They're taking the piste

Skiwear this season is sleek and daring, but more suitable for the nightclub than the black run, writes Marion Hume
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Did it start on the slopes or the street? Skiwear-inspired clothes are turning up as sporty daywear and hip clubwear, while fashion trends are making their mark on practical clothing for the powder.

Let's take the slopes first. When skiing first became chic as well as sporty, dressing for the snow might have meant a jumpsuit by Pucci and a jaunty scarf by Gucci. By the Fifties, it was de rigueur to look gorgeous in Gstaad, chic in Chamonix and stylish in St Moritz. Then the slopes became over-run with practical, but horribly unpleasing, combinations of colour, all smudged together on over-chunky parkas. Now you can't slide on the slopes without having to avert your eyes from the glare of someone wearing cerise and turquoise, emerald green and purple, tangerine and Day-glo lime.

So it's not surprising that designers have seen a niche market. Ralph Lauren (whose skiwear looks as if it has slalomed out of some James Bond film) has been taking military-style skiwear (think Ice Station Zebra) as inspiration for attractive ski clothes for several seasons now. If your tastes don't run to admiral red and nautical blue with gold braid and regimental buttons, then Armani's ski line, Giorgio Armani Neve, brings muted mushroom, sand, grey and beige to slopes more familiar with jarring brights. (Both Ralph and Giorgio will also equip you with iridescent slope dazzlers in silver.)

But what you see here is not designed to keep you warm as you take a tumble in fresh snow. Instead, these are fashion's versions of ski clothes, inspired by the tight fit of salopettes, the form-following cut of ski jackets and the sleek lines of fast-moving aerodynamic sportswear. Hussein Chalayan's black trousers are ski-tight (but they are not to be confused with leggings, which are very far out of fashion favour right now). His red jacket is padded to the hips (but would not be much good against Alpine wind chills).

Joseph takes a nostalgic view with a snowflaked twinset which, in truth, is as likely to turn up on a leafy country walk as in a Swiss chalet. Red or Dead adds "go faster" stripes to ski pants that are as likely to turn up on a horizontal dance floor as on a near-vertical piste. In fashion's play on skiwear, tops are cropped, and midriffs are bared in a manner that would spell hypothermia in the Alpine chills. Meanwhile, the level of padding on puffa jackets is deliberately exaggerated in the name of style.

Not for wind chill, hardly for the great outdoors, but certainly snug for the ski lodge in the Alps or in Aspen, or alternatively for any urban party, fashion's spin on ski doesn't care too much about practicality. While both Ralph Lauren and Giorgio Armani have launched their separate ski lines, which are both technically correct for the sport, other fashion designers are only really interested in the appearance of sleek clothes for apres-ski. Forget the piste and pour another glass of gluhwein.

Left:

Red padded jacket, pounds 208, by Hussein Chalayan, from Jones, 15 Floral Street, Covent Garden, London WC2. Black bell-bottomed ski pants, pounds 250, by DKNY, 27 Old Bond Street, London W1. Black top, pounds 65, by Bordingirl, from Jones, as before and Duffer of St George, 29 Shorts Gardens, London WC2.

Right:

Pink puffa jacket, pounds 104.99, by Diesel, from Spirit at Selfridges, Oxford Street, W1. For stockists nationwide, ring 0171-833 2255. Royal blue fleece T-shirt with pink stripe, pounds 80, and matching skirt, pounds 60, by Bordingirl, stockists as before.

Top:

Blue and orange ski jacket, pounds 75, by Kiliwatch, from The Big Apple, 70 Neal St, London WC2. Black cotton ski pants, pounds 78, from Jigsaw branches nationwide. Black-ribbed jumper with orange stripe, pounds 49, by Kiliwatch, as before. Black track boots, pounds 99.99, by Technica, from Blacks, 215/217 Kensington High Street, London W8.

Photographer: Heather Favell

Stylist: Jo Adams assisted by Liz Lamb

Hair and make-up: Laurent Mole using Bobbi Brown and Shu Uemura products

Model: Loreta

Shot at Click Studios, Northburgh House, Northburgh St, London. EC1

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