There are three key ways to wear it; the first, and most challenging, is colour-blocking. The colour blocking trend has no time for last season’s camel shades, and focuses solely on the collaboration of shocking colours. Ignore all the colour rules: Jil Sander was bold enough to put pastel orange, bubblegum pink and royal blue onto a single model. For those of you who are not quite as daring, Marios Schwab’s tangerine and sky blue collection was a more wearable take on the trend- more complementary than clashing. But, remember, as Muiccia Prada put it, “It’s time to be bold.”
The second is a simpler take on colour blocking, a combination of calm neutrals and intense tones- this will feature most prominently in high street fashion and has already appeared in Topshop’s latest collection. Marc Jacobs added his own pop of colour this season with tangerine handbags and heels, which jumped out against his camel dresses. Many other designers also incorporated zest into their collection and it appears that if one is to invest in any bright this season, orange is it.
The third, seen on the catwalks of Stella McCartney and House of Holland, is prints. Strong patterns played a big part this season, as did more oriental styles, showcased by both Vuitton and Galliano. This is a trend that has also come from the current Seventies revival believed to be influenced by Yves Saint Laurent, whose death shook many a famous name. Following his passing in 2008, The New York Times called him ‘A Master Colourist’ and led on to praise his ability to ‘mix green, blue, rose and yellow in one outfit to achieve an effect that was artistic and never garish.’ His 1976 ‘Ballet Russes’ collection prominently boasted vivid shades and styles, but it is the iconic ‘Opium’ fragrance adverts that are said to have made the strongest impact on Spring/Summer 11.
The perfume campaign showcased models donning indulgent, flamboyant shades of amythest, emerald and sapphire and was created with a woman whose life was rich in ‘exoticism and secrets’ in mind. YSL launched a younger edition of the classic in 2010, named ‘Belle D’Opium’, prompting fashion-forward blog Styleite to claim that the 1970s would soon celebrate fulminant revival. The scent attracted younger consumers, thanks to the presence of fashion icons Alexa Chung and the Olsen twins at its launch, and French actress Melanie Thierry, who is younger than the original fragrance, fronting the campaign. This new addition, combined with the classic that is Opium itself, has created a broad spectrum of appeal for the Opium style. This is respectful to Saint Laurent’s philosophy of appealing to what the people are currently interested in: “My small job as a couturier,” he once said, “is to make clothes that reflect our times.” During the time in question, the 1970s, fashion clung to the idea of escapism, which produced the exotic hues associated with the era. People wanted to look back on romantic, happier times and use fashion as a way to distance themselves from the grimness that was everyday life. There was increasing oil prices, severe financial constraints, higher tax, student riots, and of course, a recession. Sound familiar? It should do. And it appears, once again, designers are opting to create an illusion of freedom and escapism in their designs- hence the bright oriental prints we have seen scattered throughout the collections of those such as Dries Van Noten. We should not forget that some designers have chosen to update the look by taking it up a notch from mere brights. Christopher Kane, who describes his latest collection as “Princess Margaret on acid”, sent fluorescent leather and prints down his runway. If the thought of neon induces a mid-Noughties clashing nu-rave flashback, fear not. “Most women feel neon is not very versatile, but the opposite is true” says Zeba Lowe, ASOS Fashion Editor. The pop of neon now appearing in most high street stores is starting to create a lively summer vibe and it appears that the fashion world, at least, is looking on the bright side.