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London Fashion Week gets soaked

LONDON--The catwalk was flooded on Saturday as bootmaker Hunter Original took its first steps at London Fashion Week for a spectacular show of stylish waterproofs — just the thing for the grim weather sweeping Britain.

Under the expert eyes of his wife Stella McCartney and U.S. Vogue editor Anna Wintour, Hunter's creative director Alasdhair Willis brought the “wellies” beloved of the royal family and Kate Moss to the fashion pack.

Splashing through the water on a black runway lined with bare trees, the models wore a variety of outerwear — ponchos, duffle coats and down jackets — in rubber, plastic and neoprene.

The unisex collection drew heavily on the greens and browns of traditional Hunter products, a reminder of the company's creation in Scotland almost 160 years ago and its history in equipping British soldiers in both world wars.

But there were modern shapes and explosions of color, from metallic, electric blue or bright yellow coats to a lime green handbag and bright red boots.

The timing of the show could not have been more appropriate as parts of Britain struggle with the wettest start to the year for 250 years, and entire villages are underwater.

The crisis has sent politicians of all parties out into the filthy floodwater to promise help — at least one, defense minister Philip Hammond, wearing Hunter wellies.

Hunter's famous rubber boots were displayed in varying heights at Saturday's show — tall, mid-calf and even high-heeled — and worn with bare legs and short trench coats, echoing the festival-chic look made famous by Moss.

In 2005, the model donned hotpants and a pair of Hunter wellies at Glastonbury, a practical defense against the variable English summer weather — and the height of cool.

At the other end of the style spectrum, Hunters are also the boots of choice of Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip, as well as countless farmers across the nation.

Such famous patrons did not stop the firm going into administration in 2006, a move it blamed on high fuel and manufacturing costs at its 96-year-old factory in Dumfries.

But Saturday's show, widely praised on social media, is a sign of how far the company has come since then.

It moved its production abroad, broadened its product base and now has ambitions to become a global brand, aiming to enter the Chinese market this year.

London Fashion Week continues on Sunday with shows by Paul Smith and Vivienne Westwood, Mary Katrantzou and Topshop Unique.

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 Bopping to the beat is a rare feat in animals 
Models wear designs created by Hunter Original during London Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2014, at Ambika Gallery in central London on Saturday, Feb. 15. (AP)

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