Susannah Frankel: Ready To Wear

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Neo-Gothic. It's the buzz-word on every fashionable being's lips just now. Because, while the Milan collections might have been awash with references to the Seventies, a darker mood running alongside also decrees that the heroines of Edgar Allen Poe's tortured world, and even the type of backcombed-haired, fishnet clad habituées of Camden Market, are the muses of the forthcoming autumn/winter season both in the Italian fashion capital and elsewhere. And this despite the fact that part of their favourite location was, only recently, burnt to a cinder. See this, then, as something of a tribute, whether it was intended that way or not.

In London, Giles Deacon wrapped his models' heads in veils of black silk while offering up a loosely – very loosely – Victorian line, cut in suitably sombre hues. Emma Cook followed a more grungey, early-Eighties take on the theme. Luella Bartley's scary fairies had big, black crimped hair streaming with (also big and black) ribbons. Over at Vivienne Westwood's Red Label show meanwhile... well, there's always a touch of Gothic drama at play where this particular designer is concerned.

It should come as no great surprise with this in mind that the fabric du jour is lace, as seen in copious quantities on all the aforementioned designers' catwalks but also – and this will have the most far-reaching impact – at Prada.

The first lady of Italian fashion said last week that her latest women's-wear collection, crafted almost from start to finish in lace, was: "very Italian, very dignified and very elegant, but also very serious." Here was lace as it might be worn at various stages in a woman's life – to a christening, a wedding, a funeral. But while lace has many connotations – all of them, incidentally, profoundly romantic – it is in its most siren-esque form that the spidery weave is soon to dominate.

Unlike the short, sweet, tunic shapes that have seemed none too easy to, er, shift – they're easy to wear, after all, if not overly sophisticated on anyone over the age of, say, 30 – here were classically beautiful, adult clothes, cut in the no-frills silhouette that has long been a Prada signature. Lace coats, dresses, shirts, skirts and even cycling shorts (yes, lace cycling shorts – stay with me) came in typically Prada-esque hues of flesh, vivid orange, petrol blue and, of course, brown but, most significantly, black.

"Femme fatale" is the way the designer herself described the overall effect. And where Miuccia Prada leads...

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