What are we supposed to do about the year-round mono-climate we’ve managed to create? Environmental doom apart, I’m very cross about it on a personal level: it’s wreaked havoc with my wardrobe.
This is how the season has shaped up for me so far. In anticipation of a tour of duty in the fashion trenches of Milan and Paris, I lost my head and invested in an autumn/winter uniform. What an idiot. After I had hauled a hundredweight of purchases several thousand miles, the whole lot turned out to be redundant.
The shopping list would have made sense in the good old days of four distinct seasons. I bought two coats: a sleek black cashmere one by Boudicca and a red Harris tweed by a new designer called Kinder (tweed, ha!).
I got myself a pinstripe pencil-skirt suit; a thick grey long-line jumper; a couple of high-buttoning long-sleeved blouses; a stretch wool Body Conscious dress (wool!); and I threw in several pairs of boots and thick opaque tights to cover all eventualities. Or rather, none.
What was I thinking of? Style-wise, I flattered myself that I’d hit every trend, but what a disaster. September was hot in Milan and hotter in Paris. Back in Blighty, barely a day since has warranted much more than a lightweight jacket and an umbrella.
We’ve reached the absurd situation where the pre-set machinery of fashion is still churning out the same old seasonal fare, assuming that sun is for summer and cold is for autumn as it was in Dick and Dora storybook days. And worse, for all my supposed insider fashion intelligence, I keep getting fooled by it. No more: it’s time to get a grip.
Look around this month and every fashion magazine and shop is full of alluring varieties of weather-inappropriate coats – cocoons, swingy things, capes and First World War trenches. Stand back, say I. Why buy when properly cold days have practically faded to a distant memory? By the time a chill comes around, they will all be on sale, anyway.
You can always tell the way things are going by the pack-conversation of fashion editors waiting for the shows to begin. Along the rows and benches, I heard nothing but the latest chic boast: “Oh, I haven’t bought a thing!”
Has an incredible parsimony settled over this previously spendthrift community? Only partly – though designer prices have rocketed. No, the smart Americans and Europeans were happily wafting around bare-legged in little more than breezy, trapezey dresses (black, natch) and humongous wedges or platforms.
Way to go, I think. A neat jacket to shrug on top, a couple of belts, a scarf and an arsenal of opaque Wolford tights – that’s what a modern, climate-aware, year-round wardrobe looks like to me.
• Is there really no stopping the blight of Mrs Beckham? An unconfirmed rumour – from reliable sources – is circulating that she’s likely to be the face of the Marc Jacobs spring advertising campaign. That would mean being photographed by the unsparing lens of the ex-grunge visual supremo Juergen Teller, who has created Jacobs’s advertising image over many years; a brave step for any woman with vanity, but that’s by the bye.
It’s the head-messing contradictions the collaboration sparks – the world’s most uncool celebrity in association with one of the world’s coolest designers. I speak as a snob, of course. VB and her bodyguards are for ever getting under one’s feet at fashion shows.
She was at Jacobs’s show in New York, and at his Louis Vuitton collection in Paris – as well as practically everywhere else. What people like me can’t stand is the idea that the woman we had down as a show-side nuisance (there to please the tabloids) might be about to vault to the forefront of a brand that we have spent a decade revering as separate, special and anti all things establishment and mainstream.
If true, it would of course be the biggest tease Marc Jacobs could pull – as well as an industry-sized billboard summing up the way fashion is going. Or has gone.
Using Posh would say: “It doesn’t matter what cliques and elites think any more, only celebrity sells.”
It would be a triple coup. Victoria could feel endorsed in her fashion credibility, Jacobs could use her fame both genuinely and satirically – while people like me work up his name even further with our endless speculations about his possible postmodern ironic manipulations of media.
Whether Jacobs does employ Mrs Beckham or not is beside the point. Even in theory, it sums up the chilly reality that has dawned through this last round of collections. In more shows than I’d care to enumerate, there was a prickly feeling that designers are shooting above the heads of the insider audience.
They were not aiming to impress the critics, but to sell bags, bags, bags, and a few dull commercial clothes to (hate to say it, but) vulgar “new markets” – for some of which Victoria Beckham is a heroine.
• On the upside, my favourite tip from the latest shows is one to adopt right now. Jewellery has gone big, blatant, and, for the likes of me, satisfyingly junky.
Multiple strings of giant beads, pearls, chains, diamanté brooches, stacks of bangles and stone-encrusted belts were liberally scattered over the most influential collections – including Marni, Lanvin, Louis Vuitton and Dries Van Noten. What’s not to like?
With a sharp eye for the right kind of sparkle, colour and oversized flowers, it’s all eminently sourceable for a few quid from most Christmas church fairs.