Sometimes one dress captures the imagination of the entire fashion industry. For an item of clothing, there is no higher honour than appearing on the cover of a high end glossy magazine. A couple of months ago, it was Miu Miu's tangerine 1960's shift dress with its cutesy flower applique - it was very Mad Men, it was autumnal bright, it was quirkily edgy - and it simultaneously appeared on three of the top glossies' covers.
And now, for the Christmas season (and yes, we do mean Christmas - for monthly magazines, the December issues are hitting the newsagents shelves right now) there is a new iconic dress - Balmain's gold deep V minidress, which has so far appeared on SIX covers.
So what is it about this dress? Of course, it's gold, so perfect for the twinkly Christmas party vibe (be your own yuletide decoration etc etc), but with that luxurious lame fabric it hits both kitschy-80s sexy-retro, while still seeming grown-up and sophisticated.
"Look 22" was first seen modeled by 25-year-old Anja Rubik in Balmain's A/W'10 show, yet it seems to work on women of all ages; from the youngest models - Abby Lee Kershaw (23) and Natalia Vodianova (28) - to the supers; Cindy Crawford (44) and Claudia Schiffer (40) and even non-model models - 10 cover star Anna dello Russo (48). This is largely down to the cut of the dress - that ruffly but not too girly/flouncey sense of femininity that is both flattering (instant hourglass), and sexy; and that plunging neckline can either be flat-chested flapper-girl demure (Kershaw) or flash a womanly Sophia-Loren-style cleavage (Crawford). It's also a fashion editor's dream plaything - styling wise, it can be accentuated with blend-in jewellery - a gold belt or a tough-looking chain necklace, or given a ladylike touch with a prim pearl choker, or simply left to make its own high impact statement.
The standout feature of the dress is undeniably that extraordinary embellished, crumpled foil fabric, which makes this piece so distinctive, different. Add those sharp shoulders, which scream, unmistakeably, of Balmain - one of the coolest the heritage labels of the moment, and we have the Dress Of The Moment.
So now the only question is - which of the seven women wears it best?