Commodities traders are not the only businessmen betting on gold these days; fashion designers are just as bullish on the metal.
“To get consumers out of hibernation, designers are bringing in the heavy artillery – gold,” says Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst with trend forecaster NPD Group. “It’s the number one thing that catches the consumer’s attention.”
Rebecca Lowthorpe, fashion features director at Elle UK, says: “Perhaps it’s thumbing our noses at recession or it’s simply about making women feel good, but there’s a real sense that more is definitely more.” She cites Olivier Rousteing at Balmain, who used the Fabergé egg – with its rivulets of pearls and lavish embroideries – for inspiration as a case in point.
She could have mentioned Bottega Veneta’s leather bomber jacket dyed to look like gold lamé, or Nancy Gonzalez’s first collection of matte gold bags out this spring, or almost anything at Dolce & Gabbana’s baroque-heavy autumn show, where everything was gilded, from corsets to sweeping capes, in homage to jewels, church interiors and holy processions.
“Gold reminds us of the sun of Sicily, the warmth of traditions and is very dramatic,” says Stefano Gabbana. “Gold is very versatile, yet it conveys security.” Domenico Dolce adds that the contrast between black and gold – as in their black lace coats and skirt suits boasting golden ecclesiastical embroidery – is especially dramatic.
Bruno Frisoni, creative director at Roger Vivier, says of his autumn collection, called Great Parisians: “Rich gold is important but with a nice patina that isn’t too bright. With deeper, dark colours it is very chic.”
Swimwear designer Maria Buccellati says gold “gives an essence of refinement”. Her brushed gold Buccellati cuff bracelets are almost the exact shade of the Nancy Gonzalez envelope clutch she recently acquired.
“A touch of gold suddenly feels so much more modern than silver,” says Anita Borzyszkowska, a London-based luxury goods consultant and recent gold convert, personally and professionally. She has been wearing her Céline gold pointy silhouette shoes with everything from jeans to a black pencil skirt. “There’s a quiet, elegant glamour to it, especially as clothes have become much simpler,” she says. Her client Luxup, the members-only club for luxury travellers, has joined forces with Marni to create a gold calfskin wedge.
Naeem Khan is a US-based Indian designer who has always used gold, as he did for the strapless dress Michelle Obama wore in 2009 to host her first state dinner for the Indian prime minister. “Gold doesn’t go out of fashion and looks super luxurious and rich,” he says. “How can you go wrong with that?” Khan’s grandfather wove his own gold thread in India. Khan has incorporated subtle techniques in his daywear for spring: gold leaf work on taffeta, panels of matte gold or shadow effects with gold thread.
Kate Phelan, creative director of Topshop, believes women are wearing gold in a new way: from day through to night. “Simple metallic touches keep items fresh, without being over-glamorous,” she says, noting that a gold brocade trouser worn with a black silk shirt is a perfect transition outfit.
Stylist Giovanna Battaglia, who’s been known to wear head-to-toe gold, has a different approach. “I love to wear gold accessories with a gold outfit because it makes me feel like a piece of jewellery myself,” she says.
And not just during the holiday season. According to NPD’s Cohen, the gold rush “will carry forward”. After all, as he points out, circa Christmas time, “red is expected but gold says we’ve raised the standard.”