So... Do we hate or love spring's Burberry Prorsum?
We knew someone was bound to kill the black minimalism (indeed, only Calvin Klein's Fransisco Costa really held onto it - and even Wang turning to optimistic white with the humour of bronze 'ducktape'..). New York saw Peter Som sending out microskirts in a typically-Nineties bright colour scheme while Marc Jacobs dug out the richest colours of the seventies for a disco-comeback worthy its editor-dubbed name.
Hand in hand with surprising colour (inevitably, everyone's lips will have formed the words "economic recovery") came the return of the Almost Tacky: Even Ralph's all-Americanism had that little 'too much' hanging over its fringes, and Anna Sui followed with a countryside hippie theme that hasn't seen daylight to the same extent since the ripped-jeans frenzy of 2002. Halston's newly appointed Marios Schwab subsequently felt free to send out this kind of dresses on the catwalk.
In a sense, it is a new elegance - reinforced by Gucci during Wednesday's Milan show. Slinky fabric flow has its roots in the Seventies, and therefore has the security label of 'vintage' shielding it from frowns and buyer rejections. Nevertheless, the last boom it had was pre-recession, flaunted by the likes of Celine in the tropical-hoop-earring-bright-colour spring show of 2005, and Stella's early collections for Chloe..
But before Milan, newcomer Lisanne stepped out at Burberry in a neon belt, which set in stone a new spirit. On the one hand, Bailey had to leave the khakis and wrinkled experimentations behind, having exploited the Miuccia effect for four seasons in a row, but this was taking two steps ahead.
It all resembles - bar the genius of the studded trenchcoat, which nevertheless will be a favourite among Eur-Asian clientele even before it hits the Harrods shopfloor - something that not even tacky-girls-who-grew-up-in-Behindthetimesland wear. Rather, some elements were even more passé - to the point where fashion's ever-speeding development perhaps went a bit too far ahead.
...Old grannies on the likes of, say, Finnish countryside wear pink snakeskin print today, because that is what the local hypermarkets sell (being the likely acquirers of old metropolitan stock à 1999).
This could pass as vintage in the same way that a cheekily worn Spice Girls T-shirt would; but are we ready yet?
The shift usually occurs between and along generations, driven by the young, but this is inevitably aimed at the same age segment of trendsetters and followers of whom the black Margielaism and Garethpughness originally won the hearts a few years back.
At the same time, Bailey is somewhat of a genius, and even though the new accessories philosophy and the easily recognisable target wearer speak of an internally powerful marketing machinery, this IS the only way to go for 'New'.
Avant garde is not black anymore, and it is no longer found in the pursuit of 'boxy', 'loose', 'anti-sex' or 'purposefully ugly'. It is avant because it lies ahead of the mentality of what is current. And right now, as optimism has only just reappeared on the doorstep of fashion, a renewed flirt with the artificial and pristine seems contemporary, no doubt.
But to step into stereotypes; will East London turn to thin turquoise belts and snakeskin prints and lime Spice Girls-era dresses? No. Will New-Money Russia and the emerging shopper class of Eastern Europe be the first to grab studded trenches off the shelves eleven tube stops to the West? Yes. Are the smaller handbags likely much more favoured by the Far East customer? Oui.
Yet this is where half the genius lies; as the balance of fashion - and the wealth distribution nurturing it - shifts in the world, so will the concept of fashion as an abstract itself.
In other words, the trend factor in any collection will no longer be as easily determinable - and certainly not solely defined by the terms of Western style dynamic.
Fashion is being drastically reshaped through a strategic shift across the industry regarding cross-regional and local distribution, and style moves quickly between geographical and social class spheres. What Bailey sends out now to confuse London may just as well become the starting point in retrospect for a new era where style itself is less dependent on old cyclical rules and a uniform consumer.
The challenge now is for all
...Or, continue our flirt with Wang and Jil Sander: Hey, Prada is still going boxy (review coming).
Yet going in this direction might just be the new 'out', sooner than we can refund our Marni coats.