Fashion: Pick &Mix

The year 2000 was supposed to find us all donning silver spacesuits. Now that designers have unveiled the collections which will see us into the next millennium, the future seems less clear

OK, so it may finally be summer out there, but - cue more typically contrary news from the world of fashion - the autumn/winter collections are set to hit the stores any time now. And it's not just any old season either. If you're into matters millennial, you'd better sort that look out for what may turn out to be the century's biggest non-event. Still, even if the party is a disappointment, you, at least, can bask in the knowledge that you looked fantastically fashionable.

Despite the fact that space-age fashion may have been forecast as the order of the day, there was strangely not a dome dress to be seen at the season's collections, and very little futurism overall. It's not insignificant that Paco Rabanne, the man who - with Andre Courreges and Pierre Cardin - introduced the look to a bewildered then besotted audience way back in the Sixties, recently decided to hang up his haute couture hat: his autumn/winter 2000 couture collection was, sadly, his last. Instead, designers have taken a rather less obvious approach, sending out an eclectic mix of modern-day reinterpretations of the past five decades. The Seventies, in particular, loomed large (again) in a sea of folksy detail. Glam rock too got more than a look in, mightily trashed up by the likes of Dolce & Gabbana and Versace.

Where colour was concerned the world will be your rainbow - from sludge browns and greens to vivid orange and bright white. Skirt and trouser lengths and silhouette are also a matter of personal choice: pick those that best suit your body shape. Anything goes. Anything, that is, apart from traditional tailoring - it doesn't exist. Those who did send out suits were few and far between and all invested them with a thoroughly modern twist.

Captions: Get out those Seventies arts and crafts books and don't even care! The mighty Miuccia Prada says it with oak leaves - appliqued across skirts and duffle coats. Babes have never looked so chic in their woods. Sonja Nuttall travels a more bold and graphic route. For those with a yen to take up patchwork, meanwhile, get stitching now to finish before, well, before the year 3000 when it probably won't be fashionable any more. The designer alternative will no doubt end up being one of the most expensive, if utterly gorgeous trends of the season. It appears in brightly coloured leather at Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti; in rich shades of jade at Anthony Symonds and in all the colours of the rainbow at Comme des Garcons.

Clockwise from top left: Comme des Garcons, Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti, Anthony Symonds, Sonja Nuttall, Prada

Aeroplanes continue to be a very lovely concern of Hussein Chalayan's so he can hardly be accused of jumping on the turn-of-the-century bandwagon. Alexander McQueen at Givenchy, similarly, sent out space- age replicants to high gloss and even higher camp effect. As for the ever-influential Helmut Lang, back to the skies again with his very own designer neck support.

Clockwise from far left: Hussein Chalayan, Givenchy, Helmut Lang

D'ya wanna be in my gang, my gang, my gang? Glamour is the big new trend of the forthcoming season. At Versace, of course, it never really went away and Donatella piles it on this time round in spades. At Ungaro it comes straight from the - unusually well-heeled - Romany campsite in the form of flirtatious, ruffled sweet nothings accessorised with sky- high patent embroidered and beaded boots and necklaces made out of jewel- coloured feathers. As for Dolce & Gabbana ... jewel-encrusted cummerbunds (and everything else for that matter), Day-glo colours, high-shine fabrics and acres of loud and proud animal and floral print made for some of the most heady viewing of the season. Have those boys no shame?

Right, top to bottom: Emanuel Ungaro, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace

Leather is everywhere, demonstrating ever-more-complex cutting techniques and imaginative silhouettes. Despite virtuosity, though, the overall effect is a deceptively minimal one: draped at Ann Demeulemeester, severely pared down at Hussein Chalayan, butter-soft at Jasper Conran and bell-sleeved at Gucci - the latter a waiting list alert if ever there was one.

From far left: Ann Demeulemeester, Hussein Chalayan, Markus Lupfer, Gucci, Jasper Conran, Balenciaga

Och aye the noo! While tartan is one of the world's most traditional woven fabrics, for autumn/winter designers give it one almighty image overhaul. Cute and sassy at Antonio Berardi, fluffy and head-to-toe (including handbag) at Junya Watanabe and draped and wrapped at Comme des Garcons. As for the world-famous Burberry check - that last bastion of classic British clothing design - it's now safe in the hands of designer Roberto Menichetti, and has never looked so achingly fashionable.

Clockwise from top left: Junya Watanabe, Antonio Berardi, Burberry, Comme des Garcons

If you thought sequins were all about beastly bourgeois big nights out, think again. Wear them muted: Comme des Garcons even goes as far as to bleach the colour out of every single silver and gold disc. Stella McCartney's sequins for Chloe glisten across capelets, plunge-neck dresses and skirts while Emporio Armani sticks to a classic bustier for more minimally minded souls. Not much classic about Sportmax's sequinned rugby shirts though - wear these down the village boozer and just see what happens.

Clockwise from top left: Chloe, Emporio Armani, Comme des Garcons, Sportmax

It might not seem like a good idea at first and, it's true, wrapping yourself in layers of wadded fabric doesn't do much for the average waistline but, on an unusually practical note (this is fashion, after all), it does keep out the cold. The trick is to avoid padded top and bottom halves unless you have the build of a fashionable twig, in which case, it's got to be McQueen.

From far left: Ghost, Lawrence Steele, Ralph Lauren, Alexander McQueen

Clint Eastwood eat your heart out - because they just didn't make them like this in your heyday. Strange but true, the poncho is fast emerging as the glamorous cover-up of the season. Wear it ultra-modern with kangeroo pockets as at TSE New York, cable-knitted and cosy (Alexander McQueen), wrapped and folded (Kosuke Tsumura) and as big as a blanket (Michael Kors). Looking on the bright side, if anything can wipe out the pashmina ...

Clockwise from far left: TSE New York, Michael Kors, Alexander McQueen, Kosuke Tsumura, Marc Jacobs

You've been Tangoed! Yes, orange is the colour of the new millennium. While this might not exactly fill the hearts of the more monchromatically minded among us with glee, take solace in the fact that there are at least many different shades to choose from. Ralph Lauren's evening coat and dress makes for one of the loveliest treatments of the colour but are certainly not recommended for shrinking violets. Helmut Lang livens up the humble parka. Less virulent is the sculptural draping of Jerwood fashion prize winner Shelley Fox: the most vivid of all hues has never looked so gentle.

From far left: Shelley Fox, Helmut Lang, Ralph Lauren, Sonja Nuttall

The trusty trouser suit looks set to take a back seat this autumn, but where it was seen, the most classic treatment of the genre came courtesy of Yohji Yamamoto - which is saying something. It made for refreshingly chic and simple viewing. Elsewhere, Junya Watanabe showed off his cutting skills to the full with belle epoque walking suits - a triumph in neoprene; Owen Gaster was on typically sassy form and Paul Smith didn't disappoint with tailoring that looked as if it had been lifted from models' boyfriends' wardrobes.

Clockwise from top left: Ann Demeulemeester, Junya Watanabe, Yohji Yamamoto, Owen Gaster, Paul Smith

All shades of green from bright emerald and apple to muted olive and pale jade put in an appearance and very pretty and pastoral it all looked too. Mix one, two and even three together to most supremely fashionable effect.

From top right: Antonio Berardi, Lainey Keogh, Prada, MaxMara

If it isn't crocheted and doesn't look like it's been knitted in Brobdingnag it just won't cut the mustard. Knitwear takes on gargantuan proportions at John Galliano to dramatic effect. Andrew Groves came up with the nubbly, hand-knitted variety - just like your granny's, although rather more glamorous. Knitwear king Julien Macdonald, meanwhile, continues to push at the boundaries, and knitwear queen Betty Jackson wasn't the only one to trumpet the return of the big woolly scarf to fashionable wardrobes.

Clockwise from far left: Chloe, Betty Jackson, John Galliano, Andrew Groves, Julien Macdonald

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