The fashions that never die

This season sees the return of styles we thought had been consigned to history. Clare Dwyer Hogg reports

Some fashions are like zombies: they just refuse to die. In all good horror films, the zombie will be shot down, battered over the head, and buried six feet under. Then it rises from the dead, ready to make you the next victim.

The cover of the new issue of Vogue features something back from the grave. No, not a zombie, but a model in a flesh-coloured dress made of lace. Lace? The ultimate in fuddy-duddy, "wouldn't be seen dead in", fabric. And it's not the only "never again" style that's back on the catwalks and in the shops as the new season's stock arrives.

Leather trousers are all the rage after years in the fashion wilderness, and bootcuts are back – to the delight of women for whom skinny jeans were impossible.

Some "new" trends for autumn/winter 2008 have barely been away – leggings have been poking out under dresses for about two years now – and some were never that fashionable in the first place. Pashminas were a Sloane Ranger staple long before and after their moment in the fashion limelight.

Is this just fashion's circle turning? Or is the global credit crunch allowing us to dig out style from the back of the wardrobe?

For those old enough to remember leather and lace from last time around (or the time before that), it's time to welcome them back.


Rarely will you see a Sloane Ranger (or a political wife) without her 'poshmina'. This, despite 'Vogue' saying in 1999 that they were over. 'A pashmina is not fashionable,' agrees Stefan Lindemann of 'Grazia'. 'It's a staple. But a Sloane pashmina has fringes. A cashmere wrap does not. And keep the colours neutral.' Cameron Diaz gets it right.


It was favoured as edging on Laura Ashley-style flowery dresses in the Eighties, and was kicked out of the way by power dressing; was reinvented by Madonna; refused to be pigeon-holed as wedding-dress material/goth staple/granny favourite. Lace. It's resilient. It's back (again). It will not disappear, says Jo Ellison, features editor at 'Vogue', so get used to it. 'Lace will never die because its uses are so multifarious,' she says. 'It's an incredibly versatile fabric. It can look punky, powerful, profane or poetic, depending on how you wear it.' Wear it we will, because designer powerhouse Miuccia Prada has decreed it the fabric of the moment, as worn by Tilda Swinton.


Looking back at '80s photographs of Princess Diana, it's easy to laugh. But Emma Jones of Missoni – which has reintroduced leggings for this season – says: 'They've become a staple. Because leggings cut off at the ankle, the thinnest part, that's very flattering for the leg.' The actress Lindsay Lohan has her own leggings line.


Kate Moss's fringe was a short-lived trend. Now that models Agyness Deyn and Petra Nemcova both have newly cut ones, it's time to ask why. Nicola Clarke at John Frieda says: 'Find a good hairdresser who will suggest a suitable fringe that will complement your face shape.' In other words, don't ask them to copy a picture of a supermodel.


Apparently, Blake Lively, hottest US actress of the moment, will be wearing leather trousers in the next series of 'Gossip Girl', which means all sorts of women will be wearing them soon too. Designers have always liked leather, says Sarah Harris, fashion features writer at 'Vogue', though they 'definitely went through a bad patch in the Eighties and early Nineties; they were hard, crunchy and terribly uncomfortable, but Chanel and Versace adored them because they empowered.' Favoured by Cilla Black, above, for 2008, they've evolved, as seen on the Alexander Wang catwalk. 'Think liquorice legs,' says Harris. 'They have to be spray-on tight and you have to be reed thin'.