Maybe the recent uptick on Wall Street has motivated designers of fashion and home furnishings to go for all-out glitz again. Whatever the reason, gold is cropping up on everything from Gucci snakeskin stilettos to 18karat cappuccino machines. Trend spotter Jane Buckingham, president of Youth Intelligence, says, "Coming out of pessimistic times and recession, people are ready for a bit of luxury again, and nothing says luxury like gold."
On the runway at Helmut Lang's show, models looked like surfers emerging from the sea in gold-lined scuba suits. "Gold is becoming everyone's favorite earth tone," says John Loring, design director of Tiffany. "The warmth always looks good on your skin." Beyond fashion, the precious stuff is turning up in decadent housewares like Gucci's gold-plated cat-food dish and on sweets like those at Manhattan chocolatier MarieBelle. Even the iPod has upgraded to gold.--By Melia Marden