Ready To Wear: Is it wise to dress merely with flattery in mind?

In the most elevated fashion circles it is not always deemed strictly stylish to wear a dress that is simply flattering. Witness the rise of Lady Gaga as a fashion plate par

excellence. Here is a woman who famously thinks nothing of wearing a none-too-shapely dress crafted out of raw meat or, more recently, carrying a life-size headless twin on her slender shoulders thus giving the Hunchback of Notre Dame a run for his money. Then there's the Rihanna school of fashion where the body is so sensational that, really, wearing anything at all seems nothing short of churlish.

Back on planet earth and we mere mortals might be forgiven for requiring a helping hand where a grand entrance is concerned. Kate Winslet, below, certainly feels that way. At the Paris premiere of Carnage she wore a Stella McCartney dress that rendered her already impressive curves on a par with those of Jessica Rabbit. It's a simple but highly effective formula. The front of the dress is red and the back is black. Stand against a dark background, then, and the hourglass body of a 1950s fashion illustration is achieved.

The dress no doubt weighs in at a price but there are more than a few women out there who would argue it was worth it. Not since Roland Mouret's Galaxy, with its hi-tech underpinnings, and as worn by everyone from Victoria Beckham to Demi Moore, has a garment worked such magic on the female form. Anyone who loves fashion knows only too well that stepping out in head-to-toe Comme des Garcons will earn considerable brownie points with members of an impressively initiated tribe. They also understand, however, that if dressing to flaunt one's own considerable assets, a little black Azzedine Alaïa knit is likely to trump that. And aren't we lucky to have the choice. Unsurprisingly, on the red carpet, the latter motivation tends to dominate and the likes of Mouret, McCartney and, the aforementioned King of Cling himself, Alaïa, will be only too happy to oblige.

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