Like it or loathe it, there's one trend this autumn that is getting increasingly hard to avoid. When I think of it, I think of tan. I think of false eyelashes, of white stilettos, and of round-the-clock maintenance. It is not fashionable, edgy or remotely high-brow, but somehow it is a look that is taking over our sartorial lives. It is not what Kate Moss wore out in Soho, or even what Katy Perry wore on The X Factor last week. It is, bizarrely, so much more than that. I am talking, of course, about Essex-chic, and about the real vajazzled women now in a high street or glossy magazine near you.
It started with the girls. Photogenic, groomed and clad in tight, bright outfits, Amy, Lauren and Lydia were fascinating. It did not take long for the fashion world to sit up and take notice either, after Amy Childs was featured in a spread in British Vogue entitled 'The Ultimate Essex Girl'. Since then, the girls have graced the pages of hipster bible, i-D, and weekly fashion magazine, Grazia, and it would seem that we all want a bite of the Essex cherry.
So much so that this week has seen the opening of an Essex-inspired clothing range at House of Fraser. Designed by Billie and Sam Faier, the high-street collection features figure-hugging, glamorous dresses in daring lengths and colours. Made with the Essex stylist, Jeff Mehmet and with prices spanning between £30 and £90, the collection, 'GraciEve', hopes to give us all a little bit of Essex-chic on a shoestring. It follows on from the success of Joey Essex's bespoke t-shirt range at Selfridges in July and is in advance of Lauren Goodger's own upcoming clothing range, 'Lauren's Way', which launches in London next month. Essex is everywhere, and the stars of the docudrama are keen to capitalise.
And well might they. These things never last long. While Tulisa might dub Essex as very 'current right now' on the X Factor and we might all rush to slip into bodycon, Essex already needs to watch its back. MTV are casting for a new structured reality show, The Only Way is Dalston, and it is not long before Liverpool exports, Desperate Scousewives and Mersey Shore, are on our television screens and in our wardrobes.
But for now, Essex reigns supreme. Chigwell darling, Amy Childs, has a show entitled 'All About Amy' on Channel 5 next month, and clothes from House of Fraser look as though they will sell well. Precarious as the stars' fame might be, this seems to be how they like it, and we cannot accuse Joey and Co of failing to ride the zeitgeist. So embrace it. Wear that daring sparkly minidress with the proud knowledge that it is totes fashion babe; you'll never have a better opportunity. Reem, we might say...