Ready to Wear: At the shows, a head-to-toe new look is, at best, unintelligent

While the stores are bursting with all-new autumn/winter 2010 designs, for those who attend the twice-yearly ready-to-wear collections, gathering momentum in London as I write, the issue is our personal wardrobe for the, er, spring/summer 2011 shows.

The truly brilliant – and the visionary stylist in particular – will, at this point, demonstrate their extraordinary foresight by dressing in a manner the rest of us won't embrace – or better still even understand – until a further six months down the line. The high-profile magazine editor, meanwhile, will pick autumn's key pieces from big name designers – Balenciaga, Prada, Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Celine – and work them for all they're worth. That's a lot, obviously, in this most sartorially obsessed of all possible worlds, both in terms of fashion credibility and cold, hard, cash.

In fact, the British contingent is famously less fierce than most. There are those, for example, who are happy to wear high street – you won't see Mesdames Roitfeld (pictured), Alt, Wintour, Sozzani et al doing that. We are also, generally, just a little more frayed around the edges than our international contemporaries, although scruffy doesn't necessarily mean bad. At least some of the time, such idiosyncrasy is where London's reputation springs from.

Whatever, the clever fashion follower will always opt for the odd addition to their wardrobe: maybe one designer purchase, a canny thrift-shop find, a classic piece that never dates and maybe a shiny – or not so shiny, depending on one's taste – new pair of shoes and bag. Times are hard and a head-to-toe new look is, at best, unintelligent and at worst, plain uncouth.

However laissez-faire we may or may not be, though, the opening days of the shows are far from a walk in the park. Remember the first day back at school after the long, summer break? A harbinger of things to come, perhaps, for me this was a minefield, not because of who I would or wouldn't be sitting next to over the forthcoming term, and certainly nothing even remotely concerned with any anxiety over academic achievement. The issue, then as now, was always what to wear.

s.frankel@independent.co.uk

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