Life and Style A model walks the runway during the Balmain show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2013

Balenciaga's spring/summer 2014 show plays out to thumping, bass-heavy and very, very loud beats... but only after four outfits

Designers making their marque on the fashion scene

Although its not quite a return to the logo-laden days of old, stylised prints and artistic emblems are now selling like hot cakes, says Naomi Attwood

Ruffle some feathers: Model wears skirt £45, shoes £60, riverisland.com

iStyle: Frill seekers

Forget Flamenco, this season those ruffles have been given a modern makeover, says Rebecca Gonsalves

Excess all areas: 'Mona von Bismarck once ordered 150 Balenciaga garments after her train derailed'

We've all had wardrobe disasters. Few of us, however, retire to our room for three days to recover. But few of us are Mona von Bismarck, who did just that when, in 1968, the great Cristóbal Balenciaga closed his couture house with the declaration that there was no one left to dress.

Alexander Fury: A bit threadbare? You must be British royalty

In the eighteenth century, the great British export was style. French aristocrats saw Britain as a land of freedom and adopted our stout, hardy wool and tweed country squire attire as a badge of allegiance to the Rousseau-ean rusticity and democracy embodied here.

Strides ahead: Say pants to party dresses

Whether patterned or plain, it's time to say pants to party dresses, says Rebecca Gonsalves

The best Christmas gifts for the sharp-dressed man

Main image: skull umbrella, £185, Liberty

Nicholas Ghesquiere to leave post as creative director at Balenciaga

Designer Nicholas Ghesquiere is to leave his post as creative director at Balenciaga.

Fashion Statement: Change is easier to make when there are past masters to follow

It's always difficult, stepping into someone else's shoes – especially when you have high arches. And it's even more difficult when those shoes have been worn for so long and with such panache by their previous owner.

Ready To Wear: No woman should ever be dictated to by fashion

What does the Independent woman wear?

Hi-ho silver: jacket £50, riverisland.com

Fashion's silver lining

There's a futuristic alternative to a golden glow this season. Just don't think of it as a runner-up in the fashion stakes, says Gemma Hayward

Easy as APC

It's an exciting new direction for the casually cult brand

Of all the slightly silly Olympic-themed paraphernalia we've seen recently, this rather charming patriotic paper Cake Top is our favourite. £3.50 from talkingtables.co.uk (Victoria sponge not included)

Selfridges re-launches womenswear department for the digital age

When Selfridges unveiled their newly appointed womenswear department at the beginning of the year, hopes were high.

Ready To Wear: The last thing we need after Christmas is serious fashion

Feeling liverish, as your granny used to say? The good news is that this is the one time of year when it is nothing short of uncouth to consider wearing anything remotely fashionable and, even more so, tight-fitting and/or fabulously transformative.

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Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
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Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

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The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
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Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
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Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
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Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

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60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

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Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones