TRENDs The tiered dress is one more of Spring/ Summer 2012's rediscoveries

T hey're the sartorial equivalent of the wedding cake. Multi-layered, colourful, often pretty and, like it or not, immune to time's boredom. Tiered dresses are dresses of nostalgia, taking one to a time of lace ribbons stitched along the many hems of many a frilly frock.

A modern, wearable version of the princess dresses and overskirts of the early Victorian era, tiered dresses have found favour due to their forgiving form and the softness they lend through a breaking down of a dress' length. Over the years, a leaning towards cleaner, minimal lines has given tiered dresses a retro halo, the kind reserved for chintz-upholstered furniture and court shoes.

Spring/ Summer 2012 will mark the vengeance of the tiered dress, going by the recent shows in Paris, New York, London and Milan.

Victor & Rolf's ready-to-wear collection — all doll-like, candy pink, bubblegummish — had models walking under giant tent-like skirts on which singer duo Brigitte sat perched. Predictably, taking into account the show's theme (and not so predictably if one goes by what one expects from Victor & Rolf), tiered dresses, both floor-length and knee-length, comprised a major part of the collection.

At Valentino, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli — in classic, wispy, romantic Valentino tradition — had white tiered dresses, while the jazz-inspired line that Marc Jacobs showcased in New York mixed flapper dresses, cellophane, gingham checks and tiered dresses.

Max Azria at Herve Leger, interspersing the body-con dresses that the label is identified with, ticked two boxes at once, with short tiered dresses also coming with laser-cut fringing.

Tory Burch in New York, making her runway debut, showed classic tiers in a 1920s-inspired collection. Michelle Obama favourite Jason Wu juxtaposed the current peplum and scoop-front trends with tiers and the princess dress, while DSquared2 had a more sporty take on the tier dress, pairing it with a cropped denim jacket. At Missoni, it was about prints and Bohemia, while Vivienne Westwood's was a gorgeous blood red one. At the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week in New Delhi recently, Saviojon's fluid dresses in silk were at once tapered and tiered.

And when Emilio Pucci sent out a tiered bridal gown in Milan, the analogy with that cake couldn't have been clearer.