Fashion: Chiffon takes on a new toughness with Autumn's transparency trend

Spotted at Glastonbury: Lily Allen's pants. Not that they were easily missed, mind you, with the young singer wandering around in the most transparent of sheer slips. It actually looks a bit like it was drawn on to her later by an injurious censor, so clear were her matching undies beneath its gauzy netting.

To give Lily her dues, hers is not a torso anyone could object to seeing, but she has slightly missed the point of autumn's transparency trend by mistaking "sheer" for sheer bloody-mindedness – "If see-through is cool, then I don't care who sees through it." No, no, say the designers, it's a bit more opaque than that.

Fashion's love of chiffon is well documented and normally filed away under the heading "romantic". This season though, it's less floaty and airy, and more solid. As we all know, fashion loves a dichotomy. So there was full-length sheer at Chloé, Galliano and Issey Miyake, punning on the notion of covering up. At Karl Lagerfeld, Nina Ricci and Christopher Kane, chiffon was used to make cage-constructed coats and panelled dresses, riffing on its very solidity as a material. And at Lanvin and Comme des Garçons (where else?), chiffon was layered to such an extent that it becomes totally un-transparent. Zing – you're an instant walking paradox!

Gone are the days of Cher's Bob Mackie version of sheer. But although chiffon has taken on a new, structured toughness for autumn, it hasn't lost the girly, wafty label entirely – after all, there's nothing romantic about someone seeing your pants through your dress.

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