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French designer Roland Mouret returned to the city where he made his name Sunday to celebrate 20 years in fashion, admitting he wanted to test himself against London's younger creative set. Known for his draping skills and for the "Galaxy" dress, which made him a favourite of A-list stars, Mouret has shown in Paris for the past ten years but was back in London for his autumn/winter 2017 collection.

"You come back to a place where the strength of this fashion week is that they're younger," the 55-year-old told reporters backstage after the show, staged in the lobby of the National Theatre. "What is my voice in the middle of a generation of designers who are ten years younger than me?"

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London is renowned as a hotbed of young fashion talent, in large part due to its world-class fashion colleges, with designers such as J.W. Anderson, Christopher Kane and Roksanda among those showing at fashion week. Mouret rose to the challenge by turning back to his first collection, reworking five original pieces, including a dress made from a square of flowered fabric.

"It was quite funny to redo some pieces that I didn't know how to make 20 years ago," he said. Mouret, the son of a butcher from Lourdes, has no formal fashion training and designs his clothes by folding and draping the fabric over models, rather than drawing them. He has a reputation for making sexy, sophisticated dresses with strong silhouettes, which at the same time do not constrain their wearer.

In London on Sunday there were Gothic-inspired dresses in black velvet, asymmetrical skirts, and tops draped at the back, or the side, or the waist, in colours ranging from mulberry to peacock green. Mouret said he imagined the clothes being worn by women leaving their lovers, going out to work, or to a political protest -- gorgeous, louche, but eminently wearable.

The same cannot be said for the sky-high heels, but he made no apologies for those, "because that's what I am". (AFP)