White is a major trend for this spring/summer – perfect for holidays and special occasions. Stephanie Smith talks whiter shades.
SEARCH for a definition of white, and the dictionaries begin to wax quite lyrical.
White is the colour of milk and fresh snow, we are told. As a symbol, white is the opposite of black, and represents light in contrast to darkness. White is associated with innocence, perfection, good, honesty, cleanliness, the beginning, the new, neutrality, lightness and exactitude.
In other words, for all its simplicity, white is actually rather complex – a colour produced by the reflection, transmission or emission of all wavelengths of visible light, without absorption.
Snow and clouds appear white because they are a mixture of air and tiny droplets or ice crystals. When white sunlight enters snow, almost all of the light is reflected or scattered by the air and water molecules, so the snow appears to be the colour of sunlight, white.
The magic of science – this is what informs fashion’s new take on the colour white, teaming the complex with the simple for a sophisticated and knowing take.
In truth, there has always been a knowing side to white – a playful approach that has nodded to its pure associations, but upended them to serve its own purposes. Think of the sophisticated white tailored trouser suits of Joan Collins and Bianca Jagger, worn with little more than a pair of high heels and a wicked smile.
There are several ways to play white this year, but the over-riding mood is sleek sophistication.
There are strong, sculptural shapes with bold origami lines and elegant tailoring, so try a long-line, one-button tuxedo jacket to team with both tailored and loose luxe white trousers.
Seek out tunics with curved, dipped hemlines at the back, and shirts and shirt dresses in drapey, rather than crisp, fabrics for a soft formality. A white shirt, paired with a long white sheer panel skirt, and a pair of clear or grey sandals, underlines the look perfectly.
Layering is key to this season’s white themes, with lace and transparent fabrics offering a contrary take, revealing and concealing, depending on your point of view.
But, even with lace, this is not a pretty or girly approach to white. Look for lace pencil skirts and fitted dresses, also long-sleeve fit-and-flare full skirt dresses (Giambattista Valli sent these down the runway for spring).
More romantic styles come in the form of 1970s-style billowing silks and chiffons (think Florence Welch) as an antidote to the dense white of strong tailored pieces, although the two work together, so try a flowing white skirt or dress with a long-line white tailored jacket.
As far as accessories go, look for white bags with strong lines and chunky white shoes and sandals, but also experiment with adding a flash of colour to white, especially with bags – bright orange or a rich powder blue.