Midas touch

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 September, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 September, 2004, 12:00am

It looks as if designers are trying to outshine one another on the catwalks, with luxurious looks in shimmering fabrics.

Silver, gold and hints of iridescent blue shone brightly at Chanel and Fendi under the keen eye of Karl Lagerfeld. By contrast, Helmut Lang highlighted his collection with leather jackets cut in copper - the latest in the range of metallics - and paired it beautifully with shiny chestnut. At Dolce & Gabbana, models paraded down the runway in full-length gowns of futuristic bronze fabrics and semi-opaque panels that emphasised every curve and contour.

Marc Jacobs' glittering dresses radiated with ladylike glamour. In a display of restrained modesty, the usual flash of flesh and skin was demurely covered by pretty blouses and feminine jackets. Not so at the Gucci show, which was Tom Ford's last hurrah. Floor-length dresses graced the runways, displaying sexy cut-outs and revealing decollete in a parade of emerald green and midnight blue. Even Alberta Ferretti, who remained true to her feminine style, struck a glimmering note with shiny teal and gleaming nudes.

Other designers to jump on the metal motorcade were Zac Posen with gold knee-length dresses, Michael Kors' gilded sirens, Prada's prim brocade coats, Rochas' micro-mini dress, which was short on fabric but high on shine, and Stella McCartney, who used stripes of shimmering fabric to accentuate her flirty frocks. Costume National, Phoebe Philo for Chloe and Monique Lhuillier also worked their alchemy on gold slinky jackets and practical trench coats.

Meanwhile, silversmiths such as Ford dazzled with Asian-inspired evening gowns for Yves Saint Laurent, and Jil Sander and Vera Wang wove fluid dresses and pleated skirts into a high-gloss finish. Narciso Rodriguez couldn't make up his mind and came up with a spangly, silver dress contrasted with bronze satin insets.

Metallic tones glowed on delicate lace and sensuous silks. For those who dare not wear megawatt jackets and ultra-sheen trousers, yet yearn to be part of the glitterati, accessories are the way to go. Brooches in gold and silver - the must-have items of the season - are a fail-safe way to get in on the act. Chains with faux-diamond charms and coloured metallic links add flair to dresses and jackets.

Looking south of the hemline, silver-heeled boots, golden python sandals or bejewelled stilettos help any ensemble turn from drab to fab. And the Brit pack, in attempts to stave off the winter chill, have covered up the legs with opaque tights in an irresistible copper sheen.

If men are feeling left out in the cold, the winter season never looked brighter, with a wide choice of glittering garments. At Jonathan Saunders, hooded tracksuit tops glow with patchwork pewter, molten brown and brushed bronze. Meanwhile, Miuccia Prada adds high-octane shine with a pair of gilded men's sneakers for Miu Miu. Jean Paul Gaultier used silver- and gold-foil blankets as a glam way to keep editors warm in his cavernous warehouse venue during his show.

The new season look proves that all that glisters may not be gold - especially when new metallics such as pewter, bronze and copper are making inroads. Whether it's a sparkly dress or studded heels, shiny browns and iridescent earth tones are key looks this season, while gleaming greens, ultra violets and phosphorous blues also vie for the winter spotlight.