Style Police: Give us a flash

Forties ruffles and bold florals not your style? Tough, says JAMES SHERWOOD, if you want to be anyone this summer, you're going to have to wear them

The Oscars, as usual, brought out all sorts of horror frocks (Celine Dion, one more monstrosity and you're banned). The outfit which made the most headlines was, of course, the pink Ralph Lauren dress which the saccharine Gwyneth Paltrow floated about in, looking like a particularly sticky piece of candyfloss. Only months ago, Style Police felt uneasy about Ms Paltrow's look; blonde, bland and lachrymose is not where women should be heading.

Sometimes Style Police thinks we need a divining stick to locate the energy underlining the season. But we don't need to call Eileen Drury because the message is emerging loud, clear and sassy. We're getting a distinct feeling for, not prettiness, but allure. It's the kind of message daring you to exchange the trainer for strappy kitten heels. It's telling us the therapeutic benefits of sewing on a sequin and putting on a bit of slap.

Cate Blanchett got it right at the Oscars. Her bare-back, black, Galliano dress embroidered with honeysuckle and hummingbirds made her look like an elegant, sexily-tattooed lady. Elle fashion editor Claudia Navone nailed it in the April issue. Her Forties, Harlem-inspired, All That Jazz shoot, with divine, black divas vamping it up in floral, fringed and searing- yellow ruffled tea gowns, made sense. On Gwyneth, John Rocha's see-through silk, georgette slip dress would look as bland as a nun's habit. On a black beauty, wearing it with a rakishly-angled trilby, the frock rocks.

The final piece of the jigsaw fell into place when US Vogue's Kristina Zimbalist found "the meaning of millennial pretty" in the March issue. The future is New York label Tuleh. Tuleh's philosophy is "Take a chance. Have a laugh. Show up in a party dress. It's a party". Tuleh co-designer Josh Patner rightly says, "Women are realising that the whole drill about convenient wardrobes and day-to-evening is so dreary. We're presenting the antidote to clinical fashion". US Vogue pushed the trend by linking Tuleh with Pleasantville's Fifties retro. Wrong. Though Tuleh occasionally slides into the prissy prom dress that put Isaac Mizrahi out of business, the basic message is: getting sassy for spring makes sense.

How to wear it

When Marilyn Monroe's housekeeper, Eunice Murray, saw the skin-tight, see-through dress Jean Louis had made for Monroe the night she sang "Happy Birthday Mr President" to JFK, she freaked. Marilyn's reply is a message to you all: "Be brave, Mrs Murray. Be brave". We've been pussyfooting around colour for too long. It's time to look at searing hot colour: big blues, acid yellow, a cute floral. Sassy fashion demands a bit of detail - if there's a ruffle on a sleeve or hem all the better. Clash accessories with gay abandon; bugger colour councillors and experiment. Don't believe the nonsense you'll hear about the British complexion not working with hot colours. There's more to life than a navy trouser suit.

Where to buy it

Style Police is particularly taken by Karen Millen's hot pink crochet dress with electric blue lace trim (pounds 89.95). That pounds 250, yellow, John Rocha georgette is the dress dreams are made of. It's very sheer, but Rocha always makes a modest slip for those who don't quite dare to bare. It always makes Style Police nervous when a magazine credit says "From a selection" as is the case with Copperwheat Blundell's yolk-yellow, silk dress with extravagant neck ruffle. But nobody does Forties chiffon gowns better than Forties designers. There are vintage stores in every major UK city but Style Police favours London's Steinberg & Tolkien; all the designers pillage its rails for inspiration as S&T has the richest seam of Forties classics.

Address

Copperwheat Blundell, at Liberty: 0171 734 1234.

John Rocha: 0171 838 0017.

Karen Millen: 01622 664032.

Steinberg & Tolkien: 0171 376 3660.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Exhibition Content Developer

    £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in South Kensington, this prestigi...

    Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

    £16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established managed services IT...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

    £15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...

    Recruitment Genius: Plant Fitter - Construction Industry

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This well established construction equipment d...

    Day In a Page

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003