Ready to Wear: Fashion is having a modest, even sensible, moment

Of some significance to those who care about such things: the so-called "it" bag, shoe, piece of costume jewellery and so forth is no more.

That is, only as it applies to handbags laden with gleaming hardware, strangely elaborate vertiginous footwear, and huge jewel-encrusted pendants. The waiting list for the season's most desirable bag (such as Celine's Classic Box bag, below) shoe, piece of costume jewellery and so on is in no way a thing of the past. That would be to cut off fashion's lifeline.

It's simply that, for the next six months at least, such objects of desire will be rather more discreet in their, well, in their desirability. Fashion is undergoing a modest, and even sensible, moment in line with an all-round less ostentatious mood, and admitting to one's wealth – what wealth there is left – is deemed unseemly. It's nothing short of tacky to be rich right now. Or to show that you are rich, at least.

Think therefore, for now, in terms of the non-statement statement, the type of sartorial gesture that those in the know will immediately recognise as something to kill for, but anyone outside of that particular club will not register. In some ways this mood is as elitist, if not more so, than its more obvious predecessor.

It's not unlike the difference between owning either a floor-length mink coat or a battered old raincoat lined with fur; an all-singing, all-dancing Ferrari or a vintage Bentley Continental. In each case only the most privileged may apply but, as far as the two alternatives are concerned, the owner is not just monied but also highly discerning. Or so the argument goes.

Whichever way one chooses to look at it, the non-statement statement is more difficult to pull off and also to copy. It's all about perfection of proportion, the use of only the finest materials, and design with a capital – if not flashing – D.

In much the same way as it takes more time and effort to look effortless than to dress up like the proverbial Christmas tree, the non-statement statement is nowhere near as relaxed and/or understated and/or easy as it seems.

Elitist doesn't cover it, then. Instead, any apparent relaxation of dress codes is but smoke and mirrors. Make no mistake: this is fashion at its most impenetrable and unforgiving.

s.frankel@independent.co.uk

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