Sunday, 4 July 2010


So the maxidress spirit goes on into autumn. This, I reckon, is a good thing. Any day now, in reaction to the long sweeping skirts of the summer, skirts will go micro-mini again – that trend which suits precisely 2% of the population.

Here’s what designer Erdem says about skirts for a/w 2010: ‘I loved the casualness of a boyish jumper and a long satin skirt. It felt modern and right; effortless and utterly chic.' In a season when other options are faux fur, capes and – yawn – the gloomy old parka, this mode of laidback glamour sounds wonderfully appealing. Dries van Noten always gets this look bang on; I have a long satin skirt bought from the Designer Warehouse Sales* in King’s Cross more than ten years ago and it has stood the test of time brilliantly, as all his clothes do (remember when they sold at Whistles?).

Dries van Noten, a/w 2010. Photo: Marcio Madeira /

I’ve always wondered if those websites that enable you to buy direct from the States actually work. I read about a while ago but have only just got round to trying it out, ordering (purely for research purposes, of course) a T by Alexander Wang asymmetric black jersey dress at $140, the equivalent of £97 (rather than the £140 it costs here). I ordered it online on a Tuesday afternoon – and amazingly, it arrived on the Thursday morning (and international postage is free). The only downside is that you have to pay a customs charge on delivery, which varies according to the cost of the item; for the $140 dress I had to pay £28. But it’s still a little cheaper overall, the service is super-efficient and they have a wide selection of stock on offer. And the dress is fantastic: light enough to wear in the summer, bias-cut to flatter curves and as soft as a second skin. In the winter it’ll be great with a cashmere jumper (see First-class cashmere, below right) and big boots. I’m hooked.

Alexander Wang's effortlessly wearable luxe jersey pieces feel confidently modern without shouting about it. These are clothes that will feel and look good for years (handwashing will help; well, there has to be a downside). In a way, long bias-cut skirts and dresses in a low-key, light fabric are what Ghost did so well for years: in magazine articles about the best clothes to take on holiday, everyone from travel editors to celebs always raved about the ease and beauty of a Ghost dress. No wonder Wang was the only name to escape unblemished from Sex and the City 2 (bar Mr Big, who only gets better with age): his fresh young take on clothes stood out from that grim procession of contrived, unflattering outfits.

* DWS have always been some of London’s very best designer sales. The next sales start on September 17 in a new location near Holloway Rd/Finsbury Park tube, with womenswear and then menswear (including names like Paul Smith, Phillip Treacy and Hamnett) at huge discounts. It was always a trek to get there, but always worth it.

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