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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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 23 January 2015
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us