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In lieu of loaded frocks, we wish celebs would wear what they like

When it comes to awards show fashions, Katie Trotter finds that the red carpet has more drama and intrigue than any of the nominated films.

So the Oscars have come and gone and the "mega-stylists" Rachel Zoe, Arianne Phillips et al can settle into a life slightly more bearable for the next 11 months.

Let me explain. For most of us the equation is a simple one: we like a dress, it makes us look and feel good, we buy it, we wear it.

But for stylists, dressing A-list flesh on the big night is tenuous, on a foundation less stable than the Ring of Fire. Why? Because luring the "right face" into the "right dress" can mean millions of dollars in turnover.

The world of the celebrity wardrobe, while entertaining, is more often than not incoherent and confusing.

Forget about good old-fashioned "looking good" and think more about moving, walking, swooshing billboards, for the modern celebrity is simply the peacock of the advertising world.

Which is just about when the whole thing starts to get a little weird. Celebrities are cleverly steered in either of two directions. First is choosing the most boring dress doing the rounds (if your publicist wants you to go mass market). Think Claire Danes in sugar-pink Calvin Klein or Anne Hathaway in red. Second, go all out in something obviously hideous (if your publicist wants you in Vogue). Think January Jones at the Emmy Awards in a blue monstrosity.

Now I am not placing blame - and who knows if actual money is thrown around - but don't think for a minute that a few "Oh, and you can keep the diamond necklace" aren't tossed about.

Which, of course, brings me to the British royal wedding. Because rumour has it Kate Middleton will be wearing the boundary-breaking Alexander McQueen - which poses a whole other set of rules. Simply look at the uproar that surrounded Michelle Obama for snubbing American designers and daring to wear a dress from a British label to a state dinner for China's president.

Personally, I've given up on excuses why I don't give a toot what Kate will wear on the big day and (in this case) have just started in with the blame. There's plenty to go around. You see, women in the British Royal Family who draw attention to themselves seem to be promptly excluded, while those who remain somewhat shackled to the humdrum of middle-class England seem to please the punters and to project an air of contentment.

It's simply not about the clothes any more. Celebrity style has become a parody of itself. We know the stars have all been briefed and bribed, which leaves the whole taste somewhat sour. How about they go back to wearing something they actually like? Now there's a thought.

 

m-ometer

This week's highs and lows.

CINCHING WITH STRUCTURE  Alexis Mabille's ornate belts are on our shopping list for next season.

RED HOT The model Lindsey Wixson had an allergic reaction after the Viktor & Rolf show and couldn't walk for several big-name designers. Could it be the face paint?

FALLON JEWELLERY The punk-inspired designs are now available at Symphony, Dubai Mall.

GIVE US A BREAK Even with Blake Lively's much talked-about Chanel campaign, we're struggling to care. Overkill?

GREAT DRAPES Haider Ackermann's A/W 2011 show was all about beautiful draped clothing.

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

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.

 Several of Jo Baaklini's pieces featured fruit prints. Courtesy Getty Images

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.

 Jean Louis Sabaji’s collection was very good when the tricks were toned down — like the simple white jumpsuit with a sculptural neckpiece. Stuart C. Wilson / Getty Images

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.

 The standout was a grey hooded cape that created a tension between edge and elegance. Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Polish, craft (and fur!) at The Emperor 1688

The best show of Day 1 at Fashion Forward was delivered by the three Golkar brothers behind The Emperor 1688.

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.

 Midway through Ezra's show, snow started falling from the ceiling. Ian Gavan / Getty Images for Fashion Forward

Fashion Forward: Ezra stuns in snow-covered show

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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