Celine has certainly had something going on for the past few seasons. The label's own special brand of 'New Minimalism' (courtesy of Pheobe Philo) has pared down and streamlined our idea of what's fashionable. Muted colours are in, excess is out. It's all a bit American, with its emphasis on timeless simplicity, but it's us Brits who have really taken minimalism to heart. You know something's up when British Vogue has Kate Winslet on the cover and American Vogue has Lady Gaga, eyebrows bleached to high hell, in a candyfloss-pink bobbed wig and loosely knotted Haider Ackermann. Yes, Lady Gaga isn't so much edgy as existing in her own world of fashion crazy, but it's unnerving to see American fashion embrace her so while our magazines are chasing down the perfect copy of Kate Mddleton's trench coat.
It was only in October last year that Luella Bartley wrote, in her Guide to English Style, "Oh, the French have their chic ladies and their Left Bank intellectualism, the American grl grooms like no other breed, the Japanese take kitsch to a whole new level and the Italians have trash down to a fine art. But the English girl is a multi-faceted dresser with an unrivalled eye of irony and a much more interesting take on everything. Nothing is taboo, nihilism is implanted, mistakes are plentiful and the rules are ... there are no rules." Sadly, it seems the English girl has lost her way in the past year, leaving Helen Bonham-Carter looking lonely in her mismatched shoes. The very point of being British is to have a dash of eccentricity, so where did all our sartorial humour go?
To the streets, apparently. Stylist Katie Phillips has found the real problem with Celine's sky-rocketing popularity: "it's absolutely beautiful, no-one can deny that. But it's so minimal that people can't interpret it in their own way, you get everyone styling themselves almost identically. I think we're seeing the start of a real uprising against that, which is fantastic for British street style." Finally, a wave of 'bad taste' is rebelling against 'the Celine Effect.' With overtly fake fur and crocodile skin, wackily dyed hair and clashing prints as their signatures, 'Binge Dressers' (BDs) are reviving the art of tackiness. Anything that would horrify a New Minimalism convert is good, and piled on in excess is better. There's something so very enjoyable about indulging in a bit of blatant bad taste, especially when everyone around you is wearing navy button-down shirts and discreet jewellery.
What started as an impulsive visit to the Bleach hair salon on Oxford Street for a quick dip-dye streak has become a lifestyle - throwing on a stack of tasteful gold bangles isn't going to cut it with the Binge Dressers, but a pile of gold-plated bling from New Look might. Their frisson with all things fake has reached fever pitch at Brick Lane - always a good place to measure which fashion movements are on the rise - with vintage trader Chris Hanson finding that " people want the really fake-looking stuff from the eighties now. We had some shiny Dalmation-print coats that sold out in one weekend. Last year everyone wanted beautiful, real fur from us because they couldn't justify the cruelty of buying it new. But now they're coming back because fake fur on the high street is too realistic, it isn't tacky enough to be cool."
There are no real leaders in this fashion anarchy, but Meadham Kirchoff can comfortably take some of the credit for inspiring a bit of eccentric excess. The spring/summer show flatly ignored all the rules of good taste and instead mixed lace, glitter, sequins and neon with multi-coloured hair for a look that was both childlike and a bit dark. But the fabulously camp Rocky Horrow Show is just as likely to be the Binge Dresser's touchstone. "I wouldn't say I take inspiration from anyone in particular," says self-confessed BD Jackie Martins, "but Vivienne Westwood and Daphne Guinness have amazing style that not everyone gets." Jessie J, with her loud prints and diamante lips, is the 'light' version of BD - definitely verging into so-called bad taste, but leaning towards hip-hop rather than Pat from EastEnders.
This unapologetic penchant for all things shiny and fake might be catching - there are already clues that 'tacky' might be the new buzzword in high-end fashion. Biker jackets in lime green crocodile skin have already arrived at Burberry, and the scaly textile will be reappearing in rainbow shades come autumn, courtesy of Prada, Dries van Norten and Bottega Veneta. And thank god, because we can't leave Helen Bonham-Carter to fly the flag for British eccentricity alone any longer.