Fashion: Notblack

Wear leather but make it supple, slinky and bright

Black leather is now such an old warhorse that it has ceased to have any of the naughty and rebellious connotations it once had. Instead, black leather now spells "a safe environment". After all, if you spend upwards of pounds 300 on a pair of jeans, you can at least be sure that you won't go off the colour after a week's wear. And that when you get them home, the rest of your wardrobe won't clash.

This season, however, designers - from the fiercely commercial Donna Karan in New York to the avant-garde Hussein Chalayan in London - have thrown caution to the wind and are offering us leather in any colour as long as it is not black. For those whose souls crave a bit of danger and excitement, forget James Dean, Marlon Brando and Diana Rigg as Emma Peel. What you need is a subtle blush to your cowhide jacket, a dress the colour of sunset, a pair of jeans in tomato red.

Because the raw material is so expensive, leather has always been reserved for classic items that don't date. But it's saved from the fate of being forever boring with clean, fresh shapes such as the shift dress (be sure the leather is soft and supple, or you will look as if you're wearing a cardboard cut-out) and the sleeveless, button-back shell top, a reincarnation of a Sixties favourite that is perfectly suited to leather. Women who would never even have sniffed at a Perfecto biker jacket will see leather in a whole new light this spring - one that is elegantly simple and brilliantly bright

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