Susannah Frankel: Appearance anxiety before ready-to-wear shows is like the sleepless nights at the start of a new school term


A pre-collections trip to Bond Street is part of every self-respecting British fashion editor's agenda. However much we may already have in our wardrobes, the (debatably ridiculous) anxiety surrounding our own appearance on the eve of the twice-yearly women's ready-to-wear shows is comparable to the sleepless nights of yesteryear at the start of a new school term. And so I find myself in Prada and Jil Sander and witnessing first-hand the veritable explosion of colour, six months after it was first shown on the catwalk, and a dazzling reality by now. (Consider these edited highlights. I won't bore you with peripheral hosiery shopping, for example, here.)

And dazzling it most certainly is. Striped fox furs in racing green, midnight blue, flame and white stripes at Prada rub shoulders with tailoring in Crayola-bright primaries and knitwear in equally bold hues. At Jil Sander, a peacock blue parka, fuchsia shirt and bags in neon shades of pink, lemon and lime are all nothing short of uplifting to behold.

"Doesn't wearing black just seem dated?" says a friend over lunch. And there is that although, I swiftly point out, for the most part my jeans are blue. Don't mess with heritage, or indeed perfection.

A pair of paper-thin tangerine, pointed toe flats catches my eye. In ultra-soft leather they feel as lovely as they look. Scanning the rails of rainbow-hued clothing, meanwhile, has something of the appeal of the sweetshop about it. Certainly, these are clothes in a palette so refreshingly new and vivid that anyone with even a passing interest in fashion must be forgiven for cooing over them for more time than is strictly seemly.

A time-honoured fashion cliché decrees that those who would prefer not to embrace colour head-on, might like to pay lip-service by carrying a tomato-red clutch bag, say, or wearing a sunshine yellow shirt the collar of which merely peeps over the neckline of a neutral sweater. This time around, though, such a faint-hearted gesture seems self-defeating: head-to-toe vibrancy is the point here. And so, the perfect little coat (black) seems ultimately a matter of more pressing importance. And, yes, I know I have several already. The words 'safety', 'in' and 'numbers' spring to mind.