Fashion: Back to cool

Airtex may be an unlikely choice for summer's most desirable designs, but it has come a long way since double games. Styling by Lizzy Shepherd. Photographs by Alex Cayley

It may be descended from your old school gym shirt, but it's summer's most elite trend. Labelled "utility chic" - a Nineties take on sportswear - it's surprisingly practical for designer fashion and brings glamour to such unlikely fabrics as Airtex. However, garments to run, walk or just lie around looking gorgeous in have never been so pricey.

The Prada Sport label is probably responsible for this season's re-emergence of designer sportswear on the international runways. After all, if La Prada says go skiing, we're all more than happy to flock to chic resorts and chuck ourselves down mountains in her designs - hang the expense or even the danger to our physical selves.

Fashion purists know that Jil Sander started it way back when, though, crafting apparently simple garments - loose-fitting trousers with drawstring or elasticated waists, skinny, feather-light T-shirts, zip-front jackets and hooded tops - in the world's most delicate, lightweight and technologically advanced fabrics. Susannah Frankel

Left Polyester net hooded top, pounds 450, by Jil Sander, from Browns, 23-27 South Molton Street, London W1, enquiries 0171-491 7833; cotton shorts, pounds 10, from French Connection, 249 Regent Street, London W1, 155 Grainger Street, Newcastle, enquiries 0171-399 7200. Below Nylon stretch mesh vest, pounds 14.99, by La Redoute, available mail order, enquiries 0500 777 777; linen trousers, pounds 30, from Top Shop, Oxford Street, London W1, 42 Briggate, Leeds, enquiries 0171-291 2706

Right Zip top, pounds 175, by Prada Sport, 16-18 Old Bond Street, London W1, enquiries 0171-647 5000; Airtex gym knickers, pounds 91, sold as part of a set with bikini top, by Joelynian, from Harrods, Knightsbridge, London, SW1, Square, 5 Shire Yard, Milsom Street, Bath, enquiries 0171-267 4770

Vest, pounds 10, from Marks & Spencer stores nationwide, enquiries 0171-935 4422; Airtex drawstring skirt, pounds 81, by Future Ozbek, from Harrods, as before, and Doyles, Church Street, Market Harborough, Leicester, enquiries 0171-408 0625

Hair Michael Desport for Smiths Salons using Goldwell Trendline

Make-up Rachel Howarth for Aveda

Model Cheryl Serwa at Take Two

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