April 15, 2011 10:03 pm

Hot tropics

 
Models wearing tropical clothes

From left: designs by Moschino Cheap & Chic; Christian Dior; Stella McCartney; Prada; Louis Vuitton

What? Get yourself a cocktail and place a flower behind your ear; tropical style is hula-ing into spring. It’s got a how-to guide too: Carmen Miranda’s 1943 movie The Gang’s All Here, a Busby Berkeley vehicle starring Miranda in signature tutti-frutti hat, dance routines with several hundred giant plastic bananas, and a seven-minute number called “The Lady in the Tutti Frutti Hat”. Now, nearly 70 years later, Miranda’s tropical style – bright colours, fruity motifs and, crucially, a cheeky wink – is back.

Where? Miranda’s summer breeze was the runway counter balance to the season’s 1970s sirens. Prada led the tributes with monkey-and-banana-prints (designer Miuccia Prada even took her bow wearing plastic banana earrings), while Stella McCartney and Moschino Cheap & Chic embraced oranges and lemons, and Céline’s latest ad campaign features a giant strawberry. Elsewhere, Giles Deacon used a Takashi Murakami-style hibiscus print, and hothouse flowers bloomed at Dior, Jonathan Saunders, Louis Vuitton and Vanessa Bruno. Off the catwalks, pop stars VV Brown and Paloma Faith have both proudly worn fruity headpieces, while Charlotte Dellal sported a banana clutch and fruit cocktail-style shoes (clutch, £170, shoes, £1,265, pictured below) from her own Charlotte Olympia label. Never outdone, fashion’s current style crush, editor-at-large of Japanese Vogue Anna Dello Russo (also pictured at the bottom of the page), has made a cherry headpiece and strawberry-printed YSL blouse a trademark look.

Why? After a batten-down-the-hatches approach to dressing, it’s time to let loose a little. Tropical style is the wild cousin of camel: rather than blending into an (extremely tasteful) background, dressing tropically, as Dello Russo can attest, will make you stand out. “When the people look at me and my cherry hat, I just smile,” she says. “The most important thing with fashion is for it to be fun.” Whoopee.

Should you invest? Take a tip from Averyl Oates, buying director at Harvey Nichols, who advises taking a fruit cocktail approach to the trend and customising to taste. “There are opportunities to spread this look across your wardrobe,” she says. “Using the right accessories will help make it your own.” Oates recommends Jonathan Saunders’ designs, which combine Hawaiian flower prints with neutrals, as an easy approach to the aesthetic. Hot pinks and zinging violets à la Marc Jacobs and Jil Sander are options for “the corporate dress code”, or certainly a cocktail party. Think city-friendly as well as island paradise – that way, you’ll get pieces that last beyond unpacking.

Meanwhile, contemporary brands have also embraced the look, with Suno and Sea New York both producing pineapple prints, and Antipodium going hothouse-steamy. For an even more disposable approach, there’s also the high street, which loves an easily identifiable trend. Oasis provides a rather kitsch – and possibly irresistible – cherry satchel (two trends in one?) for £26, as well as work-friendly shifts (£65) with orchid-style flowers. Topshop has a sweet Hawaiian-print sun top (£25), and French Connection’s take manages to bridge ditsy florals and exotica together in weekend-around-town tunics (£47). These pieces could turn out to be one-season wonders, but then, tropical is the ultimate in summer style, after all.

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