Fashion: Dress sense

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The Independent Culture
AS I write, the Spring/Summer 1999 Shows in Paris are drawing to a close. At this point, I should be able to share with you exactly what shape of trouser, what length of skirt and what shade of grey we will all be wearing next summer.

I have, after all, just squeezed my way into, and sat through, an average of eight shows a day for the past five days in the chocolate box of Europe; not to mention six days in Milan and five days in London. Unfortunately, the only secret I can let you in on is that it's not all it's cracked up to be; and some of the designers have some very funny ideas. But then you knew that already.

So far today, I have seen some sexy lingerie barely concealing some very pert bum cheeks; and a man in a leopard print suit (I think it was by Gaultier, and he wasn't on a catwalk). There was a fabulous Grecian draped dress in sheer chiffon by Yves Saint Laurent; it was modelled by Astrid who has the body of a prime greyhound. There was also a teensy weensy black wet-look sequinned one-piece swimsuit, which looked like a bikini, by Alexander McQueen for Givenchy. And three designers working magic at Issey Miyake, where the garments were cut out of a roll of fabric live on the catwalk and then brought to life before our very eyes. Last, but not least, I spied a teenage Ivanka Trump, looking like a drag queen, on the runway at Thierry Mugler.

Of course, it is ill advised to think too hard about fashion. It's only frocks, after all, and you can either take them or leave them. Nobody will force you into wearing the Givenchy bikini (much as you might quite fancy the body that goes with it).

But if it does happen to fly your flag, and if you can really afford to fork out a three-figure sum on a piece of swimwear that should never in a million years go near water, that bikini might make you a very happy woman. And in the end, that is what it's all about.

Clothes and fashion provide pleasure and entertainment. They are a luxury to be enjoyed. The great thing about the collections I have had the privilege of seeing in the flesh is that they make absolutely no sense whatsoever. But at times - Thierry Mugler's disco-dancing camp extravaganza comes to mind - these collections have made me smile uncontrollably. They have made me want to dance. And that's what fashion is all about.