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New colour trends may banish gloom

Who’d have thought recession chic would be so bright? I can’t decide whether the technicolour optimism the designers have displayed on the catwalks of Milan, New York and London over the past two weeks is delightfully refreshing or somewhat inappropriate.

Last week in London, when a line of grey-suited bankers were trudging out of Lehman Brothers carrying the contents of their desks in brown cardboard boxes, a long line of rainbow-swathed models stalked down the capital’s catwalks wearing giant sequins, voluminous harem pants and, erm, Pac-Man helmets.

One fashion editor likened it to watching the designers fiddle while Rome burned.

It’s often said that fashion trends reflect the economic mood, but I’m not sure that’s true any more. When we were riding the wave of easy credit a couple of years ago the colour palette served up was greyer than the storm clouds currently gathering over the City. Now, when the time has come to atone for our sins and live within our means, we’re being asked to do so wearing shades of coral pink and orange, perhaps with a crumpled metallic finish if we really want to embrace the mood.

Upon reflection, I’m inclined to believe it a good thing. With the weather providing little definition between the seasons, and little reason for shoppers to go out and refresh their wardrobes, you have to applaud the designers for this dramatic U-turn from autumn’s gothic tones. Put enough temptation in the way of our repentant shoppers and they may be persuaded to sin again, but for the time being we have to accept they won’t be doing so with the conviction they once did, no matter how bright the collections are.

Lauretta Roberts, editor

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