Just when news of the economy couldn't get any bleaker or the February skies any greyer, fashion is awash with a colour clash more vivid than we've dared sport in years. The message is clear: we all need cheering up a bit – so if you wear anything this spring, make sure it's startling pink, fiery orange, or preferably both at the same time.

Sounds a little extreme, but Chloé, Prada, Matthew Williamson, Luella, Pollini, Sinha-Stanic and Lanvin, which flooded their catwalks with the stuff, can't all be wrong. "This colour mix is a great mood enhancer," says Richard Nicoll, whose spring collection is also awash with colour, "It spells sex, attracts attention, and radiates optimism and confidence."

Which is all very well, but it takes a brave soul to pull this look off, as it's easy to get very wrong. If the pink is too pale, you're in danger of looking like an eight-year-old. Get the orange too bright, and you'll look like you're kitted out in high-visibility safety wear.

Done, right however, it can really set the red carpet aglow. Cameron Diaz in candy-pink Chanel and Eva Longoria in a flaming strapless gown by the Lebanese designer Reem Acra both added a much-needed pigment overload to the Golden Globes last month, although it must also be said that neither dared to wear both colours at the same time.

Gwyneth Paltrow and Daisy Lowe have also recently been seen in blazing orangey-red (a colour now known as tomato, apparently). It's not a shade you'd choose if you were trying to give the paparazzi the slip – but what are these celebrities for, if not brightening our lives?