Mimi Spencer: Accessorise with audacity

Life&style Accessorise with audacity -for that new bag or necklace, it's go big or go home.

Betsie Van Der Mere
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It is an irony of the first order that as catwalk models get ever smaller and scrawnier, the accessories they're obliged to showcase have only grown in size. Exploded, actually. These days, you can't move in Paris and Milan for huge great earrings, massive shoulder-bags and vast cocktail rings that could double as offensive weapons should the need arise. The upshot to all these gargantuan goings-on is a very peculiar combination indeed - with the constant concern that a handbag might swallow its mistress whole as she dives in to locate her mobile phone. I've seen young waiflets on the runways almost consumed by heavyweight headdresses, submerged in the hungry maw of their cashmere snoods, swamped by the enormous buckles of their colossal belts. Over the past few years, most designers agreed to send out shoes which looked like a couple of wedding cakes or telephone books, great blocks of satin and cork wedge, of triple-decker platform and multiple snakeskin straps, shoes that surely weighed substantially more than your average teenage model. Perched on these, they looked all the more insubstantial, like Lowry's stick people wearing clogs.

Perhaps that's the point. Mega-sized accessories will make any woman look comparatively slight. If we all wore tiny diamond studs and carried envelope bags tucked into the palm of our hands, then the truth would leak out; uncamouflaged by our enormous diversionary jewellery, there'd be nowhere to hide. It's no surprise, then, that this is the season of the Statement Neckpiece. No mere necklace, this is a construct. A superstructure. Something that may well require planning permission and give shade on a sunny day. At Lanvin (where the jewellery is utterly divine these days, the very stuff of dreams), you'll find great metal ropes set with abundant gems and centred on starburst lozenges to sit fatly at the décolleté. Moschino and Dolce & Gabbana opted for outsize golden coin discs, worn in a confused jumble as if stolen in a hurry from the tarot table of Gypsy Rose Lee. Even Giorgio Armani, so long the soul of discretion, let rip with neck architecture, owing a visual debt to the Miami's deco frontages. My favourite, though, came from Bottega Veneta, where the neckpieces looked at once organic and metallic - a crumple of stonework and torn tin foil, like something disgorged from a car crusher.

No, it's not discreet. Not minimal. It's loud and bold and gutsy and a prime example of the sheer audacity and decorative expression of fashion right now. Sure, your clothes may whisper good taste, but your accessories will yell across a crowded room. Just don't go wearing everything all at once. If your necklace is making a statement, best give your earrings a rest. Let your shoes go incognito. You'll be better off giving your glorious necklace some breathing space. All the better to show it off to your envious friends.