collection works and what customers think. 'There has to be a 'realness' when I imagine the customer. She needs to be able to wear the piece in different ways, to personalise the garment. Although she knows what she wants in fashion terms, I like to give her a little surprise, a detail,' she says. Wauchob is fastidious about quality ('Innovation should be accompanied by luxury, it should not be a choice between the two,' she says) and that attention to detail is apparent in the texture and fluidity of her dresses. Laser-cut meshes and fringing layered over shimmering, subtly pleated dresses give her designs a bit of an edge, but there is also an appealing softness and sensuality about her work. Her ideas, like those of Mouret and Boudicca, are refreshingly modern at a time when so many others are looking to the past and chasing historical references. These modernist designers may not stand in the mainstream, but the intelligence and consideration that goes into their work is drawing a growing audience of women who want clothes that are innovative rather than extreme.