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Ready To Wear: The best thing about Carnival is the costumes


By the time this is published, the Notting Hill Carnival will be in full swing and, oh, at this point, to be Rihanna, who looked so brilliant at the Crop Over Festival in Barbados at the beginning of this month. One could be forgiven for forgetting, if only for a moment, that the tiniest red and gold embroidered bikini, matching leg harnessing, fishnet tights and what might perhaps best be described as black hobnail boots are really a very good idea indeed.

Then, of course, there are the joys of the feathered headdress to consider. In our dreams. Truly, though, among the best things about Carnival is the brilliance of the costumes – more bizarrely exotic still under determinedly less-than-exotic London skies – and the fact that women of all shape, colour and size appear more than happy to strip off to the bare minimum to show-case them. No "does my bum look big in this?" lack of style confidence for these celebratory souls. So what if it does?

Strangely, this being the dawn of the autumn/winter season and all things woolly (one might therefore assume), should the lovely ladies in question have looked to the catwalks, they would have found more than a little to accommodate them.

Feathers there are aplenty, for example: in livid purple at Yves Saint Laurent; fondant bright at D&G; canary yellow at Versus. Then there's the inordinate amount of sparkle and shine to consider. It's everywhere from sequins at Prada – where the effect is admittedly more alien than Vegas showgirl – to Vivienne Westwood Gold Label where, aptly, gold glitter proliferates.

And such light-hearted and optimistic touches are good to see.

In the end, however, none of the looks that make their way through West London for the next two days are likely ever to spring from here.

The world's designers take inspiration from Carnival, thank you, not vice versa and it's safe to assume that at least some of the looks on display have been worked on all year.

What's more, it is just the homespun, and laissez-faire (let it all hang out?) qualities of the outfits of the dancing queens in question that makes them so appealing.

Anyone in need of a label to suggest status need not apply.