CHIMING with the change of direction, which saw so many collections veering towards a 1970s look, suede overtook leather as the designer hide of choice for spring. At Chloe and Chanel, wide-collared jackets and shirts were worn over matching separates in pastel shades, while at Ralph Lauren, khaki green underlined a safari story.
But it wasn’t an entirely retro revival. At Burberry, the gabardine trench was reimagined in turquoise suede, while at Jason Wu, the napped fabric was crafted into thoroughly modern midi skirts and tees.
And while leather is charged with an undeniably sexy undercurrent, the frosted feel of suede lends itself so well to laid-back summer dressing.
With high street pieces so softly seductive, you’ll be easily persuaded…
Suede was a key component of the haute hippy look that pervaded so many of the SS15 collections.
A fringed jacket is a must, to throw over a floaty mini or maxi dress on summer evenings. Mix your textures – think a lace dress and suede jacket, topped off with a silk scarf – but keep colours tonal to avoid visual overload.
Channel your inner Pocahontas in a suede dress – the more fringing the better – paired with ankle boots and a denim jacket or kimono.
For a total Summer of Love makeover, complete the look with a faux flower headband and round-rimmed sunnies.
Miss Selfridge suede jacket, £120; white lace Bardot dress, £45, www.missselfridge.com; Looxent leather jacket, £255, www.peterhahn.co.uk; Fahrenheit dress (pictured), £119, www.urbancode.co.uk; tassel plait suede shift dress (pictured), £150, www.topshop.com
For a more up-to-date take on the trend, look to the Jason Wu catwalk, where suede co-ordinates had a decidedly Nineties feel, complete with a daring thigh split up a knee-length skirt.
The high street has followed suit with a host of chic two-piece ensembles in muted hues. Invest in both halves of the set to get more bang for your buck – a pale suede tee will become a workwear staple and can be dressed down with denim at the weekend too, while a matte skirt can be elevated with statement jewellery for evening.
If it’s an all-in-one you’re after, try one of this season’s kimono-inspired wrap dresses, or update your wintry woollen culottes with a pair in neutral suede.
Todd Lynn Edition suede front zip skirt, currently reduced from £165 to £49.50; jacket, £250; top, £18; boots, £50, www.debenhams.com; suede crop top, £70; tailored D-Ring culottes, £40; round sunglasses, £10; sandals, £38 (all worn by model pictured above right) www.oasis-stores.com; wraparound suede dress (pictured), £199.99, hm.com; suede culottes, £110, warehouse.co.uk
TOUCH THE RAINBOW
While most of the international designers played on the pale chalky texture of suede, London’s foremost trendsetter, Christopher Bailey, amped up the volume, with jackets in violet, aqua and hunter green hues. Dead ringers have cropped up on the high street, in short, jean and biker jacket shapes.
Wear one as you would a denim jacket, with the added bonus that you can avoid the double denim conundrum. Keep your coloured suede skirts or dresses super-short too, as seen on the Saint Laurent catwalk, and wear with 10-denier tights and disco-ready platform sandals.
Red herring suede jacket, £99, www.debenhams.com; Twiggy for M&S Collection suede Waterfall biker jacket, £199 www.marksandspencer.com; suede skirt, £99, hm.com
GET CARRIED AWAY
Leather may rule when it comes to arm candy, but don’t overlook the soft and supple, yet hard-wearing, alternative – a suede bag is a summer essential.
Make like a Victoria’s Secret model at Coachella and wear a lacy summer dress with a fun, fringed cross-body, or backpack and matching boots.
A slouchy carry-all is a subtler option for city dwellers. Pick a stony hue that you can pair with your favourite leather jacket and indigo denim, and that will double up as a beach bag on holiday.
Suede bag, £55, www.dorothyperkins.com; fringed backpack (pictured), £49, www.accessorize.com; ebony suede shoulder bag, currently reduced from £120 to £85, www.phase-eight.com; suede backpack (pictured), £44.99, mango.com
GET THE LOOK
Looking for a lightweight coat to see you through to the end of spring? Then make like reality-TV-star-turned-fashion-icon Olivia Palermo in a lace trench. Palermo’s is Burberry, naturally, but for a high street alternative, try this pretty ivory belted lace trench coat from Kelly Brook’s collection for SimplyBe (pictured), £90, www.simplybe.co.uk
BUY IT NOW
Is this the most hyped skirt of all time? The most perfect distillation of the 1970s and suede trends, it’s already been seen on Alexa Chung and Palermo, and after an initial sell-out release to those on a waiting list, buyers at M&S have had to reorder the Autograph suede skirt (pictured), £199, multiple times to meet anticipated demand. Elbows at the ready.
If you want to try the suede trend but the real thing is out of your price range, here’s a nifty tip: faux suede in bright colours is that bit more convincing. Case in point? The mini duffle bag from JD Williams, an adorable dinky pouch that comes in cobalt or hot pink for only £15. n