Tongue in chic

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 August, 2011, 12:00am

If spring-summer's muse provided sweetness and innocence, a wardrobe of adorable boho florals, cute and kooky retro prints and white, pure minimalism, autumn-winter's girl wears vampy underwear inspired outerwear and daring cuts. Making a big cheeky splash on catwalks, she ushers in a sexy, sophisticated season.

Fetish and lingerie

Louis Vuitton, Giles Deacon and Givenchy all gave their fair share of kink and sizzle, But how well do the new season's runway trends translate to Hong Kong streets?

Soft incarnations of fetish and lingerie come in black lace, leather panelling, and sheers, at Valentino, Christian Dior, Marchesa and Prabal Gurung, this autumn. These more feminine interpretations appeal to those who don't dare to go to extremes. Fans who liked Richard Nicoll's references to Angie Bowie, or Chloe's ethereal see-through skirts, will have something to look forward to in September.

The obvious champions of the fetish look for the coming season are Louis Vuitton (who even featured rubberised lace) Givenchy, and a rather hard-core Mugler. It worked on the catwalk, but the pavement could pose problems. Donning a see-through skirt, black knickers and knee-high, patent, lace-up boots might work for Kate Moss, but for us there's a risk of looking more Wan Chai working girl than high-fashion hipster.

Sarah Rutson, fashion director at Lane Crawford, agrees that this trend should not be taken too literally. 'Off the catwalk, it is about taking elements of the meaning and essence, such as a pair of sharp, pointed stilettos with an ankle strap, or a skinny, tight pencil skirt in leather or satin,' she says.

Even if necklines tend to be quite conservative in Hong Kong, hemlines are often not. Cheryl Leung, British-born, Hong Kong-based fashion stylist and co-founder of Let Them Eat Cake magazine, thinks 'it will be risky dressers in Hong Kong who will dare to wear those thigh-high slit skirts this autumn-winter'.

Sheers and lace

Although naughtier looks beckon, we advise you to go for a blush-inducing, rather than eye-popping, look. Christopher Kane, Emilio Pucci, Elie Saab and Stella McCartney all offer plenty more demure lace, sheer options; while for Hong Kong's more grown-up women, Valentino's ladylike collection also includes leather strips and checks.

'The interpretation of bondage and sexuality,' says Rutson, 'is almost a constrained, tongue-in-cheek type of styling, in that you find other ways of expressing the trend.' The trick is to work it one part sexy and two parts prim. Longer skirts go a treat with a lacy sheer top. Innocent Sandro Peter Pan-collared tops would likewise pair well with killer Christian Louboutin heels and something more risqu?waist down.

For those who prefer languid elegance, longer lengths - celebrated in spring by Lanvin, Dior, Erdem, Alberta Ferretti and even Dolce & Gabbana - are here to stay. See Americans Derek Lam or Michael Kors for easy, wearable versions, and Ralph Lauren, Christian Dior or Zac Posen gowns for full-on glamour.

Bolder prints

Exotic animal prints are still hot news, while spring's traditional florals have largely disappeared. Edgier, more graphic, concoctions such as those at Givenchy, Miu Miu, Jil Sander, Erdem, Giambattista Valli, and Mary Katrantzou provide bold, floral flashes for your wardrobe.

'Women will love the purple orchid print sweater from Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci,' Leung adds, 'and they'll also be stealing their boyfriend's Rottweiler Givenchy jumpers.'

Etro, Giles, Jonathan Saunders, Anna Sui, Hermes, and Versace are also still flying the graphic print flag. And the nod to vintage patterns remains, with sophisticated polka dots seen at Diane Von Furstenberg and Marc Jacobs' 1940s shapes and pillbox hats.

Not surprisingly, Dries Van Noten gives us some eclectic print combinations.

Roaring 40s, decadent 70s

Reinterpreting retro has gathered even greater momentum than in spring, so don't abandon chic 70s shapes and hippy, bohemian styles like those floaty spring maxi dresses from Ferragamo and Alberta Ferretti.

'To update your wardrobe and make the maxi skirt relevant to the new season,' Rutson advises that you 'pair it with a chunky sweater'. 'The 70s always come around every few years ... especially during summer,' says Rutson. 'I expect to be seeing highlights of it in spring-summer 2012. The trend paid homage to Yves Saint Laurent, who was at his peak in the 70s. The slower economy in Europe and the US has also triggered a love of this decade.'

This autumn's vintage inspirations take on a more louche influence from the 70s. Keep rocking those disco looks, as belted, high-waisted, wide-leg pants officially become a must-have item. Capes, bowed blouses, and everything from the bell-bottom to the palazzo, are also under the spotlight. Look to Sonia Rykiel, Chloe, Tommy Hilfiger, Tory Burch, Celine and Yves Saint Laurent for choice retro pieces.

Leung sees 'fierce bohemian with all the feather trimmings, Studio 54 decadence, flared shapes, high-waisted trousers, and snakeskin prints' as hot 70s-inspired looks of the new season, with colours varying from deep tones and jewel colours, to vintage shades such as burnt sienna, chocolate, and mustard.

Get at least one sensually draped, daringly cut statement piece, like one of Haider Ackermann's liquid-like gowns. Long, slinky outfits with low necklines or thigh-high slit skirts evoke 70s evening allure. Bianca Jagger glamour is back. Mulberry, Fendi and Marc by Marc Jacobs evoke 70s earthy palettes, high-belted skirts and pussy-bow blouses.

Sixties shapes and British mod styles were championed by Christopher Bailey at Burberry Prorsum and by Miuccia Prada, but the 40s stole the show. Jean Paul Gaultier, Donna Karan, Louis Vuitton, Marni and Miu Miu all embraced a certain 'wartime charm'. Gucci's interpretation included glamorous knee-high boots, bright furs, fedora hats, and feminine blouses in rich tones. Rutson notes that coloured fur, and colour in general, 'are very strong this season'.

Forties style took centre stage at both Donna Karan and Gaultier, with fur shrugs, pencil skirts, pearls and gloves. For those who aren't ready to carry off this look, take note from Marni and Miu Miu's cute 40s tea dresses, with structured shoulders and lovely prints that would work well with those wooden heels and wedges you bought in spring.

Send in the hounds

Whether it's plaid or gingham, houndstooth or tartan, traditional countryside fabrics get a modern makeover. Hunting, shooting and other such sports inspire. British labels naturally took to this trend. Take a look at Mulberry's prim corduroy outfits for younger styles, and revel in Daks' countryside checks and manly quilted vests for more mature sophistication.

'Butter-soft leather will be a key addition to the autumn-winter wardrobe, as well as the designer parka,' says Leung.

Burberry Prorsum did checks on boxy 60s mod coats with furry cow-print flat caps (which we suggest you skip) on the runway. Vivienne Westwood went outlandishly Scottish in swathes of tartan, as only she knows how; Pringle of Scotland went for wholesome heritage knits and layering; while young Henry Holland had a fresh, kooky adaptation.

Even the French borrowed from the British. Sonia Rykiel gives us tantalising tartans in rich colours; and Yves Saint Laurent's Prince of Wales checks are sexy and sophisticated.

Male order

Tuxedo dressing provided a rigid shape and palette for girls. Dolce & Gabbana, D&G and Chanel made a shift from feminine 50s to boyish androgyny. Masculine tailoring and mannish white shirts might look cool, but many Hong Kong women remain reluctant to shed their feminine fashions. Although gender-bending has been a hot topic this year (just look at androgynous blond male model Andrej Pejic) a Hong Kong version would be much more subtle: think contemporary suiting touches, strong shoulders, and dropped waists at Hermes, and minimalist Celine.

Stefano Pilati honoured Yves Saint Laurent's original play on gender by looking into the archives and creating a monochrome collection with stunning elegance.

The influence of that famous Yves Saint Laurent smoking jacket is both classic and contemporary; see D&G and Moschino update suiting with more urban, feminine twists. 'The black blazer' notes Leung, 'whether oversized, mannish, fitted or tuxedo, teamed with tailored trousers, has the most staying power.'

Cool girls will borrow from boys' pinstripes, flats, white shirts and tailored pieces. Asian-American designers Alexander Wang, Jason Wu and Phillip Lim all have paid contemporary homage to Saint Laurent; with wearable, urbane interpretations like these likely to gain traction in Hong Kong.

Staying power

Not all of spring-summer's pieces should be stored away when the weather cools. Keep it retro with cat eye shades, like these hot red ones from Christian Dior. Pair with vintage-looking tea dresses or an outfit with fetish details to channel Dita Von Teese.

Tough leather cuffs like this version by Sass & Bide are a subtle way to reference autumn's fetish trend. This soft natural colour and individual leather strips will complement most outfits.

Anya Hindmarch's cross body gold python bag with aquamarine front is perfect for channelling 70s disco fever and a Bianca Jagger chic. Match with high waisted wide pants and a slinky lurex top.

Keep your tall black stiletto heels, like these ones from Christian Louboutin's collection 'Changing of the Guards' for their black fringing and almost military ankle strap. These will work well with sexy black lace outfits and leather panels. It's no surprise that Celine bags are making it to this list. The coveted range from spring-summer is full of classic gems like this beautiful Bordeaux coloured calfskin clasp bag. Its minimal shape and deep colour has a hint of retro but would also pair well with masculine suiting.