Cutting a dash in the fast lane
KAVITA DASWANI finds that designers have been revving up for summer with
IT CAN go from zero to 100 kilometres per hour in just over five seconds, is based on Formula One technology and is guaranteed to have people turning green with envy.
And at a cost of $1.99 million, there is no doubt the Ferrari Mondial t Cabriolet ''Valeo'' is a car to be seen in.
The car made its debut on the streets of Hongkong last week when ''well-heeled'' enthusiasts were invited to take the world's only right-hand drive version for a test drive.
But what do you wear in a ''car to be seen in'' that costs this much? In their spring-summer collections, many European fashion houses have incorporated an ''open-road'' theme, with the emphasis on ease of wear, natural fabrics and total comfort.
Esprit - famous for its fun, casual look - mixes classic American sportswear, European sophistication and a slightly bohemian element for a typical spring look.
Colours include red, white and navy (the nautical look is still strong), as well as earthy neutrals and light, summery pastels. Bold checks and stripes are predominant.
According to Esprit, clothing for casual events should be as unconstructed as possible - roomy pants, sleeveless tank-tops and tie-front shirts.
For a little Gallic flair, Guy Laroche recommends anything from the sailor to safari look: A-line jackets with pants, batik-printed denim, ''snake''-printed bush jackets and shorts teamed with oversized blouses.
For men, S T Dupont recommends espadrilles, striped T-shirts and slightly iridescent beige silk suits.
Designers Michael Roelli and Jean-Luc Testu, who created the spring and summer 1993 collection for Dupont, have come up with a range of sporty blazers in slightly unconventional fabrics such as raw silk and linen-silk blends.
Navy and ivory twin sets are popular, as are large sports shirts in colourful stripes.
German design house Etienne Aigner, known for its clean, classic lines, moves back to the 1960s in its spring line for men.
Suits and lounge jackets are slim to allow for maximum comfort and Aigner has perfected the ''broken suit'' - mix-and-match ensembles in the American tradition.
Blousons and long jackets allow for rough and tumble days out, often in colours such as sand, sea blue, golden beige and coral.
For women, Aigner was inspired by famous holiday destinations, but the focus is still on colours and textures: a sub-collection called ''Kyoto'', comprises soft greens and blues, wool checks, pure silk blouses and large, soft scarves.
The ''New York'' line is all blue and grey - with sophistication in the form of high-buttoned jackets or hooded parkas. For more rustic use, Aigner has created the ''Cairo'' and ''Santa Monica'' collections using fine linens and crepe-cotton mixes.
Skirts vary in length - some in knits, others in natural silks and linen. Shapes are either fluid and flowing or straight and narrow.
Blouses are in simple T-shirt styles but with attractive motifs - including the distinctive Aigner crest - paired with linen jackets and jeans.
Italian label Basile uses the cultures of Brazil and Mexico - song, dance and colourful theatre - as well as recreating the wardrobes of screen stars such as Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and Carmen Miranda.
In its ''Donna'' line, large, bold prints in red, ochre, yellow and black are eye-catching; as are the baseball shirts in crepe de chine. Oversized trousers are nipped delicately at the waist.
Macrame patchwork - reminiscent of the environment-influenced clothing of seasons past - comes in black and is used in shawls and waistcoats for provocative layering.
Light jackets, for days spent racing down wide-open roads, are sleeveless or collarless, teamed with stretch jersey tops or jumpsuits.
Model: Jacky, from Models 4. Ferrari Mondial t Cabriolet provided by Italian Motors.