Style: The future looks white

What will you be wearing in 1998? For those who want to be at the cutting edge, Tamsin Blanchard makes a fashion forecast. Photographs by Ben Elwes and

Niall McInerney.

What's in the wardrobe for the year ahead? It will be bright or white, pleated, backless, held together by sporty drawstrings, top-heavy, with exaggerated shoulders, or simply plain and luxurious.

Making such predictions does not require the help of a crystal ball - just a flick through the catwalk pictures from the shows that took place in Paris, Milan, London and New York last autumn.

Those clothes will begin to filter into the shops in February, while the high street will have already been inspired to "interpret" some trends as they hit the designer rails of Bond Street and Sloane Street. Come autumn, the trends that were set on the catwalks last October and November will have completely entered the mainstream and - the retailers hope - you will be wearing many of them.

Part of a fashion designer's role is to be a bit of a clairvoyant, to look into the future and give the consumer what she wants before she knows it herself. The fashion world is always at least six months ahead of itself; right now, most designers will have completed their collections for autumn/ winter '98, and will be thinking seriously about spring/ summer '99. Before they know it, they'll be working on ideas for spring/ summer 2000.

Strangely, self-consciously futuristic collections seem to have passed us by; the hi-tech, synthetic fabrics that were dominant in the mid-Nineties have been replaced by natural fibres, the more luxurious the better. If designers could have their absolutely fabulously Utopian way, the world would be dressed in cashmere instead of wool, silk instead of cotton, and kid leather instead of PVC. And with advances in fabric technology - a touch of Tencel here, a whisper of Tactel there, the odd measure of Lycra - our clothes will stretch and breathe as we do, making them the ultimate in both luxury and comfort. They may even be machine-washable, too.

Looking to the near future, however, and the next six months, the fashion forecast looks bright and sunny - it had better be, or we'll all be left to freeze to death in fine and floaty fabrics, and dresses without backs.

The only storm clouds will appear in a flurry of fur, a material that is increasingly being used, even for the warmer months, by the youngest and hippest designers, including Marc Jacobs in New York, who has made simple pieces out of what he calls "cashmink" - a mixture of cashmere and mink - and John Galliano in Paris, who is also partial to a touch of mink or fox. As fur regains acceptance in the fashion world, so, too, it will creep back into mainstream fashion, on to trims for coats and hats, and not just for winter. It is all part of the focus on luxury fabrics; the only hope is that the ever-fickle fashion world will eventually react against it, and by the year 2000 the anti-fur movement will win out, if only because fashion designers have seen it, done it and become bored with it.

The prevailing winds for spring will blow minimalist designs on to maximalist fabrics. As usual, Calvin Klein in New York has hit the nail on the head with simple sportswear made out of cloth that is the closest some people will ever get to heaven. Double-faced cashmere tracksuit tops and lighter- than-air dresses of billowing parachute silk are all any woman needs this spring to make her mark comfortably and efficiently. Trouble is, she also needs to take out a bank loan to do so, and unless you are in the know, or happen to be invited to stroke the sleeve, you would be forgiven for thinking she had shopped at Gap and bought the entire outfit for around pounds 50 instead of pounds 500.

A poster by Durham Constabulary
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

    £40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer

    £35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

    Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine