Fashion: Very moorish

Styling by Jo Adams. Photographs by Noelle Hoeppe
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The Independent Culture
Welcome to the minimalist-free zone. This is a place for fashion hedonists - the kind of people who revel in the feel of luxurious fabrics, who indulge in rich mixes of colour, and who like to layer clothes one on top of the other for the sheer joy of being able to wear half the contents of their entire wardrobe at once.

Here are rich and luscious fabrics: heavy velvets, delicate devores, and fine brocades. These clothes invite serious dressing up (and serious dry cleaning, too). And that, after all, is what fashion is about.

For the past few seasons, sartorial hedonists have been largely ignored. Everything has been pared down, made severe and uniform. But things are loosening up. We are seeing a return to a more sensual attitude to dressing. Think early Seventies bohemia - think Anita Pallenberg in Performance. And think, too, of Diaghilev's Ballet Russes and the oriental decoration of Erte and Leonard Bakst's costumes of the early 1900s. Designers are looking - once again - to the near and far east with Moroccan djellabahs, Turkish kaftans, Indian paisleys, Chinese silks and jacquards, and Arabian swathes and tassles. The silhouette may be simple, but the decoration is elaborate.

In Paris, at the autumn/winter 96/7 collections, Rei Kawakubo, of Comme des Garcons, defined the mood. Her clothes might fasten simply with a single safety pin, but they act as a canvas for delicately crafted, flocked and devored velvets. Dries Van Noten showed layer upon layer of fine sari fabrics, Fifties chintzes, fruity coloured knitwear and North African kaftans to make their wearers look like exotic refugees. The collection is already selling fast.

In London, the decoration virus has been catching, too. Pearce Fionda included jet-encrusted taffeta trousers suits; Clements Ribeiro used delicate beading on chiffon as well as the wildest paisleys and Mongolian lamb trimmings; Alexander McQueen made theatre with his gold brocade dresses and distressed velvet trousers.

In the next 26 pages, you will see clashes of texture, fabric, pattern and colour. You will see baroque accessories - from the velvet and filigree evening bag by Emily Jo Gibbs to the gold and bejewelled belt by Chanel or the forest-green satin loafers by Gucci. There are even flowers for your hair, with silk orchids by Johnnie Loves Rosie. And all this dressing up needs a face and nails to match. Look no further than new make-up ranges with names like Hard Candy and Urban Decay. Darkly shadowed eyes and dramatic lips are vital when your finger nails are painted metallic blue or sludgy green.

For days when you want a little less drama and exoticism, there are coats to wrap up in. And, just for fun, we have thrown in the pick of the season's hats. Whether you lust after Hollywood leopard prints, orange fake fur, or a neat little Audrey Hepburn beret, there will be something to catch your eye. So happy autumn shopping. These are clothes for you to enjoy. Seize the moment and indulge.

Celime wears purple velvet devore dress, pounds 705, by SportMax from MaxMara, 32 Sloane St, London SW1; black velvet tunic with gold brocade panels, pounds 406, by Plein Sud, from Whistles 12, St Christophers Place, London W1, (further stockists, call 0171-730 9819); silk paisley man's smoking gown, pounds 750, from The Gallery of Antique Costume and Textiles `Textiles Treasures' collection, 2 Church St, London NW8, to order; hand-woven striped silk and cotton scarf, pounds 110, from a Marrakech market; antique gold earrings from Dary's, 362 Rue St Honore, Paris

This page Najat wears brown brocade shirt, pounds 241, by Plein Sud, from Whistles, as before; gold lace wide-legged trousers, pounds 234, by Pearce Fionda, from Harrods, Knightsbridge, London SW1; blue velvet scarf, pounds 182, by Fiona Pitkin (enquiries: 0171-221 8641); long lace dress, pounds 422, by Corinne Cobson, made to order, from Jones, Neal St London WC2; backdrop brocade textile provided by The Gallery of Antique Costume and Textiles, as before; opal earrings from a selection at Casoar, Paris, as before; antique ring of gilded silver with tourmaline stone from a selection at Dary's, 15 Rue Boissy D'Anglais, Paris

Opposite Murielle wears red jacquard coat, pounds 1,470, by Comme des Garcons, 59 Brook Street, London W1, and Pollyanna, 16 Market Hill, Barnsley, Yorkshire; green chiffon glitter dress (used as head-wrap), pounds 377, by Clements Ribeiro, from Tokio, 369 Brompton Rd, London SW1 and Pollyanna, as before; aubergine silk velour top, pounds 800 by Martine Sitbon, available from Liberty, as before; antique silver and turquoise earrings, available from a selection at Dary's, Paris, as before; jade and pearl earrings from a selection at Casoar, Paris as before; gold fabric from Boroviks Fabrics, 16 Berwick St, London W1

Fatima wears purple silk/velvet Turkish jacket with gold embroidery, pounds 595, from The Gallery of Antique Costume and Textiles, as before; burgundy heavily pleated silk tube skirt, pounds 595, by Charles and Patricia Lester and lime nylon dress, pounds 290, by Martine Sitbon, both from Liberty, as before; hand-woven multi-coloured cotton and silk striped shawl, from a Marrakech market; antique silver earrings with turquoise; antique carved silver bracelet and antique silver bracelet with jade, all from a selection at Dary's, Paris, as before; cerise pink lace backdrop, from Paris flea- market.

Cover Soraya wears: blue/gold Chinese brocade Jacket, pounds 385, by Paddy Campbell, from 8 Gees Court, St Christopher's Place, London W1 and The Look, 190 Ashley Rd, Hale, Cheshire, (also available in black and pink). Gold brocade princess coat (draped over arm), pounds 355, and matching trousers, pounds 150, by SportMax, from MaxMara, as before; burgundy narrow velvet scarf, pounds 145, from Liberty,as before; antique silver earrings with jade centre and antique gilded silver loops from a selection at Dary's, Paris, as before; fabric for backdrop provided by Boroviks Fabrics, as before Assistant stylist Jill Wanless

Make-up Nelson Sepulveda for Nina Ricci

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