We've all heard how Feng Shui can supposedly improve our lives - and increase our wealth - when applied to the home. Thousands have rearranged their settees and mirrors, and chosen specific colours to maximise the "flow of energy" according to the ancient Chinese philosophy. But can it have a positive effect when applied to our clothes?
Fashion designer Julia Gerard (pictured above) thinks so. She is one of the first designers in the world to incorporate Feng Shui's ancient teachings into her clothes. She believes the cut, colour and fabric can mean the difference between success and failure in all aspects of our lives.
"I am told by my customers that by using Feng Shui I'm creating the Millennial goddess who lives in complete harmony with her inner and outer self," she says from her Beverly Hills design studio. Her work has caught the attention of Liz Taylor, Jane Seymour, Tina Turner and Chris Evert, to name a few. But does Feng Shui make a difference? "Absolutely," says Russian- born Julia, 44, who believes she has been using Feng Shui all her life - only finding a name for it 15 years ago after working in partnership with one of Issey Miyake's designers. "Their lives improve. I get calls all the time. People tell me they have got the jobs they wanted, husbands, dates. These clothes make people feel like winners and that's what it is all about."
Feng Shui is a science that concerns itself with spiritual and physical balance. "It lets us work efficiently, comfortably and successfully by following the patterns of nature. Feng means wind and Shui means water. Think of yourself as a boat, it is easier and more effective to sail with the current and wind rather than against it. This is one of the basic concepts of Feng Shui."
The key to understanding Feng Shui is the concept of Qi.
"Qi is a natural energy source that is constantly flowing all around us. When our homes or, in this case, our clothing are in sync with natural Qi patterns, we channel that natural energy into empowering us so we do better."
Qi is categorised into the five elements, also known by their colours. Earth is yellow; fire is red; water is black; wood is green and metal is white. Julia works with this in her designs and uses certain fabrics to use the elements to their best advantage.
"I use silks to generate the energy of air and water. Velvets as wood and water. Earth is available to me mostly through stones: gems and rocks. The metals I usually inject through buttons and jewellery."
She also uses the cut of the clothes to encourage good Qi.
"All my clothes are fitted but not tight. Creating the feeling of nakedness is my secret, but of course how naked you want to feel depends on the situation you are in. A lot of people have this thing about tightness around the waist, some just can't stand to be unbelted. I'd prefer it if the whole world wore hipster trousers so there's nothing around the waist. Food just doesn't digest properly if there's something tight around the middle. The waistline is not the real centre of the body - the reproductive area is - and when things are focused three to five inches below the belly button people don't just walk, they glide. The energy flow changes. People feel more centred, their posture improves.
"There absolutely has to be a free flow of energy under the armpits, between the thighs and around the reproductive areas. When there isn't the body rebels. It leads to ill health. The body hates to be constricted."
Colour is also important. Violet or purple is associated with the head; red with the heart; yellow, green and blue with the digestive organs. Based on their year of birth everyone also has a specific frequency.
"Astrology is a big part of Feng Shui," says Julia. "Signs with Earth predominant in their charts are going to prefer subdued colours. Fire signs are the opposite. Water signs gravitate …