Style police: A shot in the dark

It's no use spending a fortune looking a la mode and then spoiling it all with a dodgy pair of shades, warns JAMES SHERWOOD

How excited can you get about sunglasses? It's a question Style Police asks every time we see someone under 40 wearing Status Shades. Designer sunnies are a dark corner of the fashion industry. Sorry, but tortoiseshell monstrosities with lenses as thick as re-entry shields just don't speak chic. Vulgar gold logos, be they from Fendi, Gucci or Valentino, simply say "I spent pounds 100 in a duty free shop". Design has nothing to do with it.

Now Style Police is as much a label queen as the next girl. But designer shades are such a tacky old cliche. Italians wear status shades as if genetically programmed to look cool. Gold logos somehow belong next to Tuscan cheekbones. The British wear sunglasses apologetically - self-conscious lest we look a mite pretentious. Thing is, you've just got to think about sunglasses now that the barometric pressure is starting to go up as high as a boy band's vocal range. So what's to do?

Sunglasses are the handbag essential of spring/summer. They are your prima accessory assoluta. So you've got to look for a design that says this season. Chloe's pink frame and diamante cat's-eye shades have Style Police purring in approval. They are to be worn by the kind of Lolita chick Serge Gainsbourg would sell his last Gaulloise to seduce. Chloe's shades collection is designed by Stella McCartney and made by Italian shade maestros Marcolin. Pay attention here. Stella designed the shades. She didn't get some factory in Taiwan to knock some money spinners off. Crucially, Chloe's colours and detailing are in harmony with the pretty feeling this season. They sparkle like a Vegas billboard announcing the return of glamour.

How to wear it

Shades are the one item that must work with every shred of summer schmutter you buy this season. Get 'em wrong and you might as well buy a kaftan and stop at home.

You're going to see one particular Chloe style a lot this season: aviators with a diamante heart etched on one frame. Forget it. Glamour and utility go together like chardonnay and Domestos. It's the Fifties Catwoman diamante shades you really want. Granted, Gucci's fat white plastic Jackie O shades can look sharp if you're on the way to Bvlgari or rehab. But you'll look like you're auditioning as an extra in Antz with those big bug-eyed numbers. "It's cooler to get away from label-oriented design," says Scene fashion news editor Danny Rigby. "It's more about personality: the frame that works for your face, the eccentric colour, the detailing."

Where to buy it

"One of the Minx girls has been wearing diamante frames from a charity shop for two years," says Minx fashion editor Steph Stevens. "I've been wearing white plastic diamante numbers I bought from Top Shop two seasons ago. I like that Farrah Fawcett-Majors feeling to diamante. It's slightly white-trashy to wear pastel plastics and I'm loving that." How many times do we have to drum it into you? Go to source if you can't afford a label like Chloe. The Fifties were the decade of pastel plastic and diamante sunglasses. The chazza shops and vintage stores are full of Fifties originals. Just look at Marilyn in How To Marry A Millionaire to understand their sex kitten quality. Yes, Marcolin has made Chloe's diamond cat's-eyes to perfection. The shades are between pounds 98 and pounds 125 - not duty free. So you either stay in one Saturday night and spend the booze budget on Chloes or get busy with last season's Guccis and a tube of glue.

Address book

Chloe by Marcolin: 01635 529997.

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