Ankle-up in lace

After years of black opaques, Prada has set the trend for lacy, textured, even laddered tights.

This autumn, fashionable legs are striding out bolder than ever, in a wide array of colour, texture and print. It all began last March, on the catwalks: Prada's in Milan to be precise, which left fashion folk agasp at chocolate or blueberry crochet tights. Dolce e Gabbana and Anna Molinari also showed the sort of tights you thought you had left behind along with O-levels and school playgrounds. A trend was born, but only for legs that are trim and firm enough to carry the weight of a heavy wool covering.

A pair of Prada lacy-knit tights will set you back pounds 98, which is most women's hosiery budget for a lifetime. It is not surprising then that Wolford's pounds 22 "Follow me" design has already sold out at Fenwick on New Bond Street. Waiting lists are accumulating.

Mary Flack press officer for Fenwick says: "Wolford are the Rolls-Royce of tights. They have a very loyal following. A customer may see a design featured in a magazine, and phone the store to be put on a waiting list."

Some may scoff at the price of such a fragile garment, (Fogal has a pair in heavy-duty lace on sale at pounds 115) but the shrewd customer can mimic the look at a fraction of the cost. And what better way to pep up an outfit than adding a great pair of outrageously eye-catching tights for under pounds 5.

"Jonathan Aston tights are practically walking out of the store," says Mary Flack. "They are amazing value, achieving exactly the right look in the right colours at a throw-away price."

Selfridge's buyers believe that this trend has been creeping in for a year, with those who bought fish-net as a summer trend now having the confidence to buy something bolder.

"Pattern tights usually make up about 5 per cent of a collection," says one of the store's buyer, "but this season the emphasis has increased to 10 or 15 per cent. But I think women are more aware because of catwalk styling."

These patterned and textured tights aren't your average shapeless tube that bag at the ankle and wrinkle at the knee, for modern-day fibre technology ensures durability, shape and fit. But for pounds 98, you almost expect a new pair of shapely legs as well.

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