October 20 2010
Lucia van der Post
You’ve probably noticed that fashion has come over all demure and ladylike. It’s as if the influence of the blessed Phoebe Philo, emanating from that most ladylike of brands, Céline, where she reigns supreme, has been felt even in the realms of the high street.
Whether this is behind the sudden rash of extremely beguiling black dresses I know not, but suffice it to say that this winter, black suddenly seems more desirable than ever. Designers have found yet more ways to reinvent many a fashionista’s favourite colour, and the best of them remove the severity by adding a bit of see-through chiffon, lace, or some enchanting black silk flowers, while at the same time avoiding that other danger – vampishness.
What set me on this train of thought was coming upon MaxMara’s delicious black coat and dress, each piece enlivened with some beautifully worked petals. The kimono sleeve coat is in duchesse satin and has some organza petals on its sleeves, while the matching dress has organza petals on its cap sleeves. They have to be bought together (£965) but these are forever clothes that could go almost anywhere (except perhaps a wedding).
The coat could be worn on almost any evening occasion over any number of other outfits and the dress looks stunning on its own. If you’re in the market for one of the new generation of black dresses for the coming Christmas season, MaxMara could be a good place to start. Check out, too, its Elegante eveningwear line – there’s another gorgeous crepe number with a cross-over front and important sleeves for £450.
Meanwhile at Chloé, black is deliciously lightened up with a see-through top in its silk-satin ruffle skirt dress (first picture, £2,470), and at Vionnet, black chiffon crepe de Chine is cut asymmetrically and beautifully draped to make an extraordinarily interesting and elegant dinner-to-cocktails-to-opera dress (second picture, £1,796). And that’s merely for starters – almost every designer worthy of the name has done something unusually interesting with black this year.