FASCINATED by the dolled-up look of a bygone era, designers are pandering to the beautiful by making their creations glamorous and elegant. The silhouettes of the '40s and '50s have provided them with the inspiration for spring and summer collections. 'Designers are going back to Hollywood style, with spring colours and soft silhouettes. For us, it is more or less like that,' said Judy Chan, product manager of Givenchy. Silhouettes emphasise body contours. Jackets are a must for spring and summer and they are fitted. Shoulders are smaller, but defined, and waists are tight or further accentuated with a thin belt. This makes longer-length jackets slide gently over the hips. 'Jackets tend to be a little bit longer and go over either a small, slim skirt or a slightly swinging skirt,' said Lily Chuk, buyer for Lane Crawford. Some designers still favour short or cropped jackets, and sleeves that do not quite meet the wrist are also a feature. Skirt lengths either skim the knee or are raised to mid-thigh. A few collections favour micro-minis, while others have longer mid-calf lengths for full skirts. As an alternative, a number of designers mix shorts with suits - even if sometimes shorts are disguised as skirts. Bra tops and bustiers are essential items to underline female attributes and also make a surprising match with suits. Gianni Versace, in particular, uses this contrast. 'You wear the suit with something more fun inside, so it is not so rigid,' said Joyce Wong, Versus product manager. Tank tops have a strong presence and are sometimes worn under sheers, for example at Versus. 'A lot of the blouses are sheer organza, so we also have many undershirts, like a singlet with a little lace or an optical print,' Ms Wong said. Bodies and cropped knits underpin the skimpy look. 'In casual daywear, there is a lot of stretch . . . everything is with Lycra,' Ms Chuk said. Trousers are mostly narrow. Some feature high waistlines. Simplicity is the key for dresses. 'There are a lot of little dresses - Audrey Hepburn and Jackie O types - and also ensembles of a dress with a jacket,' Ms Chuk said. Halter neck and empire lines are experiencing a mini-revival and the babydoll look and the slip dress are enjoying particular popularity. 'We have a lot of sheer black slip dresses,' said Fiona Choi, product manager of Dolce and Gabbana. 'For example, there is a little black dress trimmed with yellow silk ribbon and a similar ribbon for the shoulder strap. It is a cute Barbie doll look.' Swimwear has also been influenced by the fascination for all things old-fashioned, as the latest shapes are reminiscent of bathing suits that graced the beaches in the good old days, with longer legs and more cover. Designers have seen the light as far as colours are concerned, with most collections promoting a palette of pastels. 'Even for denim, we carry all the pastel colours,' Ms Choi said. 'We major on pink, which has done particularly well in denim.' Graphic black and white are also important, either alone or in tandem - notably in the Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent collections. A few designers are still focusing on vibrant shades. Patterns lose out to mixes of texture, although polka dots are staging something of a comeback. Scarf prints have been softened with feminine motifs such as butterflies. Pared-down silhouettes pave the way for interesting details and zip fasteners are a popular choice of decoration. Soft, lightweight fabrics complement all the feminine shapes and floaty, transparent chiffon is revealed as the material of the moment. Satin and shiny finishes are everywhere - often contrasted with matte fabrics or knits - and, for more trendy looks, clear plastic and vinyl are the favoured fabrics. 'We promote a transparent look . . . that's a major theme in the D & G collection,' Ms Choi said. To complete the shimmer, diamante and rhinestones are used in abundance for both clothes and jewellery. 'For jackets, we have a lot of sateen finish with rhinestone buttons,' Ms Choi said. Accessories complement this season's fashions. Patent adds polish to bags and shoes, while transparent plastic gives feet a chance to shine or is crafted into see-through bags. Suede is unseasonally popular and striking combinations of leather and fabric abound. Etienne Aigner has a range of bags in nubuk leather and unbleached linen. It also highlights its Black Splendour line. 'This is a combination of high-gloss wet-look material and iridescent fabric, which produces a contrasting effect,' said Bonnie Fok, the PR manager. The range includes shoppers and handbags. Smart women will choose ladylike, hand-held bags, while for casual occasions backpacks will share the limelight. Shoppers and drawstring styles, like Lancel's best-selling Elsa bag, will feature. Versus gives a new twist to backpacks with pastel colours and ostrich feather straps. 'So many dresses are quite bare on top, so these little backpacks are like an accessory of the outfit,' Ms Wong said. Styles for shoes veer between flat sandals and elegant stiletto heels. There are platform shoes as well. Slingbacks are among the most popular.