The shimmering lure of Lurex

Adding a little metallic sheen for a party style with an elegant twist

Lurex on the catwalk: Missoni autumn/winter 2018-19
Lurex on the catwalk: Missoni autumn/winter 2018-19

One of the pleasing things about the Anni Albers retrospective at Tate Modern (until 27 January) – and there are many – was my discovery that the artist had woven metallic thread through a selection of her textiles, including a free-hanging room divider from 1949, on loan from New York’s Museum of Modern Art. The influential artist had succumbed to the allure of Lurex, incorporating it into her modernist project. 

Missoni Lurex trousers, £840
Missoni Lurex trousers, £840
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I grew up in a seaside town, and a deep-rooted fondness for end-of-the-pier sparkle is hard to shake off. Over the years, I have stockpiled a fine collection of both vintage and modern Lurex knitwear. An array of shimmering metallic tops is stored in a see-through box on a shelf in my wardrobe, giving the impression of a glittery cross-section of the earth’s layers. For me, the beauty of the metallic yarn shines through whether it’s on the body or off.

Aquazzura Lurex pumps, £530
Aquazzura Lurex pumps, £530
Roland Mouret Lurex-jacquard Mulligan skirt, £1,295
Roland Mouret Lurex-jacquard Mulligan skirt, £1,295

Adding a little bling to the basics is the key to achieving low-key style with an elegant twist. At this time of year, however, there is a need to tread carefully – downplay the shimmer and shine with understated elements. Lurex is a showbiz staple and, whatever the occasion, one standout piece is enough. Offset a metallic jacket, such as Blazé Milano’s silver Lurex blazer (£1,170) or Saint Laurent’s trimmed Lurex blazer (£2,245), with a basic T-shirt and a pair of faded black jeans. Temper a sparkly sweater with a pair of chic tuxedo trousers: Chloé’s ribbed, silk-blend Lurex sweater (£650) and black ribbed rollneck (£850) are similar to a couple of my vintage favourites. And, of course, for superior shimmer knits, Missoni is the place to go: consider a draped Lurex cardigan (£775).

Isabel Marant Lurex Mileya socks, £45
Isabel Marant Lurex Mileya socks, £45
Aquazzura Powder Puff flat mules, £440
Aquazzura Powder Puff flat mules, £440

Sparkle and shine add energy to a simple outfit. Missoni’s gold, Lurex wide-leg trousers (£840) are straight out of Studio 54, but juxtaposed with a sharp, tailored jacket they could well make the boardroom-to-cocktail-bar dash. If that feels too much of a stretch, the good news about Lurex knitwear is that it’s easy to roll up and pack and has excellent crease-resistant properties. Similarly, try Roland Mouret’s Lurex-jacquard full Mulligan skirt (£1,295) with an oversized white shirt. Or go for a perennially elegant black tuxedo and a pair of Aquazzura’s Lurex heeled pumps – Net-a-Porter has a pink slingback version (£530). My personal favourites are the Powder Puff flat mule (£440), perfect with a pair of Capri pants and a cashmere sweater.

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For a more space-age vibe, Balenciaga’s Speed trainers (£565) are available in sparkly stretch knit and give a tailored trouser suit a sporty twist. And the Golden Goose Deluxe Lurex and leather high-top sneakers (£345) would dial down an elegant silk midi dress. And should a fun Lurex stocking filler be on the cards, try Isabel Marant’s Lurex Mileya socks (£45) to jazz up an everyday outfit.

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