Have you noticed the change? Suddenly, those chilly winds have subsided, the sun has switched on to full-beam, the sea is perfect for a morning swim and the sales are over. While we've loved wearing our bright opaque tights, pirate boots and cute boxy jackets, the mood has changed and it's time to slough off the winter wraps for the bright, the fresh, the light and the airy: in other words, the spring/summer 2009 collections.
The upcoming season is an interesting one. The collections hit the catwalks just as the world's economies started showing signs of trouble, and the pieces still reflect the optimism of an industry riding high on the luxury mania of the last few years - few people designing clothes had yet come to terms with how deeply this crisis would slice through all the fun. The colours are still full of hope and cheer, extravagantly voluminous dresses and trousers use yards and yards of pastel-printed chiffon and all the influences of the world appear, from Ralph Lauren's Arabian fantasy to John Galliano's take on African beading for Dior.
Nevertheless, there were a few hints from the usual prescient suspects that things were about to change. A proliferation of flapper dresses and Changeling-style hats took us back to Depression-era America at Jean Paul Gaultier, Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquière and Alberta Ferretti. Marc Jacobs, ever the predictor of global trends, showed austere shapes reminiscent of the 1940s with high necklines, accented shoulders and shabby-genteel hats and bustles. Most timely of all, Christopher Bailey at Burberry Prorsum sent out a collection of trenches and dresses dip-dyed to look rain-sodden with droopy rain hats covering the models' eyes - gloomy but in a way that spoke of the simple childhood pleasures of jumping in puddles and singing in the rain, before the world got too sophisticated for its own good.
Perhaps, though, this is exactly what shoppers will be looking for right now: a little escapism, a little fantasy, a little jolliness. The avant-garde and the intellectual may have something terribly important to communicate through their asymmetrical shoes and 10-shades-of-granite layering, and we applaud that. But when the going gets tough, the truly tough dress up in pretty frocks, slip on some high heels and slap on some lipstick. A brave face is a beautiful thing.
Here is our guide to the crucial trends coming through to the UAE's shops this spring.