The poor pedal-pusher never really had a chance. The slim, knee-length pants - akin to a tailored pair of Bermudas - emerged on just about every catwalk in London and on a smattering of runways in Milan and Paris during the spring/summer 1997 shows last October. But whether they represented designers' desperation, or a genuine belief that the garment would find favour in high street stores and high-end boutiques, the pedal-pusher appears to have slid back into obscurity when buyers didn't buy very much and fashion editors weren't raving. Still, that left a plethora of interesting - and rather more comely - ideas for the spring, in a season fashion gurus describe as seeing the fading impact of minimalism and the onset of a romantic revival. In a flurry of frilly chiffon and ruffled jersey, fashion observers on the international circuit watched the curtains come down on the austere urban uniform. In its place next spring will be transparent sheaths, long and lean skirts that rustle at the ankle and body-hugging, one-shoulder dresses. Bare breasts and visible undies might be par for the course on catwalks and in nightclubs, but real people will be reaching for their silky slips and camisoles. And where chocolate brown was this winter's answer to black, the ubiquitous colours of next season will be spicy or reminiscent of the deep blue sea. 'It's a tropical escapade type of look,' said Peter Harris, merchandising manager of ladies' fashion, footwear and accessories for Lane Crawford. 'There will be a high summer feel to clothes.' That fresh holiday spirit is conveyed primarily by the season's colours of choice. The intrinsic style of the fashion capitals notwithstanding - Milan's commercial savvy, the signature opulence of Paris, New York's dynamic modernism and London's famed eccentricity - stores across-the-board next season will be awash in a sea of aquamarine, dusky rose and desert shades. But the visceral changes in springtime style point to reasons that go beyond the climatic. Body-conscious dressing has at last discovered a balance between seasons of shapeless layers and brazen exhibitionism. There will be a renewed softness in fashion, a timely diversion from the slew of monotone dark suits that had come to define good dressing. Even so, minimalism and its infinite interpretations have left their mark. There may be frills next summer, but there is little fuss. The predictions that 1980s style indicators would return have, thankfully, not yet come to pass. There will remain a cleanliness in spring dressing, supported up by an emphasis on the body beautiful and a widely held back-to-basics sense of stylistics. In Hong Kong, retailers appear to have accurately elucidated international style trends for the local market. Jersey - in long dresses, tunic tops, flared pants - may prove unseasonable in summertime humidity, so is replaced with viscose-acetate mixes. The effects of translucence will be diluted by the addition of slips and soft layers, and Hong Kong's reliance on suit dressing will be catered to in sleek treated fabrics and relaxed shapes. Joyce's style-watchers have adhered to a spring palette of spice and safari shades with turquoise and bougainvillea accents. Shapes are fluid, transparent fabrics are layered and plant, flower and animal prints (turtle and giraffe instead of tiger and leopard) provide a link from last year to this. Computer images - much like the microdots of the previous season - are another window into the future. There will also be plenty of dresses in the Joyce stable: bias-cut, subtly layered, one-shouldered or wraparound styles dominate. The chain has taken up the bermuda short challenge (an item the Swank Shop denotes as an 'outsider'), while a new collection of hot pants should prove successful. Jackets will be unlined, unstructured and more like shirts - and might even be replaced by short trench coats. At Swank Shop, light knits will predominate as will dresses - in fluid djellaba shapes (think Gucci last summer) and neat polo dresses. Lane Crawford's Peter Harris said last summer's shantung silks and capri pants would continue to be relevant in the spring of 1997, as will soft twin-sets in the season's new colours. Exotic elements will continue to be strong, with Giorgio Armani's showing of floaty tunics and palazzo pants setting the tone for what is poised to be a culturally adventurous season. In Hong Kong, fashion-watchers will continue to see the emergence of chinoiserie in dressing; it could be because of changing social dictates but custom-made cheongsams and other versions of Oriental gear will have an intensified presence on the style landscape. The biggest deviation from the fall season, say retailers, will be in accents and accessories. Winter fashion paid homage to silver but as spring dawns, everything will be tinged with gold. 'Gold looks great with the new vibrant spring colours - parrot green, celeste blue and white,' said Mr Harris. Few international designers were able to fully cater to what is predicted to be a monumental wave of Evita-mania - with perhaps the exception of Thierry Mugler who peppered his spring collection with fishnet tights, gloves and wide-brimmed hats. That may well change with the showings, later this month, of the spring 1997 haute couture collections in Paris, where tributes to Eva Peron - or are they to Madonna? - are predicted to be substantial.