Show some Eastern promise

Published: Sunday 3rd May 2015 by The News Editor

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Creative types often cite trips to far-flung destinations as inspiration for their work, and nowhere was this more obvious than the spring/summer catwalks, where Western designers imbued their collections with a wealth of Eastern influences.

The escapism effect was felt most strongly at Maison Martin Margiela and Marni, where the finest fabrics were cut in cheongsam or kimono shapes, while at Carven and Lanvin, antique pottery prints were splashed on sporty separates.

But when it comes to the high street interpretation, simply throwing on a kimono won’t cut it this season – this trend is all about taking traditional attire and bringing it bang up to date.

From cool judo jackets to pretty prints, all aboard the Orient Express…

Gently does it

Move over baseball jacket, the latest sports kit to be appropriated by the fashion world is ‘judo gi’, as worn by practitioners of the Japanese martial art judo, which means ‘gentle way’.

Traditionally white and fastened with a thick obi belt, the judo jacket has been reimagined in a host of colours and cuts on the high street.

Providing a cool spring alternative to your usual button-down blazer, they’re thankfully not as bulky as their sporting counterparts, and the cinched in waist works well with high-waisted trousers and skirts.

Pair with pleat front cropped trousers or palazzo pants for a relaxed Kyoto-meets-Capri vibe.

:: Autograph Jacket, £75; M&S Collection Trousers, £35; Necklace, £18 (available May;

:: Marika Jacket, £49 (

:: 3.1 Philip Lim White Belted Silk Top, £335 (


The real shortcut (or should that be bullet train?) to Asian fusion fashion is the obi belt.

These sash belts have a rich history in Japan, where they were originally made from great lengths of heavy brocade and used to fasten kimonos.

For SS15, the obi is detached from its historical heritage and is fair game knotted over pretty much any dress, as long as it sits snugly on the waist (to avoid any unsightly fabric folding).

Play up the oriental connection by adding an obi to a sleeveless maxi dress, or belt a contrasting colour over a pale jacket and black trousers for evening.

:: Dress, £30; Belt, £14; Sandals, £35; Earrings, £8.50 (available May;

:: Leather Obi Belt, £20 (

Floriental finish

The oriental trend is also responsible for some of the season’s most beautiful prints, from stylised scenes featuring swooping herons to dense florals inspired by the famous cherry blossoms that bloom across Japan every spring.

Heading somewhere hot on holiday? Go glam in a bright silk kimono with matching trousers or shorts – just the thing for strolling along the beach on balmy nights – and the kimono will come in handy as a cover-up back home too.

Blossom prints can be overbearing, so downplay the fussiness with simple, modern shapes like a spaghetti strap dress or jumpsuit, and add accessories that tone with the print’s background colour.

:: Limited Edition Orange Satin Oriental Print Longline Kimono, £55; Orange Oriental Floral Print Palazzo Pants, £40; Top, £30; Necklace, £12; Shoes, £35 (

:: Studio Collection Patterned Silk Jacket, currently reduced to £69.99 from £99.99 (

:: Cherry Blossom Jumpsuit, £79 (

Chinese takeaway

Originating in Twenties Shanghai, the cheongsam is one of those classic occasion dresses that never really goes out of style, so invest in one this season and you know if won’t be just a flash in the fashion pan.

Characterised by a very tight-fitting cut, short cap sleeves and a Mandarin collar, the cheongsam is usually knee length (with a significant split, otherwise walking would be nigh on impossible) and made of silk, but modern versions tend to have some stretch (phew).

Not keen on the idea of such a form-fitting frock? Look out for a Fifties-style full-skirted dress with cheongsam detailing on top – much more forgiving in the hip area.

:: Sakura Dress, £99 (

:: Dainty Dress, £119 (

Get the look

At a Broadway opening night recently, Helen Mirren seemed to be channelling her most famous role, in a sherbet yellow coat that we reckon the Queen herself would approve of. Her Majesty probably doesn’t shop at Zara though…

:: Bell Sleeve Coat, £89.99 (

Buy it now

One’s a 140-year-old British institution, the other’s a thoroughly modern Asian-inspired fast-fashion retailer, now Liberty and Superdry have come together for a timely collaboration. Out in May, a pair of watches combine the sporty Superdry aesthetic with chintzy Liberty floral prints, in pretty pink and purple.

:: Superdry Urban Featuring Liberty Art Fabrics Watches, £39.99 (available May 11;

Copyright Press Association 2015

Published: Sunday 3rd May 2015 by The News Editor

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