Lets hear it for the folk revival. Yes, this is the same boho trend of last summer and the winter before. Isn't it strange, in a season dominated by sharp tailoring and sombre black lace, that folk, with its spirit-lifting colours and optimistic prints is stronger than ever? Or perhaps, given the current economic climate this is precisely why its back in fashion (again). If you were to ask me what to go for given the economy, Id say investment pieces and tailored suits. Ive already styled countless folk fashion shoots this month which look really hip, but I know that anyone who isn't pin thin and extremely beautiful in that 1960s rock chick sense will look overdressed, and anyone over 30 will look simply daft.
At least, this is what I keep telling myself. Yet every time I see something tasselled or embroidered in a boutique, especially ponchos, I get far more excited than I do about sensible tuxedo jackets or well-cut evening trousers. The thing about folk, which is why its such a perennial bestseller, has less to do with age and more to do with attitude. Certain women and men who haven't stopped wearing it since it first burst onto the fashion scene in the late 1960s are some of the most stylish people I know. Worn correctly paired down rather than piled on like fancy dress it can be extremely flattering and youthful.
Although I have never actually owned a shaggy yeti coat, a billowing embroidered maxi dress or a pair of cowboy boots, I hope to one day. I do own a Roberto Cavalli for H&M folksy-style smock dress in red Ikat cotton voile with tiny mirrors dotted around the hem, which I would rate as the most feel good piece in my entire wardrobe. It looks like it has a social life all of its own. I wear it over skinny jeans (the new Citizens of Humanity Birkin, which come in a double-knit cotton with stretchy Lycra and could almost pass for leggings) because its way too short, even with opaque tights.
I have this theory that Kate Moss gets the street cred she does because she pulls off casual so well. Part of her secret is her passion for folk and the way she narrows her palette to sombre ink: black, grey and brown. This explains how she gets away with wearing a gilet and fringed bootees, which, we all know, are from the season before last. That feeling of freedom which folk unleashes in the wearer is the other reason it sells (and sells). Yes, tailoring is flattering and sends out all the right signals but folk is fun. It doesn't work top-to-toe, so dipping in to it makes you appear chic and totally switched on. For example, I wore a simple little black dress to a book launch last week with a gigantic folk ring strikingly similar to Dior's Milly Carnivora but from Topshop along with a jangly Native American necklace Id picked up in an art gallery in Colorado. It was just the ticket for this particular after-work do, which included a few kooky celebs and fashion journalists. Most, if not all, women present had embraced folk just as I had and gave me a knowing wink. No one, I might add, was wearing a power suit as offered on most autumn/winter 2008 catwalks. Right now, who wants to look like they are a banker or worse a hedgefunder?
The author, India Knight, was wearing a particularly clever fashion hybrid, a 1940s style pencil skirt suit with a distinct, folksy Russian feel teamed with staggeringly high heels. The Thrift Book, her latest offering, offers several quirky ways to beat the credit crunch. Shes right. There is a backlash to looking like a Park Avenue Princess, however; fashion has a habit of thriving even in the hardest of times. For now its folk, which allows you to dress up and go a bit crazy without splashing out a fortune. Add to this some of the latest glittering Naars eyeshadow, which looks like its been hewn from ground up moon rock, and you really are ready to party.