Grand designs for 2011

For a fashion year that has been characterised in the main by restraint and pared-down minimalism, there sure is a whole lot of luxury and opulence around.

As for sequins, I'm not sure I've even seen so many before in one season. They are everywhere, used as tiny, exquisite embellishment detail right through to all-over, full-on, head-to-toe sequin glistening glory. Just check out the floor-length gold sequin dress, shown right here, under a faux fur coat, from Dorothy Perkins this season – an absolute showstopper of a gown with a luxe extravagance that could only be dreamed of once upon a time on the Christmas High Street.

This festive season offers rich and varied looks that draw on Deco of the Thirties, flamboyance of the Seventies, exuberant prim prom-ness of the Fifties and early Sixties, and a dark smattering of Eighties' Goth meets Twilight thrown in for good measure. Mix it all together and you've got a recipe for magical evening and party wear.

Despite the fact that 2010 has hardly been one long party, the High Street has been full of shine for months. But New Year is here now and that's the best excuse we've had all year to get dressed up. Mix brocades, satins and silks with fine black beading and faux fur stoles for a fabulous vintage look. Throw in feathers in the form of bags, hair slides and brooches.

Talking of brooches, look out for ones with huge faux gems (though real would work just as well) and don't forget to pick up a great big cocktail ring, spiky metallic if you are trying to toughen up Goth-style, glistening pretend ruby, sapphire or emerald if you want pure decadence.

Comb the vintage fairs, because this is where you will pick up gorgeous one-off pieces at favourable prices. The same applies to faux fur coats and jackets. You can keep it simple, with one statement dress or all-in-one, accessorised with jewels, clutch and heels, or you can play the layered card, flinging floaty blouses and scarves over lace, silk, and those sequins.

Forget the brash shine of the Eighties though, because these satins and sequins have a darker edge, not grungy as such, but with a certain gleaming and beautifully aged feel that suggests elegance rather than flash vulgarity. If you are worried that your dress or outfit is ever so slightly over the top, you can dress down by wearing a hoody over the top, or a leather jacket, or tweed. Velvet, meanwhile, is a great alternative to shine, both cosy and luxurious. You can add sparkle with your accessories.

So shine on New year.

Please note that some items may now be in sale.


When scouring the sales, look out for bargains you can carry through to next season. Trends for spring 2011 include a glamorous 1970s flowing look (think Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde) with wide-leg trousers, elegant blouses and chiffon scarves, plus a continuation of Fifties' and early Sixties' prim trends (think Mad Men), and some Little House on the Prairie floral prints with lace edging.

ROCK CHICK: Fearne Cotton in an Alice by Temperley dress, 245.

LAYERED: Gold sequin full-length dress, 150, fake fur coat, 85, heels, 38. Dorothy Perkins.

SHORTS: Gold bag, 45; gold sequin shorts, 45; blouse, 38; kaftan, 45.

style queen: Coleen Rooney in gold brocade dress, 79 and sequin shoes, 45, available December and January at

GOLDEN GODDESS: Gold draped Grecian style tunic dress, 290 (before sale), Halston Heritage at Harvey Nichols Leeds (sale now on).