Just when it appeared that fashion had given up on the concept of ladylike dress - something of a retrograde step some might reasonably argue - Marc Jacobs sends out the most well-manicured procession of looks in recent history. The man who famously gave the world designer grunge way back when - not to mention an army of cute Downtown New Yorkers in identikit Peter Pan collars - has decreed that this autumn our aesthetic will be long, lean and entirely sophisticated. We will embrace the sort of no-nonsense colour worn so well by French women- think tomato red, ivory, navy - but which in the wrong hands whispers of one too many trips to the John Lewis womenswear department. Wide-brimmed hats and, most of all, soft leather gloves will finish our immaculately polished physical appearance.

To be honest, the hat might require rather more commitment than may realistically be expected on a grey Monday morning (the words pigs, and, might fly, spring to mind). A pair of gloves, however, offers up just the type of old-school elegance required and with minimal fuss.

In the days when Yves Saint Laurent ruled the runways, madam's gloves would have matched her blouse, say, or even her clutch bag and shoes. They would, perhaps, be a feminine flourish - a black trouser suit, say, worn with rose pink accessories. Jacobs, who has clearly looked to the esteemed Saint Laurent archive for inspiration this time round, has given his choice of colour a modern twist. Gloves may be dove grey, shoes, meanwhile, are canary yellow - unlikely colour pairings like this one being a recognised feature of modern dress by now. Any co-ordination is so extreme as to appear ironic - a wide-brimmed, red and black hat worn with a pair of over-the elbow gloves in just the same shades.

Of course, as well as being a highly respectable symbol of bourgeois Western dress, gloves may be more fetishist in flavour. Look only to Karl Lagerfeld's personal style where this particular mindset is concerned. This designer is, of course, inseparable from his fingerless black leather biker gloves embellished with silver grommets etched with the iconic Chanel logo and worn with silver rings courtesy of LA jeweller Chrome Hearts on top.

This season, Lagerfeld's signature collection for women boasts just the type of design he himself might choose to wear. In colours ranging from classic black to brightest purple and emerald these are rather more aggressive than their more conventionally well-mannered counterparts, particularly when layered over fishnet and the talon-like nails Morticia Addams would be proud of. More Nu-Grave than John Lewis, then, and not very ladylike either.

s.frankel@independent.co.uk

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