Al-Ahram Weekly Online   23 - 29 March 2006
Issue No. 787
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Lubna Abdel-Aziz

Summer winds

Spring has sprung in all its splendour, covering the earth with green grasses, budding leaves and a million coloured fragrant blossoms. Birds serenade beauteous Earth with their sweetest songs, and "a young man's fancy, lightly turns to thoughts of love", while a young woman's fancy eagerly turns to her season's wardrobe.

Keira Knightley in hip-hugging Roland Mouret

Our designers have already laid out their carefully conceived Spring/Summer outlines, way back in early autumn, but we were otherwise busy, doing Autumn/Winter stuff. We can tarry no longer -- time to plan for the "lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer", that often seem endless. If only it were Spring all year round! Well. it is not, so look on the bright side, the sunny- summer side, of warm toasty days, gold sandy beaches, azure blue skies, clear quiet waters and balmy moonlit nights. Plenty of Fashion ideas are available for every taste, size, age and inclination. Let us sample our choices, and choose only what suits us best:

COLOUR: There is less colour than usual, but what care we about colour when the classic LBD is the hottest trend. We are celebrating the 80th birthday of the "Little Black Dress" since Mademoiselle Coco first introduced it in 1926. Trim it with a white flower, belt, handbag or gloves, and you are stepping in high style. If black is king, white is queen, and together they are awesome and just what the designers ordered for the season. Combine solid black with white, solid white with black, or rock in checks, stripes, polka dots or prints. Other minor royals, like blues, golds and purples, are seeking their place in the summer sun, but it is the blushing pastel tones of pink that are holding their own. White is getting some competition from blush nude, which ranges from creamy buff, frappé rose, to pale lilacs in bloom.

FABRIC: Fashion's fabric of choice is Lace. Preferred by the style élite, for day, night and after midnight, together with its brothers and sisters, eyelet, "broderie anglaise", crochet, laser cutouts and guipure, all popular among fashionistas, like Uma Thurman, who looked radiant in a whitewash duster coat in gorgeous guipure. Other summer fabric favourites are the standards, chiffon, organdie, semi-sheer silks and muslin.

STYLE: Demure and ladylike is the discipline of the day. Even overworked designers have come to realise that in this mad and messy world of ours, some grace and order would be welcome. The carefree Boho [Bohemian] and Russe looks are still around, but have given way to a more orderly and well-groomed trend, Edwardian elegance. Ultra-feminine styles, fuller skirts, pleats, flared, tulip or debutante shapes, that have almost been invisible since the 60s, are sitting pretty this summer. Big belts are a summer must, accentuating that new fashionable body zone -- the waist. Volume fullness is rapidly gaining acceptance, as well as shorty shorts, long or narrow, even culottes are exciting the younger set. Swinging minis, A-line dresses and space age looks, take us back in time to the glamorous 60s. Our favourites are the feminine tops with cascades of ruffles, graceful, billowy skirts, drainpipe, or pencil-tight sheaths. Relax, take a rest from the dizzying pace of the new millennium, dream of bygone days of the 1950s and bygone rapture of Rita Hayworth.

Voted hottest designer, Roland Mouret's hour-glass dress is the most recherché item for the world's most beautiful people, like Nicole Kidman and Halle Berry.

ACCESSORIES: No more bare pelvics, this is the season of the waist. Totally ignored in previous seasons, you may need a few push-ups to trim it down to size, for those colossal waist- hugging belts, in patent leather, satin, ribbons and bows. The outsized bag, heavy with details, pockets, buckles or metal trims, continues its meteoric rise. Shiny patent is the desired texture for bags and shoes. If you are in the market for summer shoes, and you had better be, put away your sandals and buy a wedge heel, platforms or flats. The wedge is the coolest hot trend and if you can afford only one pair, make it a glossy patent with a chunky wooden heel, if you can navigate in them. Ethnic jewellery is on the wane, but big beads are still big. Skirt lengths range from maxi to mini, mainly settling around the knees for maximum comfort and ease.

PANTS: have struggled for half a century to find a secure place in our wardrobes, and will not to be pushed aside by the little chic dress. They have been seen strutting on the runways in silks, chiffons, flared bottoms or skinny, skinny legs. How can we enjoy any summer without a pair of white pants!

MEN: The two-button single breast is the star of the season for men, and the blazer jacket comes in many pastel shades, including lilac. Do not laugh, only a few years ago, a pink shirt put us into hysterics. Shirt colours are now even bolder, and stripes and checks remain the favourite summer pattern.

Key pieces to update your summer wardrobe: A full skirt, ruffled blouse, tulip dress, wedge shoes, big patent handbag, wide buckled belt, Lord Byron poet blouse in white, pencil tight skirt in black, a pair of oversized sunglasses in a juicy hue. Simple hair, preppy pony tail, elegant chinon or tumbling curls, and a paler, barely there, natural make-up for day, or strong geranium lips on a glowy skin for evenings, and you will be the smartest summer chic chick.

The truth is, our love affair with fashion is profound and everlasting, and fashion is fickle and fleeting, and we must seize the moment for beauty's beatified bliss. The summer wind will soon come blowing in, let us be armed and ready to ride the ephemeral wind.

After all, if Spring is here, can Summer be far behind!

Summer set lip to earth's bosom bare,

And left the flushed print in a poppy there.

Francis Thompson


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