ELLE (UK) - - Mood Board - KENYA HUNT Words by

Some­where along the line, glam­our lost its lus­tre. In fash­ion, it was once the goal, a deca­dent state of mind to aspire to: El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor, with her end­less emer­alds, hus­bands and range of per­fumes. Bianca Jag­ger dressed in off-the-shoul­der red on a white horse in Stu­dio 54. Princess Diana in be­jew­elled, body-hug­ging Ver­sace. Sarah Jes­sica Parker’s Car­rie Brad­shaw in her Vivi­enne Westwood wedding dress. Glam­our was once the ref­er­ence point women took to their hair­styl­ists in the salon and into the fit­ting rooms at de­part­ment stores.

Then, from about 2008 on­wards, the con­cept jumped off a cliff and into a pit of in­ter­net memes (try Googling ‘glam­our shots’), and camp TV hu­mour (we love you, RuPaul’s Drag Race). Glam­our be­came more en­ter­tain­ment than wardrobe in­spi­ra­tion — at least in know­ing fash­ion cir­cles.

When an ELLE col­league once told an­other, ‘You look glam­orous to­day,’ with a raised eye­brow dur­ing Lon­don Fash­ion Week, it sent the lat­ter into a mi­nor tail­spin. ‘Am I wear­ing too much make-up? Is my hair too big? I feel like you’re telling me I look un­cool,’ she replied. This was at the height of fash­ion’s Off Duty mo­ment last year, when we were all wear­ing track­suit bot­toms to the of­fice and DHL T-shirts to gallery open­ings. The last thing any­one wanted to look was glam­orous.

But this was be­fore 2017 hap­pened, the year that Mi­uc­cia Prada made it cool to wear os­trich feath­ers, An­thony Vac­carello made a solid case for glit­ter, and Demna Gvasalia re­minded us of the mer­its of a good old-fash­ioned bomb­shell of an evening gown at the au­tumn Prada, Saint Lau­rent and Ba­len­ci­aga shows re­spec­tively.

When I spoke to Alek Wek, who wore said gown back­stage, her eyes were glassy with ex­cite­ment. ‘It was an emo­tional ex­pe­ri­ence for me, wear­ing that gown. It was just that beau­ti­ful,’ she said of the look, a draw­drop­ping rein­ter­pre­ta­tion of an ar­chive piece, com­plete with a vo­lu­mi­nous, over­sized bow and pock­ets. The shift in the air was pal­pa­ble, as back­stage dressers helped the models out of their mas­sive gowns and care­fully packed them away like gi­ant works of art — and all this from Gvasalia, the man be­hind those Vete­ments DHL T-shirts that made ex­treme un­der­dress­ing so pop­u­lar in the first place.

He was hardly the only one to tap into the deca­dent, vel­vet-rope mo­ment. Bot­tega Veneta of­fered up moody, vaguely Hitch­cock­ian For­tiesin­spired dresses and gowns, while Dries Van Noten showed rich vel­vet dresses with faux-fur stoles. Alessan­dro Michele di­alled up his al­ready max­i­mal­ist use of crys­tals, se­quins and em­broi­dery on op­u­lent dresses, coats and tops at Gucci. And Dolce & Gab­bana piled on their trade­mark ‘Si­cil­iana’ with jack­ets, jeans and capes cov­ered in shim­mer, feath­ers, rosettes, bead­work, gold braid­ing, ap­pliqués – you name it. This is a sea­son in which faux furs are big, dec­o­ra­tive flour­ishes even big­ger, and Cé­line Dion is the fash­ion icon of our times. A sense of de­lib­er­a­tion is en­cour­aged. It’s no longer un­cool to look like you’ve made an ef­fort. In short, glam­our is back.

But why now? The an­swer is the same one that has been driv­ing the fash­ion con­ver­sa­tion for a while now: dis­rup­tion and the col­lec­tive de­sire to feel good in spite of it. Clothes that com­pel you to dress up and go out out cer­tainly fit the bill.

‘The world is quite a scary and in­tense place. And with times like these, I feel there is al­ways a sense of es­capism that comes into play,’ says Michael Halpern. The New Yorker and Cen­tral Saint Martins grad­u­ate be­came one of Lon­don Fash­ion Week’s bright­est new tal­ents in Fe­bru­ary, when he de­buted an un­apolo­get­i­cally glam line-up of dis­costyle dresses and flared jump­suits cov­ered in mul­ti­coloured se­quins that would have made Ziggy Star­dust proud. In his line’s short ex­is­tence, hugely in­flu­en­tial re­tail­ers, from Lon­don’s Matches Fash­ion and Browns to Bergdorf Good­man in New York, have picked him up. He’s al­ready a ris­ing per­former at the for­mer: ‘Michael Halpern’s ap­proach to glam­our is dif­fer­ent to ev­ery­thing else and feels very con­tem­po­rary and fun. A pair of his se­quin trousers will look in­cred­i­ble with train­ers and a T-shirt, or you can go all out with a dress or jump­suit. We’ve al­ready had an in­cred­i­ble re­ac­tion to his col­lec­tion, which is sell­ing very well,’ says Natalie King­ham, buy­ing di­rec­tor at Matches Fash­ion.

Op­u­lent glam­our as a whole prom­ises to be one of the big­gest ideas on the sales floor this au­tumn, with dra­matic robes, ki­monos and crys­talem­bel­lished satin heels emerg­ing as early re­tail hits, ac­cord­ing to King­ham. ‘I think more than ever, peo­ple need this sort of es­capism to­day. To go out and feel mag­nif­i­cent, con­fi­dent and bright is a way to nav­i­gate this type of cli­mate,’ Halpern says.

Fash­ion in­sid­ers and cus­tomers seem to agree. ‘Be­yond the clothes, glam­our is an at­ti­tude,’ says Lisa Aiken, fash­ion di­rec­tor of Net-a-Porter. ‘All the col­lec­tions that left an im­pres­sion on me for their take on glam­our

Satin-mix shoes, £45,


Polyester blazer, £39.99, H&M Faux shear­ling stole, £58, HE­LEN MOORE

Denim jeans, £110, LEVI’S

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