Style Police: Pink is the colour, Gucci is the name

That's another fine colour they've got us into... but not from head to foot, if you're wise

WAS EVERY fashion editor at the Spring/Summer '98 collections wearing rose-tinted glasses? If not, they've seen the future and it's pink. "Colour is back! Goodbye to black" proclaims the cover of Harper's Bazaar. Catwalk shots of John Galliano's fuschia, flowery silk tulle gowns and candyfloss-pink marcelle wave wigs heralded "the new femininity". Fashion editors clucked like maiden aunts round British new boy Matthew Williamson's hot pink and neon clash dresses. A "new" colour like pink is as welcome to the fashion press as a virgin bride to Dracula.

But the days when a fashion editor can declare "Think pink!" and the Great British Woman nods her head meekly have gone. And there ain't no thing as a new colour. We know fashion has a short memory but cast your mind back to this time last year. Tom Ford's Gucci collection was slated for featuring black in spring. Spring was floral, ruffled, transparent and pastel pretty. You sure as hell didn't see any double Gs on the sale rails, but limp, chiffon, ruffled blouses hung at half mast and half price.

The gossip from the catwalk front line, Style Police hears, is that this year's spring collection from Gucci "didn't reinvent the wheel". Precisely. On-the-knee black pencil skirts, sharp little black tanks and sheer black tops gave the few flashes of candy pink and ice-blue cigarette pants and skirts an edge. Our girl in the Gucci Sloane Street store says, "If you look closely at the pink duchess satin skirts you will see they are shot with grey. You're not going to get sugared almond pink at Gucci. We saw Gucci woman marching on from last season in a sophisticated progression. The touches of pink and ice blue are sharper against jet black."

Of course we're slightly bored by grey flannel suiting and the ubiquitous black. We want a colour flash for Spring. But do you really want to retire your gunmetal grey pant suit or best black jacket from the autumn collections and invest in head-to-toe panther pink? Pretty slip dresses and delicate little embroidered cardis are for leggy teenagers with Riviera tans.

Look for a piece of pink to give your transitional autumn to spring wardrobe pizzazz. Patrick Cox's spring frock-chic collection has got the balance right. His fuschia wet-look satin cigarette pants (pounds 130), black wet-look satin knee-length skirt and boxy, belted jacket (pounds 355) and black leather slit skirt (pounds 265) will move your wardrobe seamlessly towards spring. Williamson's hot pink pencil is a prime target for high street copies and Valentino's ghostly pale pink suiting is a softer option against grey. Fashion writer Angela Buttolph says, "Test pinks by trying a lipstick or nail gloss in the shade you want to wear. Pink works as a detail, underlining an outfit rather than walking into a room before you do." It makes perfect sense to buy a key seasonal piece in pink. For the spring shoe with a slice two-inch kitten heel, try Anello & Davide's nubuck court (pounds 199), which can be made to order in pink. Perfection.

It doesn't take much vision to sit through hundreds of catwalk shows, identify the most popular colour and call it a trend. It's like finding a new piece of the jigsaw and congratulating yourself without taking the time to find its place in the wider picture. Colour needs a softly softly approach. It must never be blanket coverage. It must not conflict with every other piece in your wardrobe. And if in doubt, go Gucci.

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