x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

A new generation of 'It' girls is finding its own style

The ill wind blowing in with the global credit crunch brings with it an entirely new fashion vibe

Have you heard that celebrity chic is going out of fashion? The ill wind blowing in with the global credit crunch brings with it an entirely new fashion vibe. It's not so much that celebrity chic is over, as it is that the famous faces associated with trendsetting for so long somehow no longer fit post-recession austerity chic. Time's up for Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna, Paris Hilton, Renée Zellweger and Victoria Beckham - those stars noted for their reliance on big name designers/stylists rather than their individuality. Looks like it's not just the multinational corporations who may fall victim to the credit crunch.

There's no doubt we are entering a wobbly time when it comes to image. I kind of get the idea behind the new Chanel adverts, where the millionaire supermodel Claudia Schiffer hides her supermodel blonde locks under a black wig, and dons fingerless gloves and a boho hobo get-up. I'm just not sure it works. There's a time and place for shabby chic. On the corner of Haight and Ashbury circa 1967, perhaps? Not mid-October 2008. It is bad enough to have to read daily reports of closures, particularly of clothing brands. Surely we don't need reminding how bad it could get. I still can't decide if Vivienne Westwood was joking by putting "make do and mend" notes advising how to make clothes from old curtains and duvets on the seats of her Paris show. There's nothing like a scary financial climate to crank up the creative juices and break down stereotypes about how only things we throw money at can be stunning. Take the Fiat 500, which has been beefed up, remodelled in shiny red and is now considered sexier than an E-Type Jag. The Noughties have been an era where visually arresting style is often overlooked by anything boasting a colossal price tag, where wearing the latest "It" dress or carrying a YSL Muse handbag speaks volumes about your personal style. As we enter an era of financial uncertainty, we need style icons to not just be refreshingly entertaining when it comes to improvised dressing but, dare I say, optimistic. Watching Valentine Fillol-Cordier, the 23-year-old model and DJ, "out-pap" the entire front row at Chanel made me forget about doom and gloom share prices. Not bad considering she was wearing the simplest denim jacket pulled over a crunchy white cotton dress and wooden platforms - a boyish, posh, French version of Kate Moss. No wonder Christopher Niquet, one of the most influential global stylists around, hovered by her side as if to say, "hands off she's mine". She has the style potential to rival greats like Jackie O or Grace Kelly.

Over in Hollywood, Rumer Willis, the 19-year-old offspring of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis, is being groomed for great things. Sporting a hairdo spookily similar to the one worn by her mother in the movie Ghost, but in a shade of ripe conker, Rumer is not nearly as pretty as her mother. However, she is edgier, dresses with a quirky playful rebellion and is curvier. All of which, I reckon, adds up to a role model for our times. Another young woman to watch is the beautiful, blonde, former model-turned-philanthropist Lydia Hearst. The 23-year-old heiress to the publishing fortune slips nicely into the shoes vacated by the vacuous Paris Hilton. Lydia was fast-tracked to supermodel status after Steven Meisel put her on the cover of Italian Vogue for her first-ever shoot. Between organising fundraising benefits for Darfur and speaking for human rights in Africa, she has made her acting debut in the cult TV show Gossip Girl.

Other new "It" girls include Leigh Lezark, the raven-haired American DJ who was a permanent front row fixture at Paris Fashion Week; Jen Brill, the girlfriend of the photographer Terry Richardson and girl-about-Manhattan, and the saucy singer Katy Perry. Despite the fact designers are queuing up to dress them, they do their own thing. Same goes for Isabel Lucas, the former soap star, and her fellow Australian actress Abbie Cornish, both of whom are the breath of fresh air that fashion - and Hollywood - has been gagging for.

We all know there are hard times ahead but there will be great frockwatching, too. Bring it on.