Designers go for the Dynasty look

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 October, 2009, 12:00am

It seems apt that cold colours are ushering in this winter's fashions - black, greys, dark blues and crushed berry reds. They may sound funereal, but these are also often the colours that are associated with authority, power and seduction. Team them with other fashion favourites such as earthy orange - a darker version of spring's tangerine - and a range of shiny metallics, and fashionistas should have a wide palette of colours with shades to suit every complexion.

Reinterpretation of the classics is something that the fashion world excels in. This winter designers turn the clock back 25 years to the '80s for some of the season's key looks. Forget Wham!'s Club Tropicana. This look is modelled more on the clothes worn by Linda Evans and Joan Collins, the stars of the American hit TV show Dynasty.

Glossy, sophisticated outfits with shoulder pads that widen narrow shoulders prove a flattering foil to feminine figures with tapered waists.

'An important trend is the revival of the '80s,' says Audrey Sun, chief operating officer for Harvey Nichols (Hong Kong). 'The shoulder pad, lace, gloves and fishnet stocking details are back with a vengeance.'

Following the credit crunch, fabrics such as leather, lace and wool are the basis for the season's clothes, footwear and accessories, symbolising as they do quality, longevity and an implied value for money. Looking all-out ostentatious is uncool. Nowadays, those buying designer clothes are often taking part in what is termed 'investment dressing' as purchasers strive to find something that will continue to look good years after it is bought and is versatile enough to be altered and updated by teaming it with accessories that change with the season.

'The hottest fabric and style this autumn/winter season is knits with a high elastic quality for relaxed comfort,' confirms Sun. 'The slouchy cold-weather hats, woolly scarves and coat jackets are favoured in fine-gauge or crocheted yarns. The notion of creature comforts and the security of cocoon-like wrapping is a popular look throughout the season.'

The jumper dresses that could look so lumpy and unflattering in the '80s reappear in a more refined guise, making them sexy and retro.

In addition, those with the legs for them will be delighted by one of the hottest trends in footwear - thigh-high boots that can be ably matched to jumper dresses. The over-the-knee boots draw attention to legs and come in a variety of colours and styles. It may not be a good look for ladies of shorter stature and it's undoubtedly a style that was formerly associated with the escort trade - think Julia Roberts' Pretty Woman - but today it has moved from downtown to the High Street with the blessing of designers such as Chloe, Hermes and Marc Jacobs, who featured them heavily on their catwalks.

For those who have the confidence to wear them, there are shrinking hemlines for day and eveningwear. 'Short, tight lycra or leather miniskirts and tubular dresses are being reinterpreted,' says Sun.

Geographically, people here may be thousands of miles away from European and American fashion houses, but Sun says that a combination of globalisation and the internet means that Harvey Nichols' customers in Hong Kong are up to the minute when it comes to what's new.

'The casualwear trends in Hong Kong are very much on a par with other parts of the world,' she says. 'We find the most popular brands include Nina Ricci and Francesco Scognamiglio for women, and Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci and Wooyoungmi for men. Like America and Europe, the '80s power glam chic style for women and the collegiate style for men are most popular in Hong Kong.'

The Hong Kong branch is Harvey Nichols' first flagship store in Asia, with its next foray planned for Kuwait next year. Sun says the brand may be synonymous with Britain to some, but local magnate Dickson Poon bought it in 2003. As with the flagship store in London's Knightsbridge, the Hong Kong branch offers a selection of international brands and a personal shopping service targeted at the celebrities, socialites and international residents and visitors who help make Hong Kong the richest city in China.

Sun says there are also practical advantages to customers because the store is located close to the mainland and the legions of factories and workshops that help power the international fashion scene.

'Many high-quality international brands are now being produced in China, not because of the low cost but mainly due to the fact that a lot of hand-finished details can be made there,' she says.

'Although large portions of our merchandise are still made in Europe, we do benefit from the faster delivery and replenishment of those styles that are made in China.'