Dear Giorgio Armani: Please, please design us something red . . . . we pasty Brits pale into insignificance in beastly, boring beige, says the Independent's fashion writer

Tamsin Blanchard
Monday 16 May 1994 23:02

Look what you've gone and done. Ever since you started designing in 1975, beige has been your trade-mark colour - now everybody is using it. Robert De Niro might look like a million lire dressed in his impeccable beige suits, but what about the rest of us? Beige is not a shade that goes well with sun-starved British pastiness. So why do we now have to look at it in every shop on the high street? Why, more to the point, are so many of us wearing it? Let's face it, if you are not De Niro, beige looks at best like sackcloth, at worst like there has been an accident with a mug of tea.

Is this some Mediterranean plot to make the British look as drab as our dreary weather, or our equally dreary Prime Minister? It is a bit like that advertisement: 'You've been Tango'd'. The joke going round your atelier must be: 'You've been beiged'. Even Eric Clapton has been beiged by you, Mr Armani. Whatever happened to sex, drugs and rock'n'roll? Now we have rock stars who are not only old enough to be grandparents, but who look as though they are dressed for a day's work in the City followed by an evening of wine tasting. At least when your old mate Gianni Versace dressed Clapton there was a touch of good old-fashioned razzle dazzle.

When you do beige, Giorgio (and you have been turning out 101 versions of the beige suit since before Clapton knew about designer fashion), the result is tasteful - in a Sophia Loren, Italian kind of way. When the British high street does it (to death), the result is blander than Marks & Spencer on a rainy day.

OK, Giorgio, so we cannot hold you personally responsible for making the majority of the British population look as though they have crawled out from under a stone. But how about leading us out of this sea of biscuit with some shocking pink, or even some Routemaster red? (Although London's buses seem to be having an attack of the beiges, too, even if it is tinged with yellow.)

For the moment, we will just have to make do and marvel at the infinite number of different shades of caf au lait we have on offer. Buff, camel, cinnamon, coffee, cream, cru, fawn, khaki, mushroom, neutral, natural, oatmeal, sand, brown, off-white, unbleached, straw, stone, olive the possibilities are endless. But do not be fooled. They all have one thing in common: the strange absence of colour that is beige.

Anyway, I hope you are enjoying the warm weather in Milan. No doubt you will be off somewhere hot and sunny for the summer, somewhere with an cru landscape because the sun will have drenched it and bleached it that way. When you return to Milan, inspired by sun-baked sand, spare a thought for us Brits whose temporary tans will have faded back to pastiness.

Yours in anticipation,

Tamsin Blanchard

(Photograph omitted)

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