Fashion talk: Usually a quiet month, this year fashion is in tune with June
June is usually a "limbo" month. Dress codes are set in stone. It's too early for new season trends to kick in. Overall, not a lot happens. But this is no ordinary June. From the outset it has been a flurry of new launches, new names, new discoveries (including the world's oldest shoe, found in the mountains of Armenia and dating back 5,500 years) and fashion news generally.
The online shopping giant, net-a-porter, chose June to announce the birth of Mr Porter, a menswear site to be launched in January. The American designer, Ralph Lauren, chose the mid-year mark to sell off a chunk of his empire, netting him a reputed $900m (Dh3.3bn). Daphne Guinness, on the other hand, was in a buying mood, snapping up the entire lot of an auction of Isabella Blow's clothes - including 90 Alexander McQueen frocks and 50 Philip Treacy hats - due to be sold by Christie's this September.
Sandwiched in between the resort season (where Albert Elbaz put fuchsia back on the radar in Paris and Ports 1961 in New York signalled a return to gritty androgyny) came, equally crucially, Graduate Fashion Week in London. With two new names recently added to the international arena (Sarah Burton has taken up the reins at Alexander McQueen and Giles Deacon is newly ensconced at Ungaro), I took my seat wondering if I was going to witness the debut of the next Stella McCartney or Karl Lagerfeld. Why not? If ever there was an event likely to produce a fashion superstar this was it. For several decades British art schools and universities have been supplying the industry at all levels with designers. The four-day event, the largest of its kind in the world, where 21 colleges stage catwalk shows onsite (several big names, such as the Royal College of Art and Central St Martins, show elsewhere independently), is not just an excuse for talent-spotting (Rihanna's stylist was in the audience along with Alberta Ferretti), but also cribbing up on new trends from the style stars of tomorrow.
What struck me this year was not so much who as what had inspired them. Not trailblazing designers such as Riccardo Tisci or Christophe Decarnin, but popstrels such as Lady Gaga, movies such as Twilight and Avatar, and the technological innovation behind the Apple iPad. Besides waistlines creeping higher and an overall roomier silhouette, the focus was almost entirely on mind-blowing fabrics. I was particularly impressed with the work of students from the University of Salford (a trendy leftfield player gaining clout within the industry).
One Salford graduate, Alex Dubell, created the nearest I've ever seen to 3D clothes, with sliced felty cut-outs that stood away from the body. Charlotte Lee Taylor had incorporated strips of LED lighting into sculpted bodysuits. Although Bashir Aswat, the head of fashion design at the university, confided that some lights had "fused" during the finale, the effect was still striking. So now you know what the crucial accessory of the future will be: spare bulbs.
*** The World Cup is dominating fashion conversation. Quite right when you think that, historically, the event has given us its fair share of fashion legacies, from footballer's haircuts to perforated polyester strips. South Africa 2010 heralds the "it" boot. Oh, come on. You must have noticed the flashes of bright orange (they also come in purple) on the feet of the World Cup's finest? Never mind the Adidas Jabulani ball, for soccer sartorialists it's all about the boots. Look out for Adidas's Aduzero's and Puma's PowerCats and Nike's fabulous Mercurial Vapor Superfly II. After all, why should the Wags have all the fashion fun in football?