columnfinal.jpgGemma Cartwright writes...

It seems like only yesterday that I was jumping on a plane to Australia to escape looking forward to February's Fashion Weeks. Now here we are, another season on, waiting impatiently for the first Spring / Summer 2009 shows to hit the catwalk as the September shows rear their ugly heads.

Maybe I'm getting more and more cynical as the years go by, maybe it's the lack of real 'Summer' in the UK that's left me hating the idea of looking at more Summer clothing for weeks on end, but something is stopping me from getting too excited about what I might see in the coming weeks...

Fashion has always reflected the times. It's not been so obvious in recent, postmodern times, but we still see cultural and economic parallels in fashion. It makes sense that the way we live affects the way we dress.

So with the credit crunch hitting the headlines, will the clothes we see at the shows reflect that? I'm not expecting burlap sacks, but I do think we'll be treated to something quite safe this season. It would surprise me if anyone (except Cavalli and his Milan friends) show anything really ostentatious. Instead it will be about quality garments that you can wear a lot. The winter collections concentrated on statement coats that 'make' an outfit, and it wouldn't surprise me if Spring / Summer collections from the more established names (think DVF, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and so on) were about a capsule wardrobe of stunning basics; tailored trousers, shift dresses and so on.

But what of the younger designers? I think prints will make way for embellishment, arts and crafts influences and interesting fabrics. Floral was last Summer's big story, so I think it's safe to say that will be less obvious this time around...don't expect any more ditsy print (I think we're all bored to death of that).

Gucci hinted last season at a return to hippy chic, albeit in a slightly more luxurious way than the Sienna Miller 'boho' of a few years ago. I think that hippy vibe will continue this season. As we become increasingly aware of what we're spending our money on (both to save money and the planet) it makes sense that the general feeling in fashion will veer towards something softer and more earthy.

I think we'll see colours inspired by nature; ocean blues, earthy browns, khaki and grass green and blood red, and shapes will continue to be influenced or enhanced by volume, or layered to create interest. There'll be chunky Summer knits, tissue-thin sheer fabrics layered up in unexpected colours, organic cottons and linens and the return of trousers as a key piece.

All this is excluding London, of course, where everyone does whatever the hell they want!