Fashion: Stay in neutral

Yes, grey is this autumn's key colour. Again. But don't worry, it could be a blessing in disguise. Styling by Adi and Ange. Photographs by Dietmar
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Indy Lifestyle Online
As you may have already noticed, the shops are full of clothes in shades of grey. There might be the odd splash of bright red, or even a hint of classic black, jostling for space along the rails - but I defy anyone this autumn to come away from a shopping spree without surrendering. You'll be hard-pressed to find much else to wear. As I look around the office, I spy a cosy grey cardigan behind me, a grey shirt over there (men are affected by the grey disease too) and, oh, is the coat draped over the back of my chair really grey too?

Thing is, grey is actually a practical - and flattering - colour. Like black and white, it is more of a statement than a colour. It could be argued that it is not so much boring as neutral. The problem is, fashion designers and retailers plumped for grey last winter too. And for all of us sad people who tend to continue wearing last winter's outfits too, we are facing something of a grey overload.

David Shah is the publishing guru behind View Point, Textile View and associate editor of View on Colour, the trade titles that predict what fabrics designers will be using for the next few seasons. "What is really important about grey is that it is an ongoing wardrobe basic," he says. "Obsolescence is a dirty word in fashion right now. `Continuity' and `wardrobe building' are the new buzz phrases." In other words, we should be grateful that last winter's wardrobe is interchangeable with this season's, because we can mix and match grey '97 with grey '98. It would seem that the fashion retailers are trying to make life easier for us for once.

Fabric manufacturers are already working on winter 2001 and, according to Shah, "grey is the colour of the millennium. It is already the strongest colour for winter 2000." There are, he assures me, a million greys to choose from. It's not all school uniforms. So just to give you a little peek into the future, expect luminous, lustrous, pearly greys, pastel greys (palest green, pink or lilac mixed with grey), and shades of grey you never even knew existed. Keep on building that wardrobe until summer 2000. That's when David Shah, looking into his crystal ball, sees juicy fruity colours - "fresh greens, energising oranges and yellows ... " And after that brief and vibrant interlude, it will be time again to fade to grey. Tamsin Blanchard