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Culture

Subdued Styles in Europe this Winter

This year's winter fashion appears subdued. In the wake of the September 11 attacks, cuts and clothes are showing a mixture of power and tenderness in Europe.

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Black is as beautiful as it is timeless. The little black number makes a comeback...again!

Have the September 11 attacks influenced this autumn's European fashion? It may be pure coincidence, but fashion this winter is dominated by one colour – black.

Fashion magazine Vogue UK describes one of the key trends this winter as "distressed": Worn and torn denim, worked over leather and soft, muted colours. And colours on the catwalks in Paris for this winter's prêt-a-porter shows looked pretty subdued too, with creams, greys and blacks dominating the event.

Black is proving the colour in Germany's winter fashion too. With clear cuts, but still soft on the curves, black is showing off its true assets: elegant and glamourous but at the same time subdued, suiting this winter's post-September atmosphere.

Whether evening gown adorned with glittering sequins or patent leather, figure hugging, off-the-shoulder dress: black is the colour on the catwalk – and the colour in Germany's shops too.

Romeo Gigli, Valentino, Donna Karan – dress cuts have become more conservative this year, and lines are more classic. Even Vivienne Westwood's catwalk beauties have been showing off long legs in mini skirts, as opposed to her well-known, full skirts.

Despite clear cuts and dark, subdued colours, sensuality is all part of this winter's fashion. Accessories are a must; romantic details such as bows and sequins give those dark backgrounds a livelier touch. Strass and costume jewellery remind of better, more carefree times. Glitter and colourful, sparkling gems brighten up dull, monotonous fabrics.

There is an obvious call for the recognisable and the familiar in this winter's fashion – obvious too on the frontpage of current fashion magazines. Vogue UK's December edition shows Kate Moss in a long, red dress with a crown on her head – Vogue's answer to the current, post-attacks subdued mood: "As the days pass in a climate of uncertainty and speculation, what we increasingly treasure is the recognisable, the predictable, the familiar. And whether you are pro or anti the monarchy, what could embody those attributes more clearly than our royal family?" the magazine says.

Germany has no monarchy, but fashion magazines here too, appear to be reporting less on parties and glamour, and more on family affairs, relaxing weekends and cocooning.

In the wake of the September 11 attacks, cuts and clothes are showing a mixture of power and tenderness. But glimpses of spring and summer fashion in the coming year are proving more extravagant, more colourful and daring.