We cannot tarry a moment longer -- spring has sprung; one Easter down, one Easter to go, followed by the uniquely Egyptian Spring celebration "Sham El Nessim." As we take a whiff of the oncoming summer breezes, many of us are caught with our winter woollies. The heat already here, a visit to wardrobe is imperative. Of course, there are those dear organized souls, those ladies of leisure, bless them all, who are already planning their winter wardrobes. The rest of us, working girls and hands-on mothers of four or more, must get on with it -- now.
Say it with flowers
It is no longer a chore to learn about the season's highlights in fashion. So many sources are at our fingertips, between the resourceful internet, the countless TV fashion shows, the myriad fashion magazines, and the never ending articles of what's "in" and what's "out" like this column. No excuses are permitted, and we hope the following tips will see you through the long hot summer, in cool easy-to wear, feminine chic.
Flower power reigns. The dominant summer print is various floral patterns that burst into bloom right before your very eyes. From tiny, delicate sprigs, to vibrant super-bold blossoms, a virtual garden display of giant peonies, flaming azaleas, tropical hibiscus and exotic poppies, to delicate tea roses, smiling Gerber daisies, and whispering baby's breaths -- a virtual mixed bouquet of fragrances, shapes and hues. Every designer seems to have lost himself in his own secret garden. The striking blossoms are Stella McCartney's strong suit, loud and energetic, rather than romantic and dreamy. Pick the bloom that matches your mood and personality. Spring romance is in the air bringing with it its special trend that stands side by side with the enchanting flower power. The romantic trend was strong at Chloe, Prada and Alberta Ferretti, who showed light as air, fairy-like dresses that floated down the catwalk. Sheer is necessary for that frothy, foamy, feeling, such as fly-away chiffon, airy tulle, or sheer organza. The fabrics' transparency gives the impression of lightness, elegance and movement. It works in layers and the interplay of light adds dimension. Modesty is still de rigner, so undergarments are essential. Choose from sporty body suits, tonal camisoles or 50s style lingerie, as long as they do not expose too much. Designers are steering away from the bad-girl image, harkening back to times when ladies were ladylike.
The floral motif goes hand-in-hand with the season's Eco-awareness topic, across all fields. Everything is coming up roses, daisies and daffodils, not to mention earth tone neutrals, and shades of green -- from apple to avocado. Even blue jeans are turning green and they are flying off the shelves in record numbers.
If you are not fond of carrying a garden on your back like me, then the annual Safari look is for us. A supporting performer almost every summer, the Safari trend this season takes first billing as it journeys in style, displaying a first class status of luxury and refinement. This costume, designed by old colonialists for maximum comfort during their African adventures, is finding new soft expressions in shape and texture. Imagine wearing silks and chiffon in the wild! Shoulders are structured rather than over-padded and the cinched waist goes well with the season's preferred form. Safari chic swept down the catwalk at Versace in khaki and neutrals, sprinkled with bright oranges which looked good enough to eat. "Simplicity and Versace sound like mutually exclusive terms," but Gianni's sister makes it happen this summer. Her striking use of solid colours shows the degree of sophistication that Donna has reached. I never thought I would wear anything by Versace, but I would have grabbed several outfits off the catwalk, if I could.
Two-piece or layered dressing makes perfect summer sense both functional and wise. A little cardigan or a lightweight coat comes in handy during cool summer nights. Spring skirts are feminine, flared and flirty. They are also short and full. A swishy, swirly suit cinched at the waist and cut high at the hem, with a snug cropped jacket, as seen at Gucci, will carry you through many summer outings.
The nautical theme is another hardy annual thrust under the spotlight for this summer's pleasure. Naughty, natty, nauticals in red, white and blue stripes bring the seashore to you if you cannot go to it. Wide-legged mariner pants sets you sailing on the high seas. Jean Paul Gaultier paraded zebra crossing style bands down the runway, but Brit designer Mathew Williams added a fabulous flash of citrus that is most refreshing.
Beside florals and citrus shades of lemon and lime, some subtle ultra-violet shades stand out as both romantic and sophisticated. Sugary shades of purple as seen at Ferretti's, allows you to be noticed without being glaring. Ebony and ivory are always a summer hit; choose light silky fabrics like crepe de chine, silk jersey cotton and linen.
Accessories finish the look and there are many to choose from. If one item is your limit, make it a huge clutch-handbag, the bigger, the better.
Heels are so artfully high, not many will find the courage to venture into them. If you do, choose from wedges, gladiator boots, or peep-toes. Decorative extras are bundles of bangles in brass or wood. Uptown turbans, super- sized or super-small eye-wear for a quirky belt cinched at the waist puts a fine finish to the season's look.
The principles of fashion creation and design evolve with the changing tastes of our society. Do we inspire the designers, or are we dictated to by a select few? It seems irrelevant, as somehow we go hand in hand in perfect union -- most times. This season's essentials should appeal to most with a minimum fuss. Whether you are romantic favouring ruffles and ribbons or a nature lover clad in florals, or an adventurous spirit all ready for the hunt in the heart of Africa, let your choice express your personality. Do not forget to look up at the stars that send an extra glitter on a cloudless summer night. Stars are the season's emblem, wear them around your neck, on your ear lobes or wherever. See stars, stars, and more stars. Never forget that more is less, and the older you get, even less.
In these dark days of economic restraint fashionistas can look forward to a soothing saunter through a Chelsea flower show, or just a lazy promenade in a modestly blooming garden. Undoubtedly, they will do it with elegance and style as they embrace the spring season, laden with promise and hope.
Fashions, after all, are only induced epidemics
-- George Bernard Shaw (1856 -- 1960)