Style: This old thing? It's only Prada
Forget the models. The best fun at Fashion Week is staring at the media, says HERO BROWN
Sunday 26 September 1999
In contrast, to call the fashion pack's look "directional" doesn't do justice to the way in which half the wildlife from Tongariro National Park seemed to stampede down into South Kensington and onto the feet, backs, and handbags of London's style leaders this week.
This is all very well for serious style victims who don't mind looking daft if they can claim the fashion high ground in the process, but are we "normal" folk prepared to follow their example? Well, yes. Sort of. I think, for instance, that most of us will have already succumbed to at least one piece of faux (or otherwise) animal fur this season. I myself have a pair of furry clogs that my workmates have likened to a duo of hyperactive guinea pigs. (Be calm, animal lovers, they're not).
Even so, the driving force on the high street is moderation, a concept far removed from London Fashion Week. I'm telling you, it was a jungle out there. There was an almost obscene interbreeding of wild animal fur prints: zebra-style handbags resting on leopard print coats, or black fur boots growling at a faux- pony fur headscarf. Others, like the front row of Vogue-ettes had evidently decided there was safety in numbers, all wearing black and white pony fur Marni clogs, by far the most ubiquitous shoe of the day. (I'm not sure whether this makes the shoes hip or common.)
Other fashionistas were going hell for leather with the Urban Biker approach - tight black jacket, big boots, moustache like a Greek grandmother. So anyone yet to invest in "that" Gucci jacket - or more sensibly, a high street copy - take heart. Everybody was wearing them at London Fashion Week (this is a positive thing in fashion, I am learning) although one of the Elle fashion team warmed the cockles of my heart by eschewing the designer route for New Look's pounds 59.99 version. Looked good too. This style of jacket is likely to hang around for some time yet, especially given the (in my opinion) bonkers popularity of Prada's enormous new biker boots. They look like wellies to me, which could be a good thing as you can combine them with the newly chic sheepskin gilet for that Inner City Farmer buzz.
Accessories. Don't leave home without them. If you don't have a full- speed-ahead handbag - either furry, dangly or faux vintage - you might as well give up now. Designers are investing big-time in accessories (did you know 60 per cent of Gucci's business is now in accessories?) so it's obvious that they'll be pushing them on the catwalk, and that fashion editors will have first grab. Better make it Prada or Miu Miu though. I barely met anyone - even those dressed casually - who wasn't sporting a Prada bag or shoes.
The reason, according to one stylist: "Because these are the only Prada things they can afford." Unlike most of us, who can't afford any of them at all. Even so, I can see that this "accessorise, accessorise" idea is very appealing to the Every Woman. I shall dump my Reebok backpack forthwith.
I shall also be slavishly following this year's take on woollies, given that the pashmina is officially dead (I know this because I am about to buy one). Unfortunately, it was so hot during the LFW shows that, after early efforts to embrace winter with stripy scarves (75 quid? Get your mum to knit one) and funnel-neck sweaters, the casual gypsy look proved more popular during the week.
This was my favourite "direction", possibly because it signals a victory for natural flair over expensive cop-outs. Even Granny's old embroidered fringed tablecloth looked like it had an outing on several occasions.
Useless fashion tip (so I'm told): keep your legs bare. Everyone at LFW had their pins well and truly out, apparently because, among the ultra- avant-garde, there is to be no-tights nonsense this winter. That's right, girls, it's bare and bronzed right through drizzling January and February, until spring. (Are these people mad?).
As expected, there was some evidence of over-enthusiasm for this gypsy queen look. Jangly jewellery and strange floral hair pieces were pushing it a bit, although full marks to Marie Claire's Sarah Clark who had mixed it perfectly with a pink flamenco gypsy skirt and ethnic bag from Portobello, with those damned Marni clogs and a black leather jacket. This, if you're wondering, is the Wild Gypsy Animal Biker look. Not an easy one to pull off by all accounts.
Among all this sartorial elegance, the greatest moment of the day was undoubtedly when I collared one particularly stylish couple. I asked the girl who she worked for. Elle? Vogue? Marie Claire? "No, I'm just a stylist from Switzerland," she said. Wearing a grey felt fitted poncho (complete with strange hairpiece extending down the front), grey cotton long-sleeved top, and cut out pressed trousers over a black skirt (and accessorised with a pink silk bag) she looked, frankly, amazing. A flagrant case of designer spending frenzy, then. "No," she shrugged, "Apart from the skirt, I made all the clothes myself." And her friend? "I'm sorry to disappoint you," he smiled. "I'm wearing H&M, head to foot."
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