Belfast Fashionweek: What's hot & what's not for this season
Belfast Fashionweek is in full swing at the moment and it's become a tradition in this column that I share a few insights into what the new season has in store.
I am the Tele's catwalk correspondent after all, so you might as well get your money's worth out of me. So here's a rundown of what's hot and what's not, for Autumn/Winter 16/17, with a few personal opinions - positive or otherwise - thrown in for good measure.
In the fickle world of fashion, what goes around often comes back around. However there is one retro look that goes a bit further back than any of us will recall. In this case, it's the Renaissance all over again. We're talking early Renaissance, 15th century to be a bit more precise, where the female silhouette was long and slim and before the introduction of the giant hooped skirts of the Elizabethan period (thank God! Imagine getting onto the bus in a farthingale! You'd get charged for two seats...) If you can't imagine the look, think Game of Thrones. That's Cersei and Sansa, rather than White Walkers and Wildlings.
In terms of modern fashion this translates into lots of gloriously decadent fabrics such as velvets, devore, chenille, silk damask, Ottoman and brocade, so it will be a definite favourite for the upcoming party season and for Seasonal evening wear. Colours in those days were limited to what dyes were available, so we associate Renaissance with rich deep colours of midnight blue, ruby red, emerald green, purple and burgundy, with embroidered or woven highlight in silver, gold and pewter.
Bell sleeves, bishop sleeves and lace-up corsets go with the look too, but don't attempt the latter if you're overweight or you could end up looking like a Christmas pantomime dame.
As for outerwear, it's all been very cloak-and-dagger on the catwalks for a while, with swishing capes, throws and ponchos appearing everywhere for Autumn. This time around the look has reincarnated as the short detachable "capelet" - like a stole but it fastens in place across the shoulders. We're talking full Sherlock Holmes style, but without the deerstalker and pipe. It's a great way of adding an extra layer and it also balances out narrow shoulders or a pear-shaped figure.
Pinstripes are also making a comeback for women, both for casual and workwear. But just so you don't appear too manly in this alpha-male staple, it looks best worn with a flouncy or silky accessory such as a printed silk scarf or a lace camisole.
Another masculine-inspired trend for women is full-body sportswear combos, such as the Formula One boilersuit complete with gaudy logos; Tour de France cycling Lycra (ewww ... really? Yes, I'm afraid so) in lurid colours; jockey jackets in bright clashing shades of silky satin and - the most extreme of all - MOTO GP leathers complete with reinforced quilting at the knees and elbows plus lots of buckles, studs and zips. The helmet is optional, although visor sunglasses do complete the look.
Hands up who remembers patent leather when it was at the height of fashion in the sixties? I certainly do, as it was banned from my (convent) school because the nuns said it "reflects your knickers for all the world to see". Well, nuns everywhere will be horrified to discover that patent is making a huge comeback this winter - not just in shoes, but also boots, bags, hats, belts and, most especially, raincoats. Meanwhile, the traditional navy or camel overcoats with big collars, a buckled belt and double-breasted buttons are also reappearing.
That's just a few of the movers and shakers on the current catwalks, but there is one look that everyone can do and it's called the "eclectic miss-match", whereby you just throw lots of different styles together and hope for the best. Think of the likes of Helena Bonham Carter, who's been doing that for years. But if you want to be REALLY fashionable, what about an outfit combining a Renaissance velvet lace-up bodice, fluorescent Lycra cycling Speedos, patent leather studded boots and a pinstripe jacket? And Bob's your proverbial.
Third time lucky for our national treasures
Two high profile women, both notoriously unlucky-in-love - Katie Price and Cheryl Cole - were in the news this week. Well, there's nothing new there then, as they're in the news every week. But at last it seems things are turning out well on the romantic front for both our rough diamond national treasures. First up is the continuing, but as yet unconfirmed, rumours that Cheryl might be pregnant with her first child with her toy-boy prodigy, Liam Payne. Whay-aye lass that'd be proper good news, though but! Apparently she's been wearing looser clothes than usual and appearing to hide her abs rather than flashing them like she usually does. Let's hope she is and that, between them, they produce the perfect camera-ready, celebrity-savvy accessory! Meanwhile, Katie Price has fought back from rumours of a one-night stand with reality star Scotty T, by announcing that she's planning to prove them wrong by renewing her marriage vows to husband Kieran Hayler...for a third time. Bless. That must mean that she loves this husband three times more than mere mortals. Why else would she fly to Barbados with him and a whole platoon of paparazzi?
This week I'll be...
Mostly be celebrating my birthday. Fifty-bloody-three: how on earth did that happen! I'll be marking the occasion by treating myself to a trip to the cinema - and not just any old cinema, either; Dundonald Omniplex has recently introduced fabulous new leather recliner seats that are the ultimate in comfort and luxury; in fact, you just want to curl up and never leave. There's also a state-of-the-art Maxx auditorium which features a giant curved screen, a bit like an IMAX, with a sound system that is so intense it has to be heard to be believed. It really takes the silver screen to another level altogether. It's slightly more expensive, but hey, it's my birthday and I'm worth it! Aren't I?