Lurex makes a sparkling return to the catwalks for Christmas and beyond
Like the ’70s but way cooler is how Giuseppe Zanotti describes the sparkling glam-rock fabric he and others such as Christopher Kane and Nicholas Kirkwood have embraced for next season
The party season is getting into full swing and shoppers are scooping up shoes and glad rags that dazzle with crystals, sequins and tinselly fabrics.
Designers love a bit of shimmer and sparkle, especially for Christmas, but don’t imagine you will be packing away your party clothes on January 1, because the catwalks are awash with glittery glam-rock looks for spring. So expect to be partying hard well beyond the New Year.
There was tinsel and spangles at Gucci, metallic shine at McQueen and Louis Vuitton, and shimmery printed silver lamé dresses at Mary Katrantzou. However, one special favourite of the glam-rock era making a comeback is lurex.
Invented and patented in the 1940s, the metallic fibres in this fabric produce a starry night appearance that proved very popular on the disco dance floors of the ’70s and ’80s. Its once scratchy texture has been smoothed out with modern technology and now lurex is making a reappearance, notably in the coats, pleated dresses and knitwear of Christopher Kane’s collection.
Also boogieing in the spotlight this season and next are dancing shoes but, rather than smothering their heels in a pile of Swarovski crystals, designers have been experimenting with lurex and other sparkly materials, dipping their creations in brightly coloured glitter.
London shoe designer Rupert Sanderson has used lurex to create some beautiful party shoes for his new summer collection. “Lurex is not just for Christmas,” he insists. “It really taps into the Studio 54 glam rock, dancing vibe. It has such a heritage as a party fabric that even the word makes you smile inside.”
Tabitha Simmons is another to get sparkly for spring with her silver glitter pointed Mary Janes and round-toe ballerinas. However, party princesses don’t have to wait until next year to have their dance steps twinkling under the laser lights.
Giuseppe Zanotti, Sergio Rossi and Nicholas Kirkwood have emptied out tubes of glitter and used rolls of twinkly fabrics in their current collections.
Sergio Rossi looked to the Mary Janes of the 1920s for inspiration while the ’70s and ’80s played an influence on the others with block heels and platform shoes sparkling in green, pink, silver and blue. Even clutch bags are not immune to the treatment.
“I have always been drawn to the richness and opulence of lurex,” says Nicholas Kirkwood, who has used the material for several seasons and carries it in his autumn/winter 2016 collection and his upcoming resort collections. “I think it works for the party season – the glittery metallic fabric is the perfect way to update an evening look.”
Zanotti spent his teenage years as a DJ and is now a favourite with musicians, making stage shoes for Lady Gaga, Rihanna and a new capsule collaboration with J-Lo that will debut in January. His club and party shoes sparkle with sequins and mirrors, but he is also using lurex because it “evokes its own light – it’s the symbol of the glam generation,” he explains.
He is known for building his collections as if building a DJ playlist and using lurex made him think of early ’80s music and the sounds of the soul and funk bands of Philadelphia. However, he cautions: “We are designers of our time, we can include some inspirational memories in our collections, but the projection is absolutely modern, with an eye to the future.” So in his mind he combines these retro materials with styles that might be worn for club nights in Ibiza and Mykonos or cities such as New York and London. The new styles are sexier and less extreme than the typical kitsch looks of the
’70s. “The key is to lighten and refine the look. It is not Saturday Night Fever, it is way cooler and more contemporary,” Zanotti says.