Elegance at the core

Lubna Abdel-Aziz, Tuesday 8 Oct 2019

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Audrey Hepburn

Here we are again. The days are getting shorter, the nights cooler.

The “falling leaves, drift by the window”, reminding us that autumn is in full bloom, which means winter is rushing in and warmer, newer, more fashionable clothes are necessary.

What have the fashion gurus in store for us, now that the whirlwind of the four major shows (Paris, Milan, London, New York) have folded?

If the world seems on the edge of collapse it matters little to fashion designers who keep going regardless. There may be a certain sensitivity towards the political situation, since they have added a little fantasy to cheer us up.

Uninspired by a sense of doom and gloom, designers have expressed a strong nostalgia to better days, like the end of the 1970s, the elegant 1980s and the fanciful 1990s. “Fashion at is best its best is usually more of a gentler progression of revisited ideas”, which sounds like good news as we probably own some of the season’s offerings.

Colour is usually dictated by the Panetone Institute, which this season starts its list with a whimsical colour, red pear, not too common and hard to define. The list continues with such fanciful names as nebulous blues, valiant poppy, crocus petal, etc. We shall ignore these instructions as did most designers.

They chose beige as their preferred colour. Colourless as it may be, it is neutral, earthy and goes with practically everything. There is also light blue, off-white, burgundy browns, mustard yellow or any shade of red. That should cover the red pear requirement.

Remember the big shoulders and long jackets that you have probably locked up for more than a decade? You did not get rid of them, did you? Always remember “everything old is new again”. Unlock them now, they are in. Tired of those tight pants that are so uncomfortable? Out with the comfortable loose pants, even the pleated ones. They are classy, stylish, malleable and even masculine, which is another of this season’s trend. Particularly stylish at Chloe’s they are easy, with a waist tied with a bow, reminiscent of a Grace Kelly look.

Speaking of waists, the cinched waist is very much in, which is a problem if you are over 40 and somehow waists get a little larger. A wide belt is the answer and the big, squared shoulder pads help the illusion of a tinier waistline.

One thing that you must add, unless you own one, is a big, black, trench coat. Once you wear it you will feel like Audrey Hepburn walking along the Seine. Though the trench is never out of style its popularity ebbs and flows. This season they are big with collars that almost look like a cape and are definitely a necessary item. Get it in any fabric as long as it is black — cinched at the waist, of course.

Puffer coats continue from last season, bulky but warm. The best was shown by Tony Burch, long and slimming somewhat.

There is a feather fever floating around, one we are sure to catch. It is the biggest trend this season, used without reserve. Shown on all the runways, it took the fashion world by storm. Hollywood glamour at its best. Throw it around your neck and you will need nothing else to make a fashion statement. Elie Saab could not show anything without feathers.

You think you cannot wear a jumpsuit? Yes, you can. Popular in the 1980s they are back with a vengeance for all day wear. Not one show was without several versions of this whimsical attire. Wear it to the office with a blazer, add some sparkle, heels and jewellery, off with the blazer, on to your upscale party.

Ruffles in winter. Not so ridiculous. Prancing on the catwalk were ruffles galore especially in gossamer-like fabrics like tulle and organza. Some were extreme, but Rodarte supplied romance like shimmering clouds in vibrant rainbow colours. It can also be added simply around the neck or cuffs.

See-through clothes, we refrain to go through, but who does not like knits for winter? Playful Missoni, classic Pringle have company this season with Molly Goddard’s multi-coloured sweaters, scarves, cardigans and even dresses.

Granted that leather is not for everyone, but if you have a perfect figure, acquire the Matrix look and pick black leather in any garment of your choice. Shown by Cavalli, Guy LaRoche and many more it got the biggest applause on the runway. How about a big, black, trench, leather coat, the utmost, like Bogart and Bacall?

We saw a good deal of checks, houndstooth at Chanel and Gucci — another retro homage. More classic inspirations — capes — looked so modern at Miu Miu, we predict the return of the cape.

Quilted handbags are trendy, so are “Baguette” bags, but the crocodile skin is the novelty.

Ascot collars, massive chains, sun-glasses, brooches and pearls, pearls, pearls are in for accessories.

Shoes are still bulky — sad. But smokey eyes are back — bedazzling.

Fashion involves seduction of the senses. It is a total look that must be suited to you, not to fashion. It is your own inner glow that is enhanced by fashion not someone else’s. It is not what we wear, but how we wear it. Fashion dictates, but our own style refines it.

Best advice: “Remove one item before you leave.”

Simplicity turns heads, and elegance is eternally seductive.


“One’s style is one’s signature, always.”

 Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

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