calling all latin lovers ...

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Latin Fever is coursing through the nation's veins, writes Cayte Williams. No sooner had the Flamenco dancer Joaquin Cortes stomped and scowled his way back to Spain when Tango Por Dos, an Argentine Tango outfit, arrived in the West End (see The Critics, page 13). Tomorrow, the Spanish menswear label Armand Basi will be launched in London and, as if that wasn't enough, the long-awaited Evita, starring the latin aficionado Madonna and the ultimate latin lover, Antonio Banderas, opens in December.

Tapas bars and salsa nights first sashayed on to the high street in the early 1990s. Since then, the British tequila market has grown by 25 per cent every year and flamenco and tango classes are full to capacity. Liz Hurley and Nicole Kidman now flaunt their flamenco-inspired Galliano flounces at every photo-opportunity and British Fashion Week groaned under the weight of frilly chiffon from Clements Ribeiro, John Rocha and Ghost.

"The latin look is sensual and exotic," explains Samantha Murray Greenway, fashion writer on Vogue. "We've had so much tough minimalism - women want to be sexy again. Look at Madonna - she's never looked better than as Eva Peron." And for every Evita there's a Valentino. "The latin lover is back," says Juste de Nin, the designer behind Armand Basi. "He's not the cheesy 1950s version, but is inspired by the dark looks of Al Pacino, Andy Garcia and Banderas. Agentina and Spain are, simply, the hotbeds of style."

By Summer 1997 we'll be in the thick of a latin heatwave, with or without a hot summer. It's time to get the latin essentials: a bottle of tequila, castanets, and a latin lover.

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