When summer comes

Lubna Abdel-Aziz , Tuesday 29 Mar 2022


It has been a tenacious and tough winter. Obstinate, unyielding, and unbending, it has been relentless in its cruelty, determined to torment even the bold and the brave.

We take some comfort in recalling the last line of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind”: “If Winter is here, can Spring be far behind?’ A few words rich with inspiration of hope and optimism. No matter how long it takes, spring will be able to push away the winter wind, allowing the sun to shine brighter than ever and warm our shrunken bones.

We shall welcome the golden sunrays with colours that will reflect our joy and gratitude. Fashion designers, conscious of how weary the world is after two years of lockdown and masked faces; of the strained political environment, and the long endless winter, have laid out their creations, to cheer us up. Inspired by the green foliage and the brazen sun, they have chosen colours that reflect this mood. They have as well allowed us the freedom we have so long missed.

Colour is everything. With the West wind departed we can dress from drab to fab.

The colours of the season are as bright as the midday sun, as cool as a refreshing glass of lemonade. Lime green is probably not a colour in your wardrobe, but it is new and original.

What is greener than green? It is Kelly green, the prime colour of the season. Kelly is a common Irish family name, evoking the image of the Emerald Isle and its rolling hills. Traditionally associated with Ireland, and “the wearing of the green” on St Patrick’s day.

Yuhan Wang highlighted the Kelly green, while Proenza Schouler looked straight up to the sun and chose orange for an impeccably tailored suit. Fancy that. It was cheered on the runway.

Dressing like the bold sunshine is more orange than an orange. Yellow is its little sister, both bright and dazzling, sweet and juicy as the fruits of summer.

Fashionistas are adventurous and often extremists. If you are one, or long to be one, pick the colour that takes centre stage this season, and probably for the rest of the year. It is the colour of the fuschia plant, often mistaken for hot pink. Hot pink was first introduced by Elsa Schiaparelli in 1947. Its glare and glimmer was as sensational then as it is now. Fuschia however, can only be created with light in red and blue wavelengths.

Valentino found the right shade of fuschia and if you do, you too will gleam and glow like a neon light at midnight.

Once we decide on the colour, we need to select a style. Choose between a chic and understated classic, or the new airy fashion trend. The latter is the freedom we have sorely missed, reflected in our dress.

Cut-outs were introduced several years ago, but have become bolder with the years. Sassy and daring, they can be seen on any part of the outfit. It is up to you to be modest or mod. Shy but fashion prone, go for the shoulder cut-outs, they make enough of a statement, without showing more than you wish.

 For more freedom, skirts are shorter than we have ever seen before. Forget the micro/macro mini, these shorts are even shorter. Fit for a 14-year-old in our opinion, you have the choice to go midi in a pleated skirt, you are bang — on the money.

It is no exaggeration that the season’s fashion of “show it all” is a reflection of our restricted lifestyle and social distancing of the past two years.

Bare midriffs are the rave, morning, noon and night. Cropped tops with slung low waists in skirts, pants, and jeans were a temptation no designer could resist, like Cynthia Rowley, Rodarte and even the elegant Tom Ford. If not mini-skirts then long ones, slit up to… there. We find this strictly for teenagers but do not be surprised if everyone else is tempted by the freedom it affords. These styles have been seen not only at Prada, Versace, Moschino, but at Dior and Max Mara.

Those big names are finding a good deal of competition from the young new-comers, who have reached stardom on their own and many of the raves were reserved for the likes of Jason Wu, Peter Do, David Koma and Yuhan Wang, try and remember those names. They are getting bigger by the day, according to buyers and fasionistas.

If you are not as tall as the models on the catwalk, you will be happy with this season’s selection of shoes. Flunky platforms are sky high as seen at St Laurent and Versace. The chunky heels help you keep your balance.

Tired of the dainty micro handbags of the past few years, rejoice. Big bags are bigger than ever, you can even put a baby in some of them, but not such good news for your poor back.

Jewellery elevates any look, chains are worn everywhere from neck to waist. Cuffs cover your arms and the bedazzling chokers are having a moment.

Eyes have always been make-up’s focus, but blush has taken over, not just for cheekbones, but all over your face.

Classic red lips are the rage, again.

How can we be distracted from this drab political environment, where everyone seems to have gone mad?

Fashion just might help make it a joyful summer.

“Even knowledge has to be in fashion and where it is not, it is wise to affect ignorance.”

 Baltasar Gracian (1601-1658)


*A version of this article appears in print in the 31 March, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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