Fringe benefits: This season's key detail

Put a swing in your step with this season's key detail. Go on, have a flutter, says Gemma Hayward
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Cast aside any Wild West connotations when it comes to fringing and tassels this season because, in the safest hands, any treatment of this time–honoured theme has little to do with Doris Day circa Calamity Jane.

Unless, that is, one happens to be Jean Paul Gaultier whose Texan–inspired collection for Hermès did have more than a touch of the Princess Pocahontas to it, a look it might be best to politely disregard for the time being at least. Take inspiration instead, then, from the likes of Alberta Ferretti, Alexander McQueen, Jil Sander and Alessandro Dell'Acqua for whom all things fringed and tasselled have taken on a rather more subtle flavour.

In all imaginable fabrics, weights and lengths, fringing trims just about every garment that comes to mind for spring/summer - everything from modern, metropolitan tailoring to chic cocktail dresses have been given a lift with remarkable results. Suede, unsurprisingly, is the most ubiquitous material where this particular trend is concerned but more luxurious silk strands which are as fine and soft to the touch as angel hair are also highly decorative.

At the aforementioned Jil Sander, designer Raf Simons' loosely tailored collection is given an edge with the use of clean lines of tassels; Alexander McQueen flirted with fringing to create draped and very romantic minidresses and Alessandro Dell'Acqua offered up tasselled separates in this season's muted hues.

On a practical level, any tassels should be worn only with caution. Many a grand-scale fashion disaster has occurred when the proud owner of a fringed garment has failed to notice that what appear to be single strands at first glance are in fact fragile loops of thread. Not a buckle, button or bauble must be allowed near this particular form of embellishment to protect both garment and wearer. Fringing may simply unravel or, failing that, the person beneath it might find herself dragged across the dance floor, say, by any passer by who happens to brush past her fringes unawares.

The safest way for the fashion–wary to buy into this style is via accessories (isn't it always?). A fringed heel or gladiator sandal for instance will more than pay lip service to the look. Happily, the British high street has interpreted this side of things well. Fashion's love affair with fringing is, quite obviously, ephemeral and so it comes as something of a relief that Dorothy Perkins, Oasis and Mango have all produced very covetable fringed handbags and tasselled totes that belie their price tags.

Above all, resist the urge to step out head–to–toe in tassels. If your frock is fringed then your bag and shoes shouldn't be and vice versa. Soft furnishings may suit an overload of fringing but no self–respecting or stylish woman of the world should ever really run the risk of dressing like a lampshade.

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