x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

For the new year, try a different kind of wardrobe detox

This season is not simply about the shiny and new. Here are five keepsakes to haul out now.

New year, new clothes, right? Before you roll up your sleeves to embark on that rigorous annual wardrobe detox, you might first want to consider a major trend playing out in fashion.

This season is not simply about the shiny and new. It's not about overhauling your wardrobe and gearing up to shop for a whole new wardrobe of frocks and handbags. It requires a modicum of reflection on the past to arrive at the modern and present.

I spent the past few days removing last season's catwalk images from noticeboards in my office but - unusually - had to stop myself from mechanically replacing them with runway images from this spring.

It's no longer as easy as that. Instead, I've posted a collage of current spring/summer advertising campaigns from Louis Vuitton and Prada, steeped in nostalgia, alongside pictures of rock stars including Patti Smith and Mick Jagger, and celebrity photos, including the Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor wearing a Manish Arora dress (India gets a starring role in fashion this season), as well as Britney Spears in a Falguni & Shane Peacock dress worn in her video for Hold It Against Me.

The current "look", if you can call it that, is not so much retro, but rather more of layering modernity over something recognisably plucked from the past.

Paris Vogue - always a great litmus test of our time - nails it on its December/January cover, featuring Kate Moss with shaved-off eyebrows and spiky red hair, as David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust days. Stalwart Bowie fans will be horrified by the inaccuracies of the soft-focus image by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott. And this is precisely why it works.

Two talking points in high fashion also currently concern themselves with the juxtaposition of old and new, time travelling and icons in equal dollops.

First, there's the Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum, a remarkable digital exhibit housing the wrinkly designer's five-decade archive (downloadable as an app from valentino-garavani-archives.org).

Meanwhile, the very new phenomena of pre-autumn 2012 collections - marked with particular gusto by Karl Lagerfeld's "Paris-Bombay" feat and Philip Lim's pre-autumn homage to the 1960s pop artist Roy Lichtenstein - threatens to obliterate the spring/summer 2012 ranges that precede them.

Even the global trend fashion-forecasting oracle WGSN is talking about "reinvented classics" - in particular, toffee-brown and cinnamon shades, which last bleeped on the radar around 1970, thanks to Biba.

Iconic doesn't have to mean ancient either. I've heard it used to describe the distinctive anthem-like Paradise track recently released by Coldplay. This, or Aloe Blacc's 2010 hit I Need a Dollar are ideal soundtracks for spring 2012, morphing the old with the new with ease.

I recently visited the London offices of Coppernob, a fashion manufacturer that supplies much of the mass market, including high street chains such as Dorothy Perkins, New Look and Wallis and department stores, including Debenhams, El Corte Ingles and Bhs.

As I flipped through rails of clothes destined for shops globally, I was surprised to see what is perhaps the most recent fashion icon: that bodycon hourglass dress attributed largely to Roland Mouret's spring 2006 collection.

This was reworked in a huge assortment of ways, thanks to modern prints, bleached luminescent pastels or asymmetric hemlines and sleeves, ready for delivery around June 2012. This has been Coppernob's best-selling dress for five summers and looks set comfortably to go for a sixth.

Back to that wardrobe detox, though. If you have any of the following five keepsakes, haul them out now:

1. The hourglass dress. Not so much back by demand as always in demand. Designers from Elie Saab to Antonio Berardi have put one in their spring/summer 2012 collection. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to see why this dress continues to outsell rivals. It looks better on women with curves.

2. Tribal necklace. Purchased on a whim on holiday and resigned to the back of a drawer? A necklace says "I've made an effort" - even if you haven't. Earrings are fiddly. Bracelets don't punctuate. Google the jeweller Assad Mounser for inspiration.

3. Rock star jacket. Think Prince and Michael Jackson, not tuxedo man Michael Bublé. Big shoulders bristling with brocade, fancy buttons, studded with rivets or dripping in tassels. Leather or beaded, it's not so much about fabric as doubling as fancy dress.

4. Spindle heel court shoe (preferably with pointy toe). Platforms can look mutton-ish or top-heavy. Styles by Roger Vivier or the ultimate, Manolo Blahnik, are always one step ahead.

5. Sunglasses. Big, bold and empowering.

Julia Robson is a London-based fashion journalist, broadcaster and stylist

artslife@thenational.ae