Velvet, lace, floral – the hottest party fabrics of 2016

Whether you want sexy or cutesy, pricey or affordable, there is no shortage of chic options to see out the year

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 December, 2016, 6:17pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 December, 2016, 11:29am

It’s the most exciting, yet nerve-racking, time of the year: a whirl of shopping and holiday parties.

As you flit from one champagne-fuelled event to the next, your style needs to be on point – because the last thing you want to do is end the year on a style disaster. Forget about dusting off “ol’ faithful” – the little black dress you’ve always resorted to – that won’t cut it this year.

Whether you love it or hate it, velvet is here to stay. The good news is that designers have come up with some lovely options to update this classic evening wear fabric. Brands such as Miu Miu, Giorgio Armani, Rochas, Haider Ackermann, Gucci and Sacai are offering playful takes on velvet for the holiday season. And if you’re not daring enough to go velvet for the whole body, the likes of Dolce & Gabbana and Jimmy Choo are using it in shoes and accessories.

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The trend comes as part of a 1990s revival in fashion, but this time it’s not just boring black – colourful velvet and even crushed velvet are making the rounds. We are fans of velvet slip dresses this winter and the various velvet pantsuits, such as the dark emerald green one from Frame worn by supermodel Natasha Poly.

I’ve always been a fan of sexy, party jumpsuits. It reminds me of the ’70s “glamazons” and that whole Studio 54 Bianca Jagger vibe. The jumpsuit has enjoyed a resurgence on the catwalk lately with brands such as Chloé, Versace and Elie Saab all embracing retro styles but executed with a modern elegance and panache. Thankfully, it’s not just high fashion either; there’s plenty to find on the high street, too. Zara, for example, does a red version with an asymmetrical frilled neckline for HK$499. Don some impressive heels and you’re golden.

Winter florals can be sensual and enticing while bringing a touch of complexity to an outfit, depending on the print. We’re in love with dark floral jacquard with rich shine from Erdem (availabe from, which always does the most sophisticated floral prints. Micro florals are also a hit this season: the strapless, wide-leg jumpsuit by Johanna Ortiz in a white on navy micro floral print is an inspired choice.

Silver is a key colour in stores at the moment and perhaps that has something to do with this year’s Met Ball Gala (the theme was Manus X Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology) where the red carpet saw the likes of Cindy Crawford, Kim Kardashian, Rita Ora and Poppy Delevingne all looking fabulous in futuristic silver gowns. Many brands and designers are eschewing traditional gold for more fashion-forward silver metallic dresses, blazers or pleated skirts.

We all love a bit of bling, and there’s plenty of it around: see Valentino, Balenciaga, Fendi and Dolce & Gabbana. And high street hero H&M has lots of affordable options, with a silver floor-length slip dress being one of our favourites.

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Sexy lace is always a good option, but avoid saccharine versions in peach or pink. I favour black or darker tones for the holiday season. If you can’t afford Valentino’s intricate lace creations, try Self Portrait (available at Net-A-Porter and Lane Crawford), which has made a name for itself with well-structured, feminine lace outfits at a decent price. If you want to go local, S.Nine by Susanna Soo has plenty of body-conscious lace in sumptuous hues – we especially like the festive red high-collar sleeveless dress with lace trim hemline.

A little feminine volume goes a long way, and we like the way in which Ellery and Johanna Ortiz introduce a bold frill or peplum but keep it modern through clever draping and construction. Hong Kong designer Melissa Bui does something similar in terms of volume in her dramatic evening and day outfits. For this party season, we like her black and white outfits that use a voluminous sleeve, or skirt peplum to add a touch of drama.

Finally, there’s good news for the girly girls – the return of the ultra feminine in fashion and evening wear – with floaty sheers, tiered ruffles and light bohemian fabrics leading the way. For inspiration, just look to the catwalks of Alexander McQueen, Chloé, Valentino, Gucci and Bora Aksu, who recently opened a store in Hong Kong. These can add a romantic, flirty twist to your cocktail outfit, but just make sure the outfit doesn’t overwhelm your body.

Ultimately, the holiday season is just the right time of year to bring a little fantasy and magic to your sartorial choices.