"What do you think of dungarees?" I ask my friend Lucy – we are both in the throes of last month's Paris collections and it's a loaded question, obviously. In between shows, I seek the euphoria (fake) that only shopping can induce and order a pair I've been eyeing up online for a few days – the label is Coming Soon, a Yohji Yamamoto spin-off – from theoutnet.com. And, no, they're not denim. I might, on occasion, be overly audacious in my shopping habits, but I'm not insane.
Back in London two days later and they arrive. They're cut in fine black cotton. And they are big. They are very big. It's safe to say that I could probably fit my entire family in them, perhaps with sofa, which gives new meaning to the concept of one-step dressing. Speaking of family, my son (aged 11 and quick to judge where my wardrobe is concerned), is in stitches.
"What are those?" he shrieks. Interestingly, even at such an early age, Western men seem to think that anything that doesn't cling to the body doesn't really fit. For his part, my other half has always looked upon my love affair with the Japanese design aesthetic with a certain degree of scepticism, inevitably opining, with none of the wisdom of Confucius, "But isn't that too big?".
What other way to wear dungarees is there but oversized, though? Unless, that is, you happen to be Kiki Dee. To my mind, they are a less prissy and more dignified alternative to a sundress. I like the idea of pulling something on over a vest and a pair of sandals without feeling that I'm fit for nowhere but the beach. If my dungarees were purple, people might call me Tinky Winky (not good) and if they were indigo and I wore them with a hoodie, say, I might be more Salt-n-Pepa circa 1990 (a fine fashion reference if ever there was one).
As it stands, I think the look is more late-Eighties workwear/utility in flavour – think the aforementioned Yohji but also Katharine Hamnett, Helmut Lang, Martin Margiela... And I like that.
Susannah Frankel is Fashion Editor of 'The Independent'
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