Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

The designers who think sparkle is for life, not just for Christmas

At this time of year, our minds naturally turn to sparkle. I say naturally but really it's the most far-fetched thing on earth, as we spend Christmas Day stagnating on the sofa in our trackie bums while the wind blows a gale outside and the sun refuses even to rise.

Nevertheless, designers' autumn collections are never short of a bit of razzmatazz for the "party season" (which is what the people who aren't on the sofa call this time of year). So it's even more interesting, then, that their summer collections should be chock-full of it too.

Bauble-encrusted cocktail dresses with stiff and ecumenical-looking carapaces at Fendi; tinsel-ish holographic organdie wrapped as tops, tunic dresses worn with shorts and flaring bell skirts in Raf Simons's debut at Dior; even studded metallic headpieces – for all the world like Stig of the Dump meets Pimp My Ride – worn with sporty space-age separates at Junya Watanabe.

Our obsession with sparkle is no modern affliction; men have been magpies since Midas. There was a pair of gold-soled slippers from the first century AD in the British Museum's Afghanistan exhibition last year. Sparkle is status, at its best in small glimpses rather than swathed all over – the undersole of an otherwise puritanical pilgrim shoe by Miu Miu; between the pleated folds of Roberto Cavalli's blinged-up pteruges-style skirts. Glimmering threads lurk in Lurex, a retro yarn making quite the comeback this season, thanks to Meadham Kirchhoff; shimmering silks and lamé at Viktor & Rolf and Alexander Wang.

In the past, designers have worked with metals more literally, to achieve sparkle and shine: chain-mail and tectonic dresses by Pierre Cardin, for example, and the non-ironic use of lamé by Halston at Studio 54.

For spring, Burberry's Christopher Bailey dressed models in that fabric, and they shimmered on the catwalk like sweetie wrappers.

Which, let's be honest, is as close as most of us will come to sparkle this party season: the Quality Street tin and its contents.

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