Get your disco safari jumpsuit on

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Rhiannon Harries rounds up the key trends for spring/summer 2009. And fear not, while some may look crazy on the catwalk, they can all be easily adapted for life in the real world

Asymmetry

Seen at Lanvin

Those canny enough to invest in a one-shouldered piece for autumn can congratulate themselves as they roll it out again this spring. Asymmetric styles were a hugely popular choice among designers from Alessandro Dell'Acqua to Yohji Yamamoto. Mark Baverstock, head of international womenswear at Matches, thinks it sums up the season's glamorous feel: "There were a few trends that we grouped under a late 1970s/early 1980s Studio 54 heading. Lanvin had some beautiful animal-print dresses very much in that vein."

Colour

Seen at Prada

There's no room for pessimism as 2009 kicks off – well, not in designer's palettes anyway. This spring is bursting with neon brights and metallics, although this time everything is kept nicely sophisticated by a smattering of deeper or neutral tones. Spectrums of blue and green, worn all at once, will be a key look, while bursts of orange, pink and yellow will add a zing of sunshine. For fans of more muted shades, the "new nudes" are a refined option, as is navy, which My-wardrobe.com's buying director Luisa de Paula declares "a great, soft alternative to black".

Eighties

Seen at Stella McCartney

It's was a decade whose fashions tend to inspire love and loathing in equal measure, but this season the 1980s-influence is so widespread that detractors may just have to learn to like it if they want to find anything to wear. Luckily, there's more to the decade's sartorial legacy than you may think, according to Laura Larbalestier, Selfridges designer- wear buying manager: "It's expressed through two extremes. Firstly, a return to minimalism with Calvin Klein-inspired, simple, monochrome shapes, shown at Dries Van Noten and Balenciaga. It's a modern look that is effortless to wear."

And if you're wondering what has become of more obvious 1980s staples such as the power-suit and, of course, the shoulderpad, rest assured that both have been given a 2009 twist. "A new take on power dressing will also be key," says Larbalestier. "Accentuated, raised shoulders create a strong new silhouette, especially at Balmain where the shape was the collection's motif."

Exoticism

Seen at Osman Yousefzada

Providing us with some much-needed escapism, designers have racked up some serious fashion air miles with all the globetrotting styles on offer. The East seems to be the most fertile source of inspiration, with Paul Smith, Miu Miu and YSL all showing collections of an Oriental persuasion. Expect kaftans, harem pants and kimono-style dresses. Venturing further in to the wild, animal prints conjure up safaris, with leopard-print dresses ramping up the glamour at Lanvin and gorilla faces emblazoned on Christopher Kane's dresses.

Earthy make-up

Seen at Vivienne Westwood Red Label

Autumn's dramatic, Gothic make-up is a hard act to follow, but top make-up artist Sharon Dowsett believes the season ahead will prove just as interesting. "Character, history and culture are all key," she says. "The Gothic vibe isn't going away, but it's a little smudgier and softer for spring. Make-up has taken on an earthy, organic feel, but it's also very strong. Brown has had a renaissance, used for a glamazon look that ties in with all the tribal styles in clothing. It's less about colours than experimenting with textures."

Jumpsuits

Seen at Alexander McQueen

The garment of the season, the all-in-one is being touted as spring's alternative to everything from the evening dress to the casual work suit. For Coco Chan, contemporary designers buyer at Harvey Nichols, the item is more wearable than one might imagine: "It's a pretty yet practical look that can make an easy transition from runway to real life." Skin-tight and sequinned at Alexander McQueen, loosely tailored in silk at Stella McCartney and bad-gal black leather at Proenza Schouler, the variations seem to be endless.

Ladylike hair

Seen at Ralph Lauren

Dig out the shine spray, hair is going high-maintenance as we wave farewell to hassle-free mussed-up styles. Luke Hersheson, the man responsible for Keira and Kylie's locks, explains: "This season looks different to recent spring/summers. From the catwalks, Ralph Lauren replaced that beachy look with a smarter safari vibe. We're also going to see a return to straight hair, but not that 1990s poker-straight finish; a little more lived-in. There are up-dos too, although the nestiness is gone now and it's more lady-like, as seen at YSL and Prada."

Transparency

Seen at Sonia Rykiel

Given the amount of flesh on display on the catwalks (bum-skimming shorts at Gucci, bra tops at Prada) a wisp of sheer fabric is suddenly looking like the modest option. From dresses and blouses to macs and – heavens above! – trousers, it seems no item of clothing is safe from a see-through make-over. While exposed bras and pants looked reasonably convincing on the YSL catwalk, their translation into real life needs to be handled with care. Better options by far are layering up sheer fabrics or introducing them through some discreet panelling.

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