Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Orient Yourself for Party-Wear

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Orient Yourself for Party-Wear

Article excerpt

ONLY four years stand between them but, in wardrobe terms, it may as well be a millennium.

While Madonna, 47, greets the night in knee boots, fishnets and a leotard, Cherie Blair, 51, prefers to make her evening appearances in wifely suits whose skirts rarely rise above the ankle. And which of these ladies gets the most stick for her appearance? Why, Cherie, of course.

Just like Mrs Ritchie, I do think Mrs Blair loves clothes - and in her own way, she is just as experimental as Madonna. Look at the ensemble she chose to meet Jackie Chan last week: a pale blue satin suit sprigged with delicate lotus flowers. What fun she must have had doing her hair and makeup, the chignon and ruby red lips a subtle homage to the Orient.

Whether or not you think she looked like a prawn or a cracker, the Oriental look is one that some of us may well be moved to try over the festive period, albeit in a more sexed-up style than Cherie.

Chinoiserie lends itself well to the drama of the Christmas party season, with its bold colours, striking embroidery and rich, opulent fabrics.

While Oriental might have taken a back seat on the catwalk for autumn (though John Galliano, a habitual fan, did do a beautiful dress in his collection for Dior), it is never far from the high street at this time of year. Marks and Spencer has a black cheongsam-style satin dress in its Limited Collection ([pounds sterling]89), while Stella McCartney's coll e c t ion for H&M includes a beaded black satin jacket with a mandarin collar ([pounds sterling]50).

Both these items are subtly Oriental: for a more literal take, there is always Shanghai Tang (6 Sloane Street, SW1), whose floral embroidered mini-dress is sure to set more pulses racing than just your own. Websites such as www.chinesedresses.co.uk also have cheaper versions from [pounds sterling]30. …

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