Burn the black dress

The sunny weather has blown a hole in the dark of win­ter, so it’s time to fol­low suit with a splash of colour in our wardrobe. And this sea­son, more re­ally does mean more. DEIRDRE McQUIL­LAN, Fash­ion Ed­i­tor re­ports

Fashion Magazine - - Index -

It’s June! Time to look on the brighter side when it comes to sum­mer fash­ion and the hol­i­days. Colour is the story of the sea­son, a trend that seems set to con­tinue right through to the au­tumn, judg­ing from the re­cent cat­walk shows in Lon­don, Paris and New York.

It broke out spon­ta­neously in our sum­mery spring a few weeks back and sud­denly made black out of sync with the sunny mood that livened up city streets – mak­ing macs and um­brel­las re­dun­dant for the first time in years. It was no co­in­ci­dence that Matthew Wil­liamson, that prince of colour, was the star of Dublin Fash­ion Week.

There will al­ways be the re­as­sur­ance, the hard edge, the flat­tery and se­ri­ous­ness of black, but there comes a time in ev­ery style-con­scious wo­man’s life when she opens the wardrobe, looks at a packed rail of clothes and knows she has noth­ing to wear and black isn’t the an­swer. It’s some­thing men just don’t un­der­stand.

She may look at a great lit­tle black dress that she’s worn count­less times on count­less oc­ca­sions, but sud­denly she’s tired of it and needs to leave it on hold and think about some­thing new. This is when adding colour to your life car­ries a dou­ble mean­ing.

No­body does colour bet­ter than John Gal­liano at Dior and his show was the show of the sea­son – out­stand­ing for its sen­sa­tional colour sat­u­ra­tion.

Not ev­ery wo­man wants to wear a shock­ing pink dress with fly­ing pan­els, match­ing fur and a coolie hat, but the ef­fect was ex­tra­or­di­nary and if it only served to en­cour­age us to think about a skirt in a vivid colour or a suit with a bold 1940s edge, the show had cast its glam­orous spell. Ripoffs are al­ready on the move.

Some bright colours can over­whelm and need a steady hand. Take yel­low, for ex­am­ple, a dan­ger area best left to life-jack­ets, al­though its tones can cast a flat­ter­ing light on tanned flesh and yel­low pa­tent san­dals make great flash­points to a sum­mer out­fit.

Metallics are an­other op­tion: verdi­gris bronzes, steely bro­cades, sil­vered tweeds or gold-flecked linens add mod­ern lus­tre to fab­rics and ac­ces­sories.

I’ve seen sil­ver and gold quilted bags un­adorned with hard­ware that don’t make loud sar­to­rial or brand state­ments but lift a sum­mer city out­fit. A metal­lic trench or chic parka can look ap­peal­ing with pale cash­mere sweaters, and are also great for trav­el­ling.

Travel broad­ens our colour spec­trum. If you’re one of those who draw the line at flu­o­res­cents and neon (try the new Per­spex ac­ces­sories in­stead), an al­ter­na­tive route into colour is through prints and pat­tern.

Re­cently, four ma­jor fash­ion shows – from high street to haute cou­ture – took place in Dublin over the space of one week. What they all had in com­mon was flam­boy­ant print and dec­o­ra­tion. Louise Kennedy’s hand-em­broi­dered In­dian bead­ing is be­com­ing more re­fined and el­e­gant each sea­son, as her colours get hot­ter and pro­gres­sively sari-like; while Jen Kelly opted for ex­otic south sea is­land prints for his slim silk dresses. A-Wear’s show was a melange of colour and pat­tern, zany stripes and border print dresses, com­ple­mented by bags of sim­i­lar ex­u­ber­ance.

John Rocha stands alone in avoid­ing colour and print, but his creamy silks are rich in hand­worked dé­cor. AN­I­MAL PRINTS – LEOP­ARD AND ZE­BRA in par­tic­u­lar – seem to have a vis­ceral hold on fash­ion, and this sea­son is no ex­cep­tion. A lit­tle chif­fon leop­ard print shirt or tu­nic is enough to sharpen up black trousers; and the ef­fect is to­tally dif­fer­ent with white jeans.

It’s the same with ze­bra print; try it on shoes or with a bag for a graphic state­ment. A leop­ard­skin print mac or trench coat will make you stand out in a crowd any­where, par­tic­u­larly if sported with dark sun­glasses. There’s even lug­gage in ze­bra print by Jasper Con­ran at Deben­hams.

Much has been made about the trend for the long sum­mer dress, mainly due to celebrity en­dorse­ment, but it hasn’t hit the streets yet with any force.

The long printed kaf­tan shouts hol­i­days and makes a stylish cover up, but it’s hardly the num­ber you’re wear­ing on the school run or to the of­fice.

Trapeze and wrap dresses tend to flat­ter the flat-chested, and mini-skirts and shorts flat­ter those with long legs, but tu­nics en­hance the most awk­ward shapes, a gift to most women whether worn over jeans or with leg­gings. And if you have to stick to black, try mix­ing a lit­tle swing jacket with a black and white print dress.

Fash­ion edi­tors get bom­barded with dic­ta­to­rial pro­nounce­ments about trends: what’s hot, what’s cold, but pre­dic­tions can be dan­ger­ous. One de­signer, for ex­am­ple, will con­fide that he or she can’t sell suits while an­other says they’re all the clients want. What’s im­por­tant in the long run isn’t a trend, it’s wear­ing what suits you best; know­ing what does and do­ing it with con­fi­dence is hav­ing style.

This sum­mer make it a colour­ing sea­son, but brighten up the out­look your own way.

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