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Behind the seams
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 07 - 10 - 2010


By Lubna Abdel-Aziz
Hurry, hurry, hurry. no time to dawdle or dilly-dally. Though it may not feel like it, autumn is in full swing, and cool weather, hopefully, is at our doorstep. What is the condition of your wardrobe? If you are one of those totally focused on your looks, then you probably have every shade, every style, and every trend, hanging neatly in your closet, ready to go at the first season's chill. On the other hand, if you lead a super-busy, multi-tasking life, read on. Perhaps we can be a source of inspiration for a glamorous, 2010/2011 winter season. We can help you create your own collection of fashion pieces, from necklines to heel-shapes. The one indispensible guide to remember is that the most beautiful look must transcend fashion, especially in today's faster than fast world. Create a style of your own "Style has no expiration date," style never goes out of style.
Unlike other artists, the fashion designer art is short lived and temporary, perhaps to be discarded at the end of every season. Where does he or she seek their inspiration, the appropriate shape, colour, fabric? Trends are found on the street, on the screen, in museums, malls, and sports arenas, in night clubs, restaurants, and college campuses. The secret is to give them what they already want with added polish and style. The economy has always had a strong influence on fashion, so has the environment. Fashion is often inspired by films or a film icon, such as Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly, the Beckham couple David and Posh, or a politician's wife, like Jacqueline Kennedy or Carla Bruni. This season however, designers found their inspiration on a war zone. The military look has been popular for the last few seasons, but this season the army leads the parade of fashion trends. The military look of 2010/2011 is no longer a touch of the military look in brass buttons and lapels judging from the various runways, it is a full-fledged army ready for combat. The Max Mara collection looked like a Russian army headquarters with trench coats and military jackets almost picked off some lieutenant's back. Kastchoch pants, knee-length boots, and wide leather belts provided the glamour for the collection. Burberry of London followed the same classic look of coats and military jackets, preferring the surprising colours of electric blue and green. Boots were thigh-high and the whole collection had a London grunge feel. It is London after all!
What more appropriate colour than khaki to blend with the military parade. Beige shades are also very trendy, particularly in camel, as seen at Lanvin and Chloe, or in nude shades at Gucci and Stella McCartney. Ivory white, seen on every runway, but never as icy as in the Chanel collection, Karl Lagerfeld, outdid himself, creating an iceberg setting with his myriad models in every shade of winter white, blending with the scenery. Camel; however, is the must-have colour this season, from cream to cappuccino. Other autumnal hues, like copper, gold, brown, or mahogany, mix well with camel. Red is another colour starring in this season's collections, most prominent at Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci and Prada. The elegant lady of fashion Carolina Herrera, also embraced red as the perfect colour for the season. Her collection, always chic and feminine, is a salute to the ladies of the 60s and 70s. John Galliano' collection for Dior was a mix of sharply tailored fitted jackets, jodphurs, lots of leather, and thigh high boots. Galliano, being Galliano, added frilly, flouncy, transparent, skirts and dresses for both day and night. Besides red and camel, steel-grey compliments both colours and is rapidly replacing black on the runway. Camel and grey, always a favourite mix, combine country life with city life, natural vistas with urban landscapes merging high technology with blossoming gardens. Besides neutrals, take your pick from Bordeaux as seen at Lanvin and Dior, and blue from cobalt to dark turquoise.
Tired of the short, tight, thigh revealing of the last few seasons, take heart, there is a definite downward movement of the hemline. To the knee and below, all the way to maxi-length, were featured in several fall collections, including Armani, Prada, Calvin Klein, and Dries van Noten.
Fur is no longer feared, hidden in storage from disapproving eyes and objecting mobs. It is out and about, prancing with leather, another feature of the winter collection. If you like a stiletto heal, find a pair of boots to match, and you will be stepping in high gear. They can be worn with anything from jeans to a cocktail gown. Pants are mostly flared as seen on the runways, but can also be tapered and wide-legged. The inspired flares of the 70s were seen in camel, Khaki and brown at Armani and Chloe.
Capes, ponchos, gilets, and braces are a top trend. Fur gilets are exquisite and the 50s-inspired flying jacket is all the rage for the younger set. What you end up wearing are not simply garments, but symbols of your person that resonate across social and cultural boundaries. The irresistible lure of the classics remains untouched and unblemished. Think of Audrey Hepburn, staring into Tiffany's window, in her iconic Givenchy black dress. Do not forget the gloves, another big item of the season. If you do not own ones, it is a good investment, besides they keep your fingertips warm, or if you prefer, they also come fingerless or lacy. Speaking of lacy, surely you have a black-laced dress hidden in your closet. Give it an airing. This darling fabric is ever so feminine and pops up every few seasons. This season, it shows how tough it can be, seen on purses and even wrist bangles. In accessories, brooches have re-appeared to provide a dramatic statement on a dress or coat.
Back to the classic simplicity is the personification of chic. Before Hepburn, Gilda (Rit Hayworth) rocked the world in another era and another simple black dress gloves included. If you opt to ignore the lure of fashion, stick to the tried and true classics, and forget the fuss and the hustle. One thing you must remember to wear is a smile, everyday, everywhere. It costs nothing, it cheers everyone around you, and it never goes out of style!
It is not only fine feathers that make fine birds
-- Aesop (sixth century BC)


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