Spring has sprung. And not a minute too soon. Those who have yet to pack away their warm winter wardrobe had best get started and prepare themselves for the most unashamedly feminine season that has been seen for some time.
The colours are pretty – all the shades of white, pastel pink, blue, primrose and mint green – the silhouette is reminiscent of one a princess might like – wasp waists, bell-shaped skirts and a narrow shoulder – and embroideries are the sweetest imaginable – jewelled daisies and more meadow flowers decorate the surface of silk chiffons, organzas, jacquards and lace.
As for pattern... perhaps the most conspicuous technological advancement in recent years can be witnessed in the rise and rise of the engineered print. Be it figurative, graphic, photographic, whatever, these are as busy, bold and modishly mismatched as even the most fierce fashion follower might dare to wear. Nothing escapes this mindset, least of all the still-ubiquitous skinny jeans. They come stamped with everything from tropical landscapes to exotic blooms, and in colours intended to dazzle, to boot.
This is no time to be shy, then.
The principle reference across the board nods to the age-old art of haute couture. Couture equals quality: hand-workmanship and an attention to detail and finish that is second to none. It's a no-brainer, really. When times are tough, the sartorially discerning go in search of that rare thing, an investment piece, a garment which looks as though it might actually be worth any hard-earned cash and which might be passed down through generations as a bona-fide heirloom. Worry not that this may lead to the type of bourgeois, French style that, in our modern times, seems just a tad on the heavy side. In the finest designers' hands, it has been duly subverted. Raw edges, a marginally larger-than-life line and a naïve, home-spun feel ensure that clothing that has its roots here boasts a spontaneity that is more contemporary in flavour.
For those who prefer a more understated look, good news comes with the minimal aesthetic still upheld by Phoebe Philo at Céline, providing a much-needed counterpoint to any overriding nostalgia and/or sweetness. Androgynous tailoring, oversized cotton dresses and coats, and masculine shirting are all very much on the agenda with just this sort of woman in mind. Sportswear, too, gets more than a look in: lace-trimmed, body-conscious Aertex and a splash of true red in an otherwise monochrome world ensures all those possessed by Olympic fever can dress to match.
Shoes, meanwhile, run the gamut from spike-heeled stiletto to stomping brothel-creeper and from fetishistic ankle boot to ballerina flat. And bags come in the form of jewelled clutches, purses not unlike those your granny might once have carried and, of course, satchels, which remain the functional carry-all of choice.