x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Katie Trotter: Bohemian chic

How the 'hibo' is this autumn's must have look.

It probably isn't even possible to combine the traditions of bohemianism with those of a bourgeois society, but the fashion lot seemed to have managed it by coining this season's term "Hibo". No, it's not a nonsensical term I dreamed up, but one to define this season's more highbrow approach to bohemian style.

Lets face it, there's nothing remotely anti-establishment about this. If anything, it's more about posh girls' attempts at dressed-down; a catchy marketing term to get us to, of course, buy more.

Remember 2008? Rachel Zoe and all her little followers in maxi dresses with maxi hair wafting around in floaty numbers and floppy hats. Well it's back, sort of. After winter's more-is-more opulence, the industry has taken a step back.

If anyone can dictate a trend, it's Hedi Slimane, who, instead of sticking to the conventional YSL formula of austerity, brought a definite nod to the 1970s. Boasting bold leather belts, capes, oversized silk bows and floppy hats, he guaranteed the birth of a new era to the house, and the result was, in fact, rather beautiful. Roberto Cavalli, Reed Krakoff and Haider Ackermann all followed, adopting a new, transparent aesthetic using silks, featherweight chiffon organza and mousseline.

The problem is, we often forget about multi-layering here. Perhaps it's too hot, but we tend to stick to one piece. So where do we start? Firstly, forget throwing on a gypsy skirt and sandals and letting your hair run free, for there is a whole lot of work to go into getting the look right.

As I say, this isn't really boho at all, and it's more about carefully done hair and make-up, expensive accessories and spending a fortune on some beautiful designer pieces. We saw pastel eyeshadows in shades of lavender paired with thick, full and defined eyebrows and dewy flushed cheeks; hair was loose, if not well rollered and set.

Of course, all of this has to look like something you picked up from a street market in Morocco or northern India. All in all, a rather contrived hint of a person and wardrobe well-travelled. The mood is light, almost dreamlike in quality, starting with feathery trimmed knits and layer upon layer of fine degradé-dyed (one colour merging into another) chiffon. This is not a season for brash colour: try cream, blush, soft turquoise, salmon pink and soft sunny yellow, using accessories to pull it all together and avoid appearing washed out.

I'm afraid animal prints are not going anywhere soon, particularly snake skin that is best seen scattered across your ensemble in an unregulated pattern. Fine paisley prints will be your go-to, but remember that styling is crucial - the idea is to make your outfit look anything but put together.

That's where plenty of accessories come in: glinting, fine gold jewellery with motifs such as feathers or birds work well, as will a soft suede ankle boot with a stocky heel in navy or dark grey. You'll also need a cape (this season's must-have, despite the absurdity), possibly some expensive and intricate beading work and a small, neat shoulder bag from the likes of Mulberry or Chloé. And forget the zany oversized sunglasses that threaten to overtake the face and look for a small, wire-framed, vintage-inspired pair instead.

Intricate coloured embroidery - as seen across the board on the beautiful creations on the runway - is great, partly because the whole thing starts to look vaguely vintage, as though from a Parisian market or vintage dealer in west London, even though it was probably made in a factory in India. Oh well, I can guarantee no apologies from this lot on the matter, as I mentioned this is a season for the impostor.

ktrotter@thenational.ae