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Women's Fashion / In the Cut

Christmas Sparkle

In the Cut is a column written by Harriet Walker and illustrated by Zoë Taylor, uncovering the key trends of the season

Dior S/S13
Dior S/S13 Illustration by Zoe Taylor

At this time of year, our minds naturally turn to sparkle. Which seems ironic given most of us will spend Christmas day stagnating on the sofa in our trackie bums while the wind blows a gale outside and the sun refuses even to rise...

At this time of year, our minds naturally turn to sparkle. Which seems ironic given most of us will spend Christmas day stagnating on the sofa in our trackie bums while the wind blows a gale outside and the sun refuses even to rise. Nevertheless, designers' autumn collections are never short of a bit razzmatazz for the 'party season' (which is what the people who aren't on the sofa call this time of year). So it's even more interesting then that their summer collections should be chock full of it too.

Bauble-encrusted cocktail dresses with stiff and ecumenical-looking carapaces at Fendi; tinsel-ish holographic organdie wrapped as tops, tunic dresses worn with shorts and flaring bell skirts in Raf Simons's debut at Dior; even studded metallic headpieces - for all the world like Stig of the Dump meets Pimp My Ride - worn with sporty space-age separates at Junya Watanabe.

Our obsession with sparkle is no modern affliction; men have been magpies since Midas. There was a pair of gold-soled slippers from the first century AD in the British Museum's 'Afghanistan' exhibition last year.

"Our obsession with sparkle is no modern affliction; men have been magpies since Midas"

Sparkle was status and now it is sociable, at its best in small glimpses rather than swathed all over - the undersole of an otherwise puritanical pilgrim shoe by Miu Miu; between the pleated folds of Roberto Cavalli's blinged up pteruges-style skirt. Glimmering threads lurk in lurex, a retro yarn making quite the comeback this season, thanks to Meadham Kirchhoff; shimmering silks and lame cast a metallic glow at Viktor & Rolf and Alexander Wang, while tabi socks at Prada were tinfoil-esque.

In the past, designers have worked with metals more literally, to achieve a bit of sparkle and shine: chainmail and tectonic dresses by Pierre Cardin, for example, and the non-ironic use of lamé by Halston at Studio 54.

For spring, Burberry's Christopher Bailey dressed models in that fabric, made  modern with cut and jewel colours, and they shimmered down the catwalk as if they were dressed in sweetie wrappers.

Which, let's be honest, is as close as most of us will come to sparkle this season: the Quality Street tin and its contents.

Text by Harriet Walker

Harriet Walker is a fashion writer at The Independent. Her book Less is More: Minimalism in Fashion is out now, published by Merrell.

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