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With stripes back in style, learn to make them work, not widen

Katie Trotter assures us there is no need to fear this season's bold nautical stripes.

Unless you have been hiding under a rather large rock for the past few weeks (or unless you are simply a bitter cynic who feels fashion is a load of old tripe), you will know that bold stripes are the go-to for this summer. They're the love child of colour blocking (which if you have been following my column you should be well up to date on) and - to drop a name - Dennis the Menace. As I've mentioned before, this season is not for sissies.

This is a look where fashion meets the French Riviera. Think garden parties, sailors, British deck chairs and the like, all done in heart-racing carnival colour combinations. You see, these are not the kind of stripes we are used to. While Spring 2011 was (once again) awash with the nautical trend, it was stripes in vivid colour mixes such as effervescent green and navy, and orange and red, that took centre stage on the runways of Prada, Marc Jacobs and Jil Sander.

Traditionally bold horizontal stripes have had a classic preppy feel. Think posh rugby types with popped collars and boat shoes, and of course there is the more commonly-used masculine pinstripe; think Marlene Dietrich.

This season, however, we are looking more at a bold "Hey, look at me" stripe that is reminiscent of the Sixties beatniks, perhaps even giving a nod to the Eighties punks.

Stripes terrify most of us. It's only natural - a mean trick that your eye plays when it looks left to right rather than up and down, making us appear, well, wider. But if you are clever this can be challenged.

Try a deep V or scoop neck, as this shows a little more skin and breaks up the solid feel of the look. Add a strong tailored jacket, or beat the eye at its own game and distract with a wide belt with a large buckle. Stay clear of any extra bulk and stick to fine silk and chiffon or basically anything that doesn't cling.

Stripes are a great change of scenery in a season rife with bubble-gum girlie sweetness. Unlike soft frills and ballet-inspired drapery, there is a hardness there, a masculine edge in that the lines are squared off.

Give it a go: breaking the mould in a fairly directional season lends itself to old-fashioned mystique. In short, you can still be achingly feminine without dotting your I's with a heart.

More fashion advice from Katie Trotter.

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M-ometer

This week's highs and lows.

Reliable Ricky Givenchy's current designer, Riccardo Tisci, is confirmed as Dior's new man.

Fascinator lookout Let's change it up for this year's Dubai World Cup and break the feather/glitter fascinator mould, ladies.

Naval orders We love Moschino's nod to the navy in its A/W 2011 collection.

Polo necks A comeback at CÚline, but they're still winter's most unflattering top.

Lovely leggings We couldn't be happier that our fail-safe wardrobe staple is trendy again, as seen at D&G.

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Fashion Forward: Thoughtful tailoring at Asudari

The womenswear label Asudari showcased a collection that featured sharp masculine tailoring, but with feminine silhouettes.

Styled with bleached bobs and pale skin, the models wore clean and sporty separates reminiscent of the chic workwear of The Hunger Games.

Designer Lamia Asudari says she was influenced by Delftware ceramics from the 16th century, as well as the imagery of weaponry and artillery. Indeed, pistols, grenades and guns were emblazoned over jackets and dresses.

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Fashion Forward: At Starch, watermelon shirts, anyone?

“We need to cultivate our own fashion heroes — our own regional brands,” stressed Fashion Forward’s honcho Bong Guerrero in a press con two weeks ago.

Aptly, the slot for this season’s opening runway show was given to two newbies: Jo Baaklini and Timi Hayek, whose talents were scouted by Starch, a group dedicated to launching emerging Lebanese designers.

Between the two, Mr Baaklini had a stronger showing.

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Fashion Forward: Jean Louis Sabaji’s debatable debut

Jean Louis Sabaji’s collection was very good when the tricks were toned down — like the simple white jumpsuit with a sculptural neckpiece, the floral crop top, and the radiant yellow pleated skirt.

But most of the time he went too far. There were bell-bottoms, separates that looked like costumes from The Jetsons, and a yellow dress reminiscent of Bjork’s infamous Oscars swan dress — several disparate elements in one multicoloured, multilayered show.

 Launched in 2009 by childhood friends Arwa Abdelhadi and Basma Abu Ghazaleh, Kage bills itself as a label whose “ultimate goal is to design a collection appealing to all.” Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Kage pleases all palates

Did the designers of Kage aim to showcase every type of basic clothing on their latest show?

Because there were skirts, shorts, trousers, off-shoulder tops, short dresses, cocktail dresses, long flowy dresses, spaghetti straps, jackets, hoods — and even pyjamas, which with the incoming summer heat, looked especially appealing.

Launched in 2009 by childhood friends Arwa Abdelhadi and Basma Abu Ghazaleh, Kage bills itself as a label whose “ultimate goal is to design a collection appealing to all”, they said in their statement.

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The coats and capes were the clear winners: they came in all sorts of interesting colours and sizes — and featured exceptionally tailored proportions. There was a lot of volume, but also stiffness.

And whimsy: two favourites were a green double-breasted suit and a blue overcoat with a red clover pattern and gold buttons.

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Turns out the Filipino designer Ezra, known for his dreamy couture, still had a few surprises up his sleeve.

Midway through his show, snow started falling from the ceiling.

It created a starkly beautiful atmosphere for his intricately constructed gowns that seemed to be designed for an Ice Queen transported back to the 1950s.

He showed a collection that had a lot of technical firepower behind it: glittering iridescent fabrics paired with head and neckpieces that were moulded and stiffened to stand out in odd angles.

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