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The New York look is all about Americana


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What to wear when it’s freezing and snow is on the ground? Ski pants might seem a sensible answer, but possibly not when worn stirrupped over 10cm lime-suede stilettos, no tights. What madness is this? New York Fashion Week in February, when the price of fashion could be pneumonia.

Many of the front row ­appeared to be suffering from seasonal affective disorder, though not in the usual sense. They might, by way of one example, have nonchalantly offset a woolly hat with bare legs. Or, if they were wearing a coat at all, they might allow it partially to slip off their shoulders. I am going to call this “shawling”, a new Balenciaga-inspired phen- om­enon that is even more annoying than the now old hat “shrobe-ing” once beloved of the fashion community. (That was when you wore a coat over your shoulders, arms out of sleeves. Keep up!)

The name on everyone’s lips was Raf Simons, the Belgian ­designer who was to present his first collection for Calvin Klein. The name on no one’s lips, but endlessly hinted at, was Donald Trump. The question: what does it mean to be American in 2017?

The only concrete answer the New York fashion crowd offered came in the form of clothes. Americana. Power suits. Red, white and blue. Big stuff (shoulders ­especially). Snug stuff (knitted everything).

1. Club Americana. How to make your mark on the most quintessentially American of brands? By out-Uncle-Samming the opposition, in the case of ­Simons’ debut at Calvin Klein. So there were the cowboy shirts and boots with which the west was won, not to mention the head-to-toe denim that also helped the brand to win over the world in the 1990s. And there was reinvented sportswear — such as the mesh tops with knitted varsity sleeves — and Wall Street-appropriate tailoring. It could have looked like theme-park fashion but, in the hands of a designer of Simons’ calibre — he was at Christian Dior ­before he moved to the US — it was rendered right here, right now. What’s more, there was something for everyone, which was, it seems, Simons’ point. “It is the coming ­together of different characters and different individuals,” he said. “Just like America itself.”

2. All hail the power suit. Turns out there’s a reason why you have watchedWorking Girl all those times. Because the power suit is back and you can pick up some pointers from late-era Tess McGill and any-era Katharine Parker. (Not, repeat not, when it comes to hair.)

What does a designer do when they are worried about a new president? Conjure up jackets with shoulder pads, apparently. Behold, the 21st-century power suit. As seen at Victoria Beckham, or VB, not to mention at Calvin Klein, Alexander Wang, Tibi and the cool kids, Monse, where those bodybuilder shoulders were zipped open. Think dark, plain wools and lots of greyish tweeds. Serious stuff.

3. Jumper dresses and dressy jumpers. The jumper dress used to be better as a concept than a reality, in that it was a dress that, if we were honest, never had enough heft to function as an actual jumper. Not any more. At Tibi it came in spangly forest green over matching leggings; at Victoria Beckham it transformed navy rib-knit into sexy, with its clingy cut and a front that was zip-up and — presumably, by extension — down. Yet it still looked warm. Bliss. Va-va-voom jumpers were everywhere, too — double bliss — even at upscale Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera.

4. The new surplus. Think surplus as in big, as in a lot of it, as in some of the baggiest trousers not to mention jackets and coats, you have ever seen. That was the case at VB, where there were wool trews that would conveniently sweep your floors as you go (not that I imagine Beckham factors in such matters) and a long coat with bulbous sleeves in which to keep extra snackage (ditto).

J Crew’s lilac satin trews were so capacious as to be practically a ballgown. (Ball-trousers? No, that sounds wrong.) The Row had more clothes to get lost in, a feeling that its pint-size designers, the Olsen twins, must be used to. Think surplus, too, as in layering, layering and more layering, in ways both entirely unnecessary yet rather cool looking, fashion’s favourite double act (see 9).

5. Scarlet women. Red was the colour of the season. Sure, blue and white came in second and third place, but rare was the designer who didn’t feature red in some way. Even The Row — usually a black, white and taupe ­affair — threw in a red card. Just the one mind: a thick-satin coat-and-trouser ensemble.

Beckham’s shade was lipstick, inspired by her make-up range for Estee Lauder, and used for sweater-and-skirt combos. Oscar de la Renta kept it strictly lippy, too — except when it came to the red eyeshadow, that is — but Carolina Herrera and Altuzarra both added a plum shade.

6. Any skirt as long as it’s chiffon. After a couple of years of hearting on pleated metallic skirts, it was inevitable that fashion would move on, but it’s not gone far. Pleated chiffon is the radical retool of the season, with some ruffled options, too, to keep things fresh.

The good news is that the fabric is multilayered and therefore not remotely see-through, plus it’s more flattering to wear than the stiffer metallics.

Use to soften the edges of power jackets or to glamour up a cosy knit as seen at Carolina Herrera. Yes, more good news: jumpers and skirts are still acceptable evening attire.

7. The biker jacket goes girlie. There’s nothing better than a one-stop way to refresh your look and the easiest next season will be with a biker jacket, newly feminised and so much more flattering. Carolina Herrera’s was tailored to kill; Calvin Klein’s was strewn with silver roses; Creatures of the Wind’s was apple leather. Vroom-vroom.

8. Sies-ing it up. Ask a frower which is their favourite new label and it’s a fair bet Sies Marjan will be the answer. Its third collection by Sander Lak, a Dries van Noten alumnus, encapsulated why. First, the colour! Why channel only a handful of hues, like most designers, when you can go full ice-cream parlour? Sies delivered pistachio, peach and berry shades that went from palest pink to deepest purple. Then there’s the designer’s genius at creating showstopping total looks out of wearable separates.

9. Little Edie layering. Little Edie, one of the eccentric mother and daughter duo in the 1975 documentary Grey Gardens, has long been a fashion muse. How apt that the very week it was announced theGrey Gardens house is for sale (a snip at just under $US20 million), her influence should be felt more than ever. Edie Beale, to use her real name, never met a skirt that she wouldn’t rather wear as top, or the other way round, and it was always a case of more is more.

She would have approved of the dresses over skirts at Sies Marjan and Proenza Schouler, and over trousers at Tibi and — most memorably — Monse (chartreuse velvet meets black leather). Then there was Zadig & Voltaire’s Edie-tastic red hoodie ‘n’ red trousers ‘n’ pink petticoat slip combo.

10. Boots and box bags. It looks like the statement boot will still be issuing directives next season, be it Victoria Beckham’s hot-red, heeled, knee-high style or Oscar de la Renta’s knockout, ­diamante-bloom-strewn number — more of a declaration of independence than a mere statement. As for the box bag, at VB it was an actual vanity case, with interior mirror, and big enough for her best-selling make-up range.

Roomier still was Calvin Klein’s take on the bag that is a box. This was more of a doctor’s affair, with space for a stethoscope or two. Fashion was taking a nation’s pulse, in the only way it knew how.Read more at:bridesmaid dresses online


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