1. CHRISTOPHER KANE, 25
Why he’s good: He has demonstrated versatility by sending out dresses in styles that range from clingy, Herve Leger–like bondage straps to ruffles and reptile prints.
Important pieces: Faded, shredded denim (it’s back) with python-printed chiffon blouses.
Pedigree: Kane hadn’t even graduated yet from Central Saint Martins (where everyone on this page studied) when Donatella Versace asked him to consult in 2006. Career-catapulting publicity followed.
Tidbit: The Scottish designer carried on—to great reviews—even though 23 pieces were stolen from his spring 2008 collection just before the show.
2. MARIOS SCHWAB, 30
Why he’s good: The quiet, unassuming Brit is body-obsessed, using surgeonlike precision to cut his figure-hugging dresses.
Important piece: He dares to turn a pretty, slim floral day dress into something darker with peel-back layers that reveal a magnified viscera print beneath.
Pedigree: Born in Greece, he spent his high school years in Austria before heading off to London to study fashion.
Tidbit: Not that he’s necessarily kicking himself over the decision, but Schwab once turned down a job at the all-wonderful Lanvin.
3. GILES DEACON, 37
Why he’s good: London’s biggest young star right now, he had editors raving over his little black dress in the spring 2007 collection that was trimmed with metal S&M spikes.
Important pieces: Full-skirted, slightly retro dress printed with bloody deer; a classic purple prom dress with a cotton candy–like tulle swaddle under the skirt.
Pedigree: After graduating, he worked at Bottega Veneta and Gucci before going solo.
Tidbit: Designed the cover of his former girlfriend Beth Orton’s 2003 Other Side of Daybreak album.
4. JONATHAN SAUNDERS, 29
Why he’s good: Not overly arty like his British peers, Saunders toys with sleek, minimal, and graphic lines. No flowers and frippery.
Important pieces: His long, lean gowns accented with random blocks of black, white, and color.
Pedigree: While still an undergrad, Saunders created now seminal bird-of-paradise prints for Alexander McQueen’s spring 2003 show.
Tidbit: The Glasgow native (and son of Jehovah’s Witnesses) is relocating to New York next season to get more exposure.
5. FIONA SINHA, 28, AND ALEKSANDAR STANIC, 28
Why they’re good: While other Londoners do punk and theatrical kookiness, Brit-born Sinha and Croat Stanic prefer tailored femininity.
Important pieces: Six gorgeous bright blue looks, including two sack dresses, stiff jackets, and a puffed skirt.
Pedigree: They met at school and have been together design-wise and romantically since.
Tidbit: After their first show in 2004, megabacker Aeffe signed them up and, some say, pushed them to a tough-girl aesthetic, which didn’t gel. By spring 2008, they had dropped Aeffe and returned successfully to their own prettier ground.