April 09 2011
My attitude to luxury designer clothes has changed as prices have risen. If I am going to spend serious money, I now want something designed and built to last, that will anchor my wardrobe long-term and, ideally, amaze and delight with timeless beauty. It’s always exciting to see the iconic catwalk pieces that direct the trends of the season, but I don’t buy them, because at this level I need more than a summer’s lease from my clothes.
Yet I still crave that seasonal pop and I’ve become fed up with the received wisdom of looking for it on the high street – slavish copies, inferior fabric, too cheap. I want the spirit of the original rather than a facsimile, reasonably well made in fabric that will survive a good few cleanings. And this spring, I’ve found it in Karen Millen, a mid-market brand where clothes are always well executed but which I associated with a slightly showy, rather body-conscious style that’s not quite for me.
Now I have found that their look is softer and cooler, the colours spot-on, and among the easy draped staples and summer stripes and prints are some pieces that exactly catch the current mood. The undisputed stars are the colour-blocked striped dresses and skirts, especially one that looks like the lovechild of Louis Vuitton’s early summer, ladylike, full-skirted, small-collared dresses and Prada’s bright stripe mixes. With a neatly belted bodice and a beautiful full skirt stiffened out because the stripes are painstakingly stitched fabric bands, not a print, it is immensely flattering and has garnered approving comments everywhere I’ve worn it. At £190 it represents real value – although it’s bang on trend, it will not be departing my wardrobe when summer ends.