Fashion: Kaftanesque

THE KAFTAN - and its sawn-off sister worn with trousers - has come out from behind the heated hostess trolley. Designers to whom Demis Roussos is a hazy childhood memory are giving the Kaftan centre stage in their summer collections. So too are those old enough to join in with'When forever has gone'. The list includes Corinne Cobson, Karl Lagerfeld, Jil Sander, Ralph Lauren and Oscar de la Renta. All showed Kaftans for this spring. And Miss Selfridge and Jigsaw have high street versions.

The Kaftan entered our lives via the hippy trail circa the late 1960s. But unlike the fez or a pair of babouches, the Kaftan integrated. It leap-frogged straight into the solid middle class wardrobe. It mutated into drip-dry polyester versions for merry, mucky evenings with the fondu set. The kaftan was unisex, and it fitted all sizes. It was the shell suit of the seventies.

Prepare, then, to slip into something comfortable this spring. The new Kaftans can be opulent in garnet-red, rich velvet or laid back in high-performance paisley polyester. . .But beware: one trend has a habit of leading to another. Take this as early warning that it may soon be the time to get the pig skin pouffe - and the peacock cane chair - out of the shed.

(Photograph omitted)