(L) Anna Piaggi. (R) Isabella Blow (Photos: Rex Features)
Sometimes greed is good. I'm not talking avariciousness or materialism, but that hunger to see more, do more, be more, that pushes people forward. Whether that is the pursuit of truth, beauty, or the perfect shade of red. It's this desire that drives fashion's larger -than-life characters.
Diana Vreeland, Isabella Blow, Iris Apfel are all women who forged a unique path stylistically, and challenged the status quo. They were never in hock to individual designers. Their style is unapologetic: it might look garish to some or vulgar to others, but they would not care a jot. This spirit of liberation and proud individualism resonates this season. What could be more modern than that?
It's been a long time since Gucci could be called modern. But this season something surprising has happened: all of a sudden Gucci is the talk of the town thanks to the appointment of a new creative director. Not since Tom Ford's Nineties heyday has the brand been so discussed, coveted and copied.
In January, Alessandro Michele, himself a protégé of Ford but with a distinctly different aesthetic, was plucked from obscurity – he was head of accessories at the time. Less than a month later, he presented his first womenswear collection: a romantic paean to extreme eccentricity, a stark contrast to the house's long-running "sex sells" template, which had fallen distinctly out of fashion when it comes to the modern woman's wardrobe.
Despite the current fetish for physical fitness that's obsessing many in the West, there is now a greater acknowledgement that women ought to be praised for what's inside rather than outside the body beautiful. That's not to say that brands peddling high-octane glamour and super-sexualised shapes have been consigned to the bargain bin. They still sell, but they are not the brands setting the agenda. Mark that down to fashion's contrariness if you will.
Iris Apfel, the nonagenarian star of the recent documentary Iris – which I implore every one of you to watch – is a truly inspirational figure. Her eclectic style and exotic beauty have earned her the nickname "the rare bird of fashion". Although Apfel's passion for clothes and costume jewellery stretches back to her youth, it is only in the last decade that her role as style icon has gone mainstream. Quick-witted yet kind, Apfel's mind is still sharp. But it is for her fashion nous that she has won plaudits in recent years: the way she piles on costume jewellery for instance. She holds no truck with Coco Chanel's mantra to take one thing off before leaving the house.