x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Red-carpet fashion

The red carpet is usually the best place to see how seasonal trends work in real life and it gives an indication of fashion to come.

The red carpet is usually the best place to see how seasonal trends work in real life. Yes, really. Although you wouldn't exactly call an occasion like the Golden Globe Awards ordinary (being an A-list actresses-only type gig), it does give an indication of what is to come - and I'm talking frocks, not Oscars.

Oddly enough, in a season where eye-popping kaleidoscopic colour worn top-to-toe is making a comeback, the trend that continues to drag its heels is the one for nude hues, blush tones and watery pinks; the kind of colour you get when you leave a red sock in an all-white wash.

Although Angelina's sparkling emerald Versace Atelier or the red-carpet rookie Mila Kunis's green Vera Wang and Catherine Zeta Jones's equally green Monique Lhuillier frock should have ticked all the right boxes and stolen the show, it was, in fact, the laundry-disaster hues - is it beige/pink/gold/cream? - that came out winners.

Pantone, the global authority on colour used by all design industries, especially fashion, seem to back up the nude mood. They name coral rose, honeysuckle and beeswax as their top three spring 2011 colours (pea-pod green, lavender, blue Curaçao and silver romp in at fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh place).

Last week's spectacular Christian Dior Haute Couture show, which reworked 1950s classic shades of ice apricot, "Dior" dove grey, duck egg, tea, pale lemon and pink, slips into the Pantone palette nicely.

The best-dressed women at the Golden Globes channelled these ballerina neutrals in particular, Olivia Wilde in her palest pink Marchesa tulle gown.

Other women who notched up style points as a result of their choice of colour of gown, more than style, included Dianna Agron from Glee, in J Mendel, and Leighton Meester in her Burberry Victoriana-style nude. Two thoughts struck me after the awards. The first being who'd have thought there could be quite so many variations on the non-colour nude theme, secondly, how come so few actresses were brave enough to embrace the imminent colour explosion that is limping into fashion stores now?

I am heartened by the number of super brights starting to filter into shops in shades of tangerine, mauve and fuchsia championed on the catwalks by Lanvin, Jil Sander, Prada, Gucci and Marc Jacobs. I love the idea of layering scarlet, electric blue and hot pink over eye-popping orange and cobalt on models at a fashion shoot. I'm thinking birds of paradise, Talitha Getty circa 1971. And yet it doesn't make me want to colour-up in real life.

The nude feast at the Golden Globes hasn't helped. When even Versace, a brand synonymous with Warholesque combinations (which Gianni Versace virtually single-handedly made compulsory for fashion followers in the early 1990s) can't entice some of the prettiest women on the planet into theirs, who can? As for "Angelina" green? Let's just say we know why Chanel stops at green nail polish.

What we need is a transitional trend that is both stylish, gives a nod to colour and yet is wearable (ie won't make you look like a clown).

I saw the perfect compromise a few months ago at the preview of Gap's spring collection. Here acid pastels in Helmut Lang-style shades had been washed out almost entirely (but not quite) to reach a shade that just resembled the original colour. Patrick Robinson, the vice president of Gap's design team, called them "make-up shades", "blush-coloured neutrals" and "worn brights", ("created for busy women who want clothes that can be worn to go out straight from work to dinner to parties"). Makes perfect sense to me.

Ask any red-carpet veteran and they will tell you the scary truth about wearing overtly bright colours that have a nasty habit of "wearing" you, not always that well.

In contrast, nudes, blush and dirty pinks give the effect of a canvas on which you can build your own style. Add that Mulberry bright handbag or Lanvin necklace for fabulosity.

Another designer who has solved the brights versus nudes dilemma is Isabel Marant, whose everyday pieces such as her coral pink blazer worn over washed-out pale pink jeans punch colour into your wardrobe. The London designer Felicity Brown is another.

With less than a month to go before the Oscars (February 27) it will be interesting to see if brights finally put in an appearance or if nudes remain - as in real life - the new black.