More sex please, we're British

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The stiff upper lip is a lie – London designers are  feeling kinky for autumn, says Rebecca Gonsalves

Sex sells. It’s an irrefutable truth, and – in fashion – one that is most often acknowledged on the catwalks of Milan and Paris. For autumn, London designers got in on the act, too, albeit in a typically subversive way, as mad passions turned into kinky business.

This was apparent at Jonathan Saunders, where shiny vinyl and slick rubber dresses were feminised by a retro-waisted silhouette and lingerie details such as moulded cups and waspies. Wet-look, wipe-clean fabrics cropped up again and again on the London catwalks: as PVC and laminated silk twill at Roksanda Ilincic; circle skirts and minis in patent leather at Topshop Unique; while varnished nylon trousers punctuated JW Anderson’s collection of strapped, flapped and peep-hole strewn designs.

 The subversive appeal of a flasher mac in patent leather at Richard Nicoll or French maid ruffles re-imagined in gingham by Meadham Kirchhoff and placed on a velvet dress may be expected from the exciting talents of London. But even Burberry, that powerhouse of British stoicism, was game with sheer latex pencil skirts and trench coats revealing a new side to the house as well as the models’ underwear.

So, the British stiff upper lip and “no sex please” attitude has been turned on its head this season, on the catwalks at least. But making a statement on the catwalk is all very well – how to wear the trend on the street without looking like you walk it is another matter.

Leather has become a staple of the winter wardrobe for more than just jackets and boots, so a skirt or dress is an obvious place to start. Black, cherry red or grey are the shades least likely to raise eyebrows in the office, while those feeling more adventurous should opt for attention-grabbing, slightly “off” colours, such as Whistles’ pale green, and patent finishes with all their wipe-clean connotations. After all, you don’t need to have seen ITV’s seminal 1990s drama series Band of Gold to understand the  subtext of patent red leather.

There’s a delicate balance to maintain – the severity of leather should be somehow softened. Nicoll paired his patent pencil skirt with an oversized mohair sweater for a reason. Not only does a softer texture create a sense of security, it provides a clash that makes it perfectly modern. Playing with proportions is important, too: a second-skin skirt can be at once toned down with the addition of a mannish shirt or boxy jacket.

Buckles are a more subversive way to nod at the trend. Zara’s high-waisted cuff-hemmed trousers seem innocent enough, while the razor-sharp point of its buckled court shoe is seriously fetish-worthy. Accessories are key to this look, too. A pair of leather or latex driving gloves will add just a hint of the dominatrix, while a waspie – a truncated corset – provides a glamorous retro touch that a wide waist belt will echo. Lingerie details on cocktail dresses, as well as underwear as outerwear pieces, are more familiar ways to play the siren.

After all, dressing for the role you want to play is just the beginning.

News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

    £35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

    Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

    Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

    £35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

    £45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

    Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

    Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

    Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
    Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

    Crisp sales are in decline

    As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

    Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

    Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
    Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'