Fashion Observed

Trend observations with a sociological eye from afar...

by Darryl S. Warren  

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Pace Yourself

To continue consumer interest, fashion needs a chance to catch its breath in the course of its evolution.  If the trends move too slow it helps to a degree but can also be a liability.  On one hand it gets more of the public onboard to participate. On the other hand it can also create complacency and inadvertently disengage shoppers who have sufficient pieces within the wardrobe, not seeing any reason to add to their holdings when they have enough to sustain their needs without being out of date.  Change styles too quickly and it will create interest, but it can also alienate buyers who just don’t have the funds to keep up. This is especially the case when there is economic uncertainty and requires a delicate balance where reflection on past patterns and buying trends in conjunction with past fashion trend cycles can become more important to consider.

With this in mind one should note that the resort collections are not pulling as many surprises or huge changes. While they may indicate a more conservative mindset to retain interest and relevance while keeping an eye on the bottom line to maximize longevity there are some subtle nuances of change that are being eased in more subtly.

As mentioned in earlier articles (such as “Clean Sweep of Austerity”) the expectation of a cleaner palette was anticipated, and designers, especially those who remembered the last 30 years, are aware that there were lessons to be learned from those who both succeeded and failed in their quest to weather economic trends. And with that, the practical implementation of minimalism of the 90s is more present in some of the 2012 Resort offerings.

Minimalism in palette usage amongst separates was evident in collections from Tibi, TSE, Jenni Kayne, Piazza Sempione, and Hugo Boss’ Black Label. Some sparseness was also at DKNY as well. This proved to be a safe execution to offer cuts that were relevant to the 70s/90s trend but still kept items simple enough to weather confidence as investments with more opportunity for dollar/wear.

The 90s was very present in accessories. Michael Kors, for example, features some purse belts that were very similar to the apron-style belt bags worn askew in the mid 90s to go along with those lean Helmut Lang lab-style coats we saw in that decade, tapped into the 90s sport-focused esthetic and added some 90s sex appeal with high slits on long lean gowns. And many belts at TSE were very slim and worn with a spare 70s-inspired wardobe just like back in the day. I almost wonder whether someone was playing Stereolab in the background of the presentation.

McQueen’s McQ line also had a sports edge with the contrast trim and a sporty edge, utilizing halter-like necklines that were utilized in the 90s. Those items lean to both the 70s and 60s whne considering prior incarnations, but the printwork incorporated into some pieces are more organic, something the 90s had but in a different colour palette. The collection had a similar scuba/sport feel that Michael Kors also showed recently. The lighter, whiter dresses were more minimalist and definitely had a nod to the 90s.

While the slim 90s silhouette was seen at Jenni Kayne, Tibi and Boss, Piazza Sempione showed a looser fit even though the colection was very minimalist in every other aspect. Flowing simplicity from both Piazza Sempione and DKNY channeled modern looks from the 70s minimalism of Halston, and the early 90s was a cleaner interpretation of modern 70s fashion. ADAM showed looks that oscillated between the clean minimalism and lean silhouette of the 90s and some pieces taking stronger undertones of 70s in the utilization of some print and colour combinations, of course without losing the cleaner interpretation overall.

Not everything though was literally referenced from those main decades. Just as in the FW2011 collections, there was still some mixing outside of the predictive consensus. Michael Kors and McQueen caught the Matthew Williamson fever and included a lot of hot 80s neon and 60s Prisoner-esque contrasting trim, and Michael Kors further added zebra to his sporty/sexy mix while throwing in a few boxy 60s-cum-80s style jackets and some box pleated skirts; some loose silhouettes made those garments appear more 20s inspired. Meanwhile, DKNY had some late 80s architecture mixed with 70s colour blocking in her collection. And Tibi had some 40s/60s pan collar detailing. McQueen’s McQ line had a catsuit and some a jacket with PVC sleeves that whispered 60s (and, when you think of the resurgence of PVC, the 90s). ADAM had a few sporty items that resembled combinations of the late 80s (for example the tank and slim Bermuda-length pant combo).

Interesting to note were from those collections that were not wholly inspired from the 90s in the least. Erdem mixed florals and check in a manner that screamed 80s LaCroix with some 60s cuts and a few flowing panels draped like angels wings that brought to mind that one fabulous evening gown everyone recalls in “Gossford Park” (which was actually a detail present in the late 90s) . Yves St. Laurent looked to channel 80s Gaultier with a heavy nautical theme, copious stripe usage and simple 40s puff sleeving and very short dresses that brought to mind pin-up girls from WWII calendars.

So while there is a sense of predictability in expectations for those who are keen on the winds of fashion not everyone is on the same page or even the same chapter. There are emerging patterns, to be sure and how they manifest in actually spring/summer collections will be the real story. The shows are not over and, until they are, the consensus is still early. But for those who felt the winds of change we knew that enough time has passed to revisit the 90s while adding new twists in keeping with the marathon of fashion evolution. And it appears that, as the consensus grows, we can afford to ease our stride and let consumers catch their breath.

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