Captain Moonlight's Notebook: Y-on Earth?

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Unaccustomed to paying more than a few quid for a pair of underpants, I was rather taken aback to learn that Chanel, the French fashion house, is about to put its version of men's Y-fronts on sale in London for pounds 80 - and there is a huge waiting list. Demand, I am told, is extraordinary. Perhaps this is the real sign that we are coming out of the recession.

The knickers are designed for women, but all the same] You can get a similar pair at the men's department of any Marks & Spencer for pounds 3.99. The Chanel Y-fronts were designed by Karl Lagerfeld for this year's spring/summer collection to 'conquer the last bastion of masculinity', the lady at Chanel told me. I didn't quite understand what she was getting at until she pointed out that from the very beginning in 1913 Coco Chanel had turned to menswear for inspiration and used cloth traditionally associated with men for her outfits.

Apart from the price, there is one other drawback. The manufacturer recommends that you dry-clean the underpants; they are made of cotton and Lycra, but the dye on the label might run. The Chanel woman added that, depending on your dry-cleaning bill, she expected Y-front wearers to wear knickers underneath. In Britain the pounds 80 jobs are likely to remain concealed. 'The weather, dear,' she said. In places where the temperature soars, such as the south of France, they have become what the trade calls 'fashion statements' and would be worn with 'open' dresses.

(Photograph omitted)