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On the clothes line

Lauren Matich | Wednesday, February 13, 2013

In a word, the clothes of Mercedes-Benz 2013 Fashion Week have been dramatic. A varied mix of established and young designers alike have come to showcase their wares, while models strut their Miss J stomps and wildly clad onlookers come to see and be seen. Like any other Fashion Week, the unusual in fashion are present alongside the more conventional, and all are critiqued and applauded. Of the styles represented, some elements have made multiple appearances the past few days, giving forward-looking fashionistas a glimpse into the newest trends in winter wear. 

Much of this season’s drama has come from the use of loosely hanging coats and full-fledged capes. An evening gown shown by Donna Karan played with different textures, angular and softened shapes, but these characteristics were all subtle compared to the floor-length sheer cape floating behind the harshly made-up model. Victoria Beckham is another designer employing cape-like draped fabric to intensify her looks. This season, Beckham has also spearheaded the trend to bear more skin. Although subtle in the achievement of this, she displayed plunging necklines and high-cut slits to combat her generally austere design.  

Silhouettes for fall fashion have become more streamlined and simplistic. The flirty spring and summer sundresses have evolved into muted shifts that follow the lines of the body to allow for layering. Models sporting dresses strut in conservatively, covering their knees, while long, tailored sleeves also continue to make a comeback. Carin Rodebjer, a Swedish designer whose look could be called “progressive elegance,” highlighted her muted collection with subtly-placed color and large open knits to keep it soft and comfortable.   

Once again, designers have worked to revolutionize the world of winter knits. Although sweaters will forever be a staple in cold-weather wardrobes, look out for new ways to layer and structure the everyday sweater. Thakoon Panichgul, a Thai-American designer showed a variety of knits to which he added polish using belts and creative shape-lending seams. Theysken’s Theory also played up the sophisticated yet comfortable look by pairing a flared quilted skirt with a similarly colored knit sweater. The monochromatic elements of the design emphasize the use of textures rather than colors to make a bold statement in the fall. 

The New York shows have been heavy on the sober colors one would expect for fall and winter. Many designers including BCBGMAXAZRIA have showcased the use of black and white, which is as chic as it is timeless and season-less, but one specific color is so dominant that one could call this year’s Fashion Week “Seven days of gray.” Every tone from light heather to deep charcoal can be found layered on models in sweaters, hats, skirts, evening gowns and legwarmers. Monochromatic outfits that are gray from hat to heel have been especially popular, but for the designers who aren’t so keen on grayscale, dark maroons have provided a classy contrast to the somber hue. 

Other colors that have surfaced have been equally as dramatic as the crimson-gray duo. Varying shades of deep purple have made appearances on the catwalk – eggplant, violet, merlot and even indigo have been spotted in both small doses and tall orders. Designer Carolina Herrera presented a deep jewel-toned gown in violet lace on one model, and on another magenta dyed fur shrug, indicating the versatility with which purple will be worn in the upcoming seasons. Green shades of silk, satin, knits and fur are also hanging around Malandrino’s collection from previous seasons. The designer highlighted an old-Hollywood inspired emerald satin evening gown with long sleeves and seams that subtly defined the body with a similarly-colored fur collar. Even though runways are missing the lighthearted neon shades of the spring and summer shows, do not think that fall and winter won’t be served with an extra helping of glamour and drama. 

Despite the trend of subdued colors and silhouettes, some designers are turning toward prints to make a bold statement, and both plaid and herringbone are sure to be big hits. Tommy Hilfiger, king of prep, developed yet another Ivy-League-inspired collection using layered herringbone, hound’s-tooth and plaid all in low-key colors. Many of his garments incorporate an understated yet striking crimson stripe around the cuffs, hem or waist, but keep to the sleek and simple shapes trending around Lincoln Center this week.

In the same way Hilfiger takes inspiration from the Ivy League tweed, other designers have divulged their inspiration for debuting collections. One such artist, Diane von Furstenberg, invited the audience to travel back in time with her models as she eschewed the somber, simple styles of her colleagues for the jumpsuits, maxi and wrap dresses, and cropped suits of the 1970s, all styled in magenta, bright scarlet, electric blue and graphic patterns. Betsey Johnson, iconic for her flamboyant bright colors and tutu-like skirts, did not disappoint Monday evening. Her collection mixed neon sportswear, mustard-yellow plaid, animal print, floral accessories and faux fur vests. Johnson’s models also played up the line’s juvenile silliness by half-skipping down the run way with thick-cropped wigs while chatting on cell phones. Designer Johnson’s collection exemplified the frivolity that those of designers such as Victoria Beckham lack. 

Paramount to the heart of many Notre Dame students is the show that took place early Tuesday morning – J. Crew. The brand showed a good mix of both shockingly bright and professionally subdued looks for men and women. Even more muted options stood out in comparison to the endless gray of countless other shows by using brown, navy, black, white, and fleshy pinks as neutrals. More shocking combinations have used bubblegum pink and black in business-wear. Bright Omaha orange, maroon and emerald have shown up in trendy oversized sweaters and coats with geometric and watered-down Aztec inspired prints. The heart of the show was a fuchsia blazer trimmed in scarlet red and heather gray shown with tapered black satin tuxedo pants. It is safe to say that the J. Crew style will continue to be in demand another year. 

Although so many designers focused on simple silhouettes and versatile colors, which translate to “wearability” for next winter, some styles land themselves in wacky fashion limbo, where even the best artists have been led astray. Since the recession fur has been very fashionably on the rise in controlled doses. This year was no exception, but the key has been tastefully small accessories, not knee-length vests as seen in in the BCBGMAXAZRIA collection, in which a model strutted donning a tri-color splotchy beast of a garment. Similar fur travesties were seen in the Alexander Wang and Joseph Altuzarra collections, which had giant fur gloves for the runway. Another zany style decision was the overemphasis of the loose silhouette in understated colors by Derek Lam. An old adage professes that many models could wear a brown bag and look great, but designer Lam tested the theory in his most recent collection when he included a simple dress with no shape or definition to lend to its wearer, ultimately dwarfing the already petite model. 

Thankfully, such fashion calamities are far less common than the demonstrations of artistry genius by the famed designers of Fashion Week 2013. Mercedes-Benz Fashion week concludes on Feb. 14, but the official website, www.mbfashionweek.com, has documented photos and videos from the event, lending aspiring fashion insiders a glimpse into the goings-on of the industry. Fashionistas, no longer will the common whines about nothing to wear be tolerated. Inspiration has arrived. 

Contact Lauren Matich at lmatich@nd.edu