Fashion: And here's one I made earlier

DIY was de rigueur at Milan fashion week with collections looking inspired by Blue Peter. Do try this at home: People want clothes that stand up as interesting and individual pieces

Do-it-yourself ready-to-wear. That was the message from the Milan catwalks last week. You just need scissors, knitting needles, a couple of balls of wool (cashmere if you can), embroidery silks and a little imagination, and your wardrobe for spring/summer 1999 is on its way... At times, the collections looked like the product of an ambitious episode of Blue Peter. All the arts, crafts, sewing techniques and DIY tips were there.

Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce were ahead of the game last season when they produced dresses that were painted with flowers, foliage and mimosa sprigs by hand. Take one plain dress and test your skill with a paintbrush. For next spring the craftsmanship was taken one step further. "We wanted to mix the old with the new," said Gabbana. For the new, the duo made use of a high-tech hologram fabric manufactured in Germany. For the old, the designers had a bright idea. "Cut up your old beaded and embroidered dresses and wear them as a cummerbund," instructed Gabbana. I don't know about you, but my cast-offs are tired and grey before they make it to the charity shop. But Dolce e Gabbana's cummerbunds look like precious antiques.

Something I have never quite mastered is the art of knitting anything more tricky than a doll's scarf. But if this summer's simple hand knits are an incentive, I will be merrily casting on and purling away before the crocus buds are forming. The new season's knits are designed to look home-made and a little imperfect. At Narciso Rodriguez, the American designer whose collection for Loewe, the Spanish luxury goods company, is shown in Paris this week, a new silhouette has emerged in just three seasons. A simple tube of fabric, to be layered like a bandeau top over a dress or top, is all you need. But why invest hundred of pounds in one of his - even if it is in luxurious cashmere? What could be simpler than to knit a length yourself and sew it up into a tube. Even the most basic of knitters, such as myself, could manage that.

For advanced knitters, take a look at Missoni's simple, graphic colour blocks and be inspired. After a renewed burst of interest in the stalwart label three seasons ago, Missoni could easily have slipped back into relative obscurity. However, guided by a new generation in the form of Angela - the daughter of the company's founders, Tai and Rosita - the collection looks simple, strong, wearable and thoroughly desirable. It is not trying too hard to be hip, evolving instead into a collection that is both modern and classic.

Another label that relies heavily on arts and crafts is Marni. The label has become a favourite secret of the cognoscenti. The clothes have a home- made feel, a touch hippy and home-spun. Edges and hems are often left frayed, and the clothes look as though they have been dyed with natural colours and vegetable stains. What people want right now is clothes that stand up on their own as interesting and individual pieces, and the Marni collection looks as far as can be from being mass-produced. Skirts are decorated with delicate turquoise and pink strips of home-made felt. Others are hand-painted with a circle of pink dye. A poncho is left with the edges raw, while strips of dressmaker's webbing are seemingly hand cross- stitched on to layers of fine muslin. The result is folky, gentle on the eye and flattering to the body. It promises to be one of the most influential collections of the season.

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that many of these collections are designed by women, but there is something soft and lyrical about the collections of both Missoni and Marni, as well as those of Alberta Ferretti, the Italian businesswoman and designer. For her more affordable Philosophy line, Ferretti takes reference from peasant costumes. Voluminous skirts and pin-tucked blouses give the collection a look of the Amish milkmaid. For her mainline collection, Ferretti's inspiration was - again - straight from the home dressmaker. Evening dresses are made of calico, like dressmaker's toiles, and, instead of the fancy beadwork that has become a trademark, surface decoration was cruder and more naive. A floral motif was drawn on to the calico and only half embroidered and beaded, leaving a garment looking permanently unfinished.

Donatella Versace also used pin tucks and dressmaking features for her third collection since the death of her brother. As though the house's signature chain-mail dresses were too hard and slick on their own, she added wisps of brightly coloured felted wool. She also attempted a bit of knitting with a bright yellow bustier and matching skirt, adding appliqued flowers and fuzzy felt.

Harder and altogether more disturbing than Versace was Prada. Miuccia Prada must be having some strange nightmares at the moment for there was something about the collection that left you feeling a little disconcerted and upset. A lederhosen-style rucksack was a clever idea, and the sportswear was modern and in tune with the times. But there were also paper-stiff tops and dresses that looked uncomfortable and restricting, as well as the week's most mind-boggling idea - shards of mirror stuck haphazardly on to delicate organza skirts.

Mirror work also appeared on the catwalk at Gucci, but this time more controlled - the sort of thing you expect to see made in India and hanging on a stall at Camden Market. This collection was wonderfully cheap and tacky - and thoroughly desirable - in a way that only Gucci could be. "I want those beaded shoes... every single pair," enthused one fashion editor after the show. "I have to have that sequined denim skin," gabbled another.

After not quite living up to expectations last season, Gucci's Tom Ford delivered a sensation of a show. The inspiration was Cher in the Seventies, hence the Bob Mackie-style showgirl cobweb dresses, the ethnic native American beaded jeans and the psychedelic floral-print peasant dresses. It was all gloriously anti taste, packed with colour and fun. Faded, worn- in jeans were given a new lease of life with feathers sewn on to the pockets and brightly coloured beads sewn around the cuffs and in patches on the back pockets. Hibiscus-printed bikinis were covered in plastic, like sheeting on a cheap hotel bed. And Indian mirror work reflected the spotlights back into the audience with the message "buy me, buy me".

Of course, if you can't wait until next spring and can't afford to pay Gucci prices, take heart. You can always pay a visit to John Lewis and do it yourself. Get stitching.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?