So it is with ski wear. As Gucci climbed out of the nocturnal urban scene and into the Alps when snow failed to fall, Moncler, sensing that mountain gear is reaching meltdown, transported their ski jackets from the peaks to the streets. And all sorts of designers – even Missoni – have made the protective nylon hood into a city accessory. This snow glam is accompanied by Johann Johansson’s frigid, plinky Icelandic soundtrack, although Jil Sander’s cardigan edged in icicles of silver is more likely to be seen at a rave-revival in Hoxton. Displaced elegance is a comforting idea because it is a doit-yourself fashion trend. It does not necessarily require the skills of a Marni stylist to put a nylon zipper top underneath a tailored jacket; nor to have the fluffy surface of a mohair sweater (as at Burberry) pulled down below a suit sleeve. But this is not another flea market story. The aristocratic elements are not meant to resemble the faded remnants of an old regime, but are rather something brand new. It could mean wearing Allessandro dell’Acqua’s stylish cummerbund
with fitted-waist jeans, but any old provincial evening wear department could come up with one of those pleated satin waist whittlers. Even your own cupboard might yield a forgotten pinstripe waistcoat, that could now be teamed with a brand new partner: the puffa jacket. All sound too tricksy? Well, the knack is to use only one element at a time, and to realise that the trend is towards upscale, not dressing down. While the sloppy blousonand-baseball cap belongs to Bill Clinton’s generation, the vital elements now are sartorial: Church’s shoes with denim; pin-striped trousers above the latest trainers. A bowler hat with a nylon anorak? Now that could be üüber-cool.
Suzy Menkes is Fashion and Style Editor of the International Herald Tribune