Style Police: Your pad or mine?

Duvet dressing is going to make it a warm and cosy winter. JAMES SHERWOOD reports from the comfort of his quilt
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Indy Lifestyle Online
If you're anything like Style Police, then the total eclipse served one purpose: for a few seconds you could cram new season Gucci into your bag and make for the shop door. There's only one snag. Even one of Louis Vuitton patent leather oversize shoppers won't be big enough to half inch the first big buy of the season: duvet dressing.

Once again, the weather has reverted to type - apocalyptic British autumn. So unless you're still thinking of a holiday, it's safe to say it's autumn/winter from here on in. You'll witness a lot of mud-slinging in Style Police this season, but let's not start on a downer, unless we're talking the duck-down padded pieces that are saying "Buy me now - bugger the mortgage".

When Style Police first saw Gianfranco Ferre's autumn/winter collection, it took us back to childhood. Remember the times you pulled a sickie from school and your mum wrapped you up in a king-size duvet? Can anything compare with a cocoon of marshmallow-soft quilt? Ferre doesn't seem to think so. He sent Stella Tennant down the runway wrapped in a floor-length off-white quilt coat. Ferre told Vogue, "Padding is light and comfortable. You can wear it over a T-shirt, a high neck sweater or an evening dress if you like. It's the perfect way to wrap up this winter."

The duvet dressing story went into chapter two when Ghost designer Tanya Sarne overlaid tulle on to a quilted full skirt and Jean-Paul Gaultier interpreted the couture quilt skirt in layered oyster satin. Duvet dressing is essentially comfort clothing: light, warm and unbelievably tactile. It is also a sensible response to the dreaded "What are we going to wear in Y2K?" question. No, we're not besotted with the Seventies disco-chick chic, nor the skin-tight silver computer circuit dresses at Givenchy. But the feel-good quality of quilts reassures us that life isn't going to be scarey next year. Artsy-craftsy quilting nods to fashion's past while the feather-light techno fabrics used in Ferre, Hussein Chalayan and Ghost duvet dresses look forward.

How to wear it

You're all thinking any kind of padding blows you up to Michelin man proportions. But what was the staple street piece we all wore last winter? Yep, the sleeveless zip-front padded jacket. The designers have simply taken the quilt story to phase two. Style Police loves Gaultier's duvet ball gown skirt worn with a severe black polo neck sweater but we can't really see you swishing down the high street dressed like a latter-day Anne of Cleves. Let's introduce a bit of moderation.

Because knee-length biker boots are going to be it this season, you're going to see skirts stop at mid-calf or ankle. Padded skirts work when they are either slightly A-line or asymmetric. Padded jackets need to be either waist-high wraps like Gianfranco Ferre's stole coat, or down to the ankle. But with quilt coats you've got to make sure they're cut to fit. Style Police doesn't want to see any ribbed Yardie puffas.

Where to buy it

Gianfranco Ferre's quilt coats are the Platinum Amex of duvet dressing. Style Police called the Ferre boutique in London only to be told by a woman with a Mafia widow voice that the new season isn't in and she didn't know the price. Hmm.

Meanwhile, we love Sportmax because it's got real with the duvet dressing trend. Their snowboard quilt pants in black or cream are pounds 120 and totally street. Their mid-calf pencil skirt quilted with pink and blue flower embroidery (pounds 125) is as light as the froth on a latte. An extravagant ankle-length padded khaki maxi coat (pounds 420) works with a detachable knitted overlay.

If you want to be really clever, then borrow a sprog for camouflage and wheel it off to your local Mothercare. Complementing the quilt story is a slew of wrapping and shrouding blanket-cut coats, wraps and capes. Make your own Ferre out of Mothercare's fabulous collection of pastel 100 per cent cotton quilted cot blankets. Swathe them round your shoulders or fold them into a funnel-neck scarf. At pounds 22.99 a throw, cot blankets are the Style Police tip to replace the pashmina.

Address book

Ghost (tel: 0181 960 3121).

Gianfranco Ferre (tel: 0171 581 8736).

Hussein Chalayan at Liberty (tel: 0171 734 1234).

Jean-Paul Gaultier at Galerie Gaultier (tel: 0171 584 4648).

Mothercare (tel: 0171 381 6387).

Sportmax (tel: 0171 287 3434).

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