Hippie days are here again

The hippie was reborn for the Nineties yesterday at the opening of the spring ready-to-wear collections in Milan. Dolce e Gabbana, one of the fastest- selling Italian labels, said their creations were for 'a hippie of high fashion'.

Madonna, flashing a new gold cap on a tooth, certainly loved it. Her new fashion accessory is said to be inscribed with the initials 'DP' - standing for Dita Parla, an alias she has used when booking into hotels. The pop star, accompanied by a phalanx of bodyguards, was letting no one close enough to confirm the speculation.

But the accessories on the catwalk were equally colourful. The new hippies have trawled through London's Camden market and several dozen oriental souks picking up everything that came to hand. The models wore long strings of pearls and multi- coloured beads, big floppy hats and head ribbons.

They dressed in flower-power chic: floral print, trumpet-flare trousers, shirts with oversized cuffs and collars, and brocade and patchwork jackets in a dazzling spectrum of colours.

Kate Moss, the new teenage supermodel from Croydon, south London, made her catwalk debut, wearing five inch (13cm) gold platforms to bring her up to the height of the other models. Designers are so keen to employ her services that they are making up special outfits for the petite newcomer.

The cross-cultural feel so prevalent in fashion for the Nineties was manifest. Dolce e Gabbana travelled to Los Angeles, Turkey, Mexico and renaissance Florence, whence they returned with patchwork prints that cut up Botticelli's Primavera and The Birth of Venus.

The idea is that no specific influence dominates, or the look becomes merely pastiche. The designers described their look as 'travelling around with the world on one's back'.

The big difference with the hippies of the Sixties and the Seventies can be summed up in one word: stretch. Thanks to the new generation of stretch fabrics, wide-lapelled, double-breasted jackets can hug the contours of the body. Even in pin-striped trouser suits, Dolce e Gabbana's women remain defiantly all-woman.

(Photograph omitted)