Ready To Wear: Fashion's true colour

"The one thing the women who buy our clothes have in common is that they are strong, even severe," says Alber Elbaz, the feted creative force behind the Lanvin label. "They are independent and free. They are not going to wear banana or pistachio."

It is certainly advisable to think carefully before trusting a woman who would wear either of these insipid, not to mention unfortunately food-related hues. Instead, says Elbaz: "If you're going to do colour, do it properly. Red, orange, yellow, fuchsia, black, white."

That's us told then and this designer for one has proved himself only too willing to put his money where his mouth is for the time being at least. What's more, it is heart-warming to discover that as the autumn/winter collections arrive in store there is more evidence than ever that he is by no means alone. The new season's silhouette is, of course, suitably dramatic - tightly cinched at the waist, perhaps, or standing away from the body and roomy on the top half emphasising legs slender, long and lean. Then there's the return of the strong shoulder and the exaggeratedly voluminous sleeve. Structure, then, is back in fashion - nothing even remotely droopy is to be tolerated - and with it a vibrant colour palette to match.

For John Galliano at Dior all the colours of the proverbial rainbow are the order of the day - fuchsia, rose, flame, papal purple and poison green. The latter in particular is not a shade beloved of those who like to blend into their environment, particularly if that happens to be urban. Instead, take inspiration from vintage femme fatale Cyd Charisse with black bob and cigarette holder in Singing In The Rain and know that this is a colour worn only by women who are not to be messed with.

Miuccia Prada's take on colour is equally vivid although rather more strange just as might be expected. The good lady herself describes it as "violent" and it is true that the jarring juxtapositions of vivid green, again, waxy orange and blue as well, it almost goes without saying, as this designer's self-inflicted bete noire, brightest turquoise, is as startling as it is ultimately beautiful.

For those who would like to keep their bold colour to a minimum and for whom even the thought of a magenta cashmere sweater, say, is anathema there's always brightly coloured stockings to consider. The soft option price-wise and pleasingly challenging to boot particularly when worn with the skirt length of the season, the midi, these came in every colour from chartreuse to sunshine yellow and from London bus red to lavender on catwalks as diverse as Balenciaga, Christian Lacroix and, this time for his own collection, John Galliano.

s.frankel@independent.co.uk

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