At its best, fashion is a problem-solver. Don’t like the way your stomach pooches out? Try a peplum. Hate your thighs? Cover them up. But some issues are more intractable – or complicated, or simply lower priority – than others, so it was a nice surprise in the world off the runway to discover various designers analysing women’s needs, applying their imaginations and coming up with products that fixed hassles you probably didn’t even know you had.
Jeweller Delfina Delettrez, for example, put her mind to the difficulty of the bangle and the small-boned, or what to do when a wide bracelet slides down the wrist and repeatedly bangs against the hand (or falls off). She created an elevator grille cuff in gold and silver that expands wide enough to actually wear as a collar around the neck but can then be squeezed almost entirely closed at the wrist, at which point it’s not going anywhere. On anyone.
Delettrez, along with fellow gem-smiths Marie-Hélène de Taillac and Tom Binns, also addressed the task of injecting a little humour into the humdrum and the haute. She encased faux bees and other insects in giant resin beads that didn’t look anything like your grandmother’s pearls, created an “homage” to the now-ubiquitous Diana ring using moonstones and coloured sapphires that causes endless double takes, and offered an alternative to the sudden mass popularity of skulls in the form of a line entitled The Devil is in the Detail featuring a little grinning demon. Now you can be Goth but avoid being a lemming.
In shoes, the running-in-heels problem was dealt with by Bruno Frisoni at Roger Vivier via stacked-high loafer numbers in shiny leather with the brand’s signature buckle at the front and crepe rubber soles on the bottom, so soft and springy the shoes can be folded in half. He then spared a thought for technology users, who are often faced with the choice between cold hands and non-communication, by making a “muff bag” – a flat suede number folded into a tube and lined with fur, so fingers can be slipped inside for a quick warm-up between texts.
Finally, designer Lucien Pellat-Finet worked through the conundrum of how to produce unique pieces for a large audience by weaving two tones of felted cashmere together (green on green, blue on blue) in a process that produces varying patterns of stripes so that each piece is different. Neil Barrett attached his terrifically tailored military outerwear to inner vests; wear the latter, and the former rests oh-so-insouciantly (and firmly) on top.
“I saw all my friends clutching their coats around them,” he says, “and thought I’d try to help them out.” Judging by the reaction the idea received, it was more like answered prayers.