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Styles to die for

You know that black is back and the waist ' if youíve recently rediscovered

yours ' is the next big thing. But what do style mavens actually wear' Do the

industry players ' the muses, designers, editors and buyers who espouse the seasonís trends ' practise what they preach' Here, four fashion experts say how theyíve interpreted this winterís catwalk

trends, the idiosyncratic touches they have added, which styles are just for victims and what works in real life.

MILAN

Margherita Missoni,
granddaughter and muse of the Missoni founders

lThis season Iím embracing the whole Gothic vibe thatís everywhere at the moment, although Iím not so into all this black. Perhaps thatís not surprising when you consider that I come from a family that designs multicoloured knitwear. What really interests me is the influence of menswear that is increasingly apparent in womenís tailoring (part Eighties, part comfort clothing). I love the idea of a woman dressing in a masculine way, mixing mannish sweaters with something more restricted: wearing your boyfriendís wardrobe but customising it with brooches and belts. And while I donít care much for ladylike primness, I canít resist those puffy skirts, particularly at Oscar de la Renta and Lanvin. I love evening gowns but play them down by wearing them with simple sweaters.

Probably, the ultimate Gothic-inspired dress is by Yves Saint Laurent but I avoid black by opting for a rich, midnight blue. Itís easier to wear and more forgiving on your skin tone, particularly around the face ' and itís also more romantic. I would never go near mid-calf boots. You have to be very tall and have very skinny legs.

And I am not very taken with this whole Sixties revival. Instead, as well as Missoniís kimono-style belts with deep, cashmere V-neck sweaters, Iím also coveting a Dries van Noten teal belted coat, a Melií Meloí bag in metallic pink or the limited edition white, padded Chanel 2.55. For shoes, thereís the green Chlo' boots with chunky heels or velvet sandals at Marc Jacobs.

NEW YORK

Kristina OíNeill
Fashion features, director at Harperís Bazaar

Though I donít usually make lists of personal must-haves, I always have an idea of the big picture that is my closet. My shopping routine is to stumble into a store and discover an item. Despite having written and read that black is back or about the need for a waist-cinching belt, or why the Sixties trend should be avoided by anyone over 21, when I hit the stores my emotional shopping reflex takes over. Itís the moment when all how-to-ing flees the brain and instinct steps in. I really dissect the trends as a shopper and not a journalist. What black says about us as a culture doesnít matter ' what does is finding a piece that will go with all my Marni and won ít make me look like Morticia.

My gut is telling me that I need a little black dress from Yves Saint Laurent. I havenít worn much black in recent years, but instead of wearing it head-to-toe, Iíll pair it with a thick YSL belt in brown, black tights (Fogal) and my trusty brown crocodile Manolo Blahnik sandals. My musts are Derek Lamís long-sleeve boho-chic dresses in green (with a gold Lurex dot) and in white Swiss dot (with a black ribbon belt). The thought of thick-heeled boots anchoring anything sweet makes me happy. As far as a bag is concerned, my Chlo' Paddington still feels right, especially now that Iíve fully brainwashed myself into thinking that itís the Bohemian womanís Birkin.

My big ticket purchase will be a coat. My heart is set on a navy-blue, slightly military-esque coat from Chlo'. There are a few other random bits that will help to breathe life into what I already own. Flats are one. Dolce & Gabbana has a black suede pump with gold detailing that is ideal for running around town. Knits are also big, after so many seasons of blazers. I like the idea of a structured or belted knit over a chiffon dress as well as a few old cardies that I plan to pull out of the back of the closet.

PARIS

Sophie Albou
Designer and founder of Paul & Joe

A major look this winter is classic chic. You could roughly interpret this as what a young college woman (with a British edge) might wear. Thatís to say, chunky tweeds, perhaps a jacket mixed in with luxe velvet trousers and some super-soft cashmere. Accessories are also very important. I would make this look my own by adding colour. I love hot colours in winter! I would never dress in dark shades, head to toe. I hate all this black. There is far too much of it and, as if thatís not enough, black is layered on more black.

A favourite look is wearing an over-size, ochre, corduroy blazer and teaming it with a print shirt and some loose tweed trousers but finishing it off with super high heels. Oh and I love a roomy, cashmere knitted bag with pompoms ' these add such a twist to the season, which can also be found on cashmere capes. Rather than rushing out and buying a whole new wardrobe, there are ways to update your existing look. I suggest that you dig out all your traditional fabrics, such as tartans and tweed, and update them with dramatic accessories. Also you canít go wrong with an eclectic clash of prints.

Only fashion victims will wear the puff-ball. I canít fathom why youíd want to wear this shape, which cuts off your legs at their most unflattering point. And all that excess fabric! I also donít understand the rivets and grommets trend that Prada and Miu Miu pushed this season. I find it vulgar. Itís nearly as bad as the Goth look and those black, holey tights at Marc Jacobs. I prefer something more streamlined. Heaven would be a camel coat from Valentino or the crocodile bag from Bottega Veneta.

LONDON

Natalie Massenet,
Chairman and founder of Net-a-Porter.com

The most significant change in this seasonís trends is the return to ladylike sophistication. The simplest way to update your outfit is to get a belt and cinch it over a shirt or sweater. While there were elements of the ladylike look to last winterís Mitford/Bloomsbury style, it wasnít nearly as structured or polished. Weíre seeing the return of belted jackets, high waists and a very glamorous shoe ' a sort of slick, uptown New York glamour. Though fabrics are very luxurious, the colours are restrained, and while many of these looks will be copied on the high street, you wonít get the same quality.

This season is a great one for uptown women who want to buy some real investment pieces. The alternative would be to go down the Russian route, although again, this is still pulled off in a very opulent way. I was planning to wear my Prada pencil skirts from the last time around, which I would have teamed with V-neck sweaters and belted them at the waist. However, as Iím six months pregnant, Iíll play around with the empire line: Burberry Prorsum peajackets worn with slouchy dresses and lace-up boots would sort my weekend wardrobe, as would over-size cashmere sweaters from Missoni and Miu Miu.

Iím very into big, estate jewels, inspired by Wallis Simpsonís. They are the perfect foil if you are going to be wearing austere, high-waisted or restricted clothes in navy, black or grey (which can appear like a dull uniform). So you need something to lift the clothes. Over- size necklaces, Lanvinís lace- covered pearls or perhaps a leopard brooch is how I would put my stamp on outfits.

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