Archive for February, 2013

Long

The Long of It.

Are the long hemlines that are sneaking into so many collections a viable option for winter 2013? The trend started with Valentino in haute couture, where the choice of skirt length is ultimately left to the client. But it is a different story with the many Italian houses that are successful ready-to-wear brands. They have to read the messages coming through at retail.

The answer seems to be: a woman’s right to choose. No one has yet gone full out for ankle-length outfits. But there are long hemline options scattered throughout.

Perhaps the most intelligent use of length was from Gabriele Colangelo, one of Milan’s rising stars and a designer who understands that modern fashion is as much about texture and fabric treatment as about cut and hemline lengths. That is why a long white coat over a short dress was a leitmotif of the collection: It had a semitransparent insert at the hips of the coat, opening a slit window on the body — in fact, a technological treatment similar to burning away. Other techniques included overlays of shiny materials against matte surfaces and yarns disintegrating into fringing.

Textures

Mr. Colangelo was inspired by digital distortions from the artist-photographer Laurent Segretier. Translated to cloth, there was a real sense of modernity and hyper-reality, especially when the neutral colors morphed into wine red. The play on textures was set against graphic lines, which included rounded shoulders and linear shapes for coats or pants. Such skills make discussions about hemlines redundant.

At the Etro show on Friday, the story was already dramatic, with a bold digital backdrop of what looked like a skeleton — with a similar pattern on a dress, the bones printed from neck to ankle, with gaps at either side for twin stretches of flesh.

The look was part of Veronica Etro’s concept of a global universe and world travelers. That brought a lot of sensible clothes: narrow, tailored pieces with a 1980s vibe. But inevitably those coats and dresses were interspersed with the house’s famous patterns, from paisley to floral prints.

Surfing the world for cultural inspiration has always been part of the Etro spirit. This show was fine, well planned but with no particular distinguishing features except the long dresses. They may not be every woman’s choice, but they are on offer.

Moschino

Moschino did its best not to turn Scotland the Brave into Scotland the Bore. It is difficult when the Highlands have been mined so often for inspiration to get anything new out of plaid. But with taut jackets, perky pleated skirts and jaunty military helmets, the collection seemed upbeat and fun. Adding an embroidery of a heart to the kilts, just where a sporran might have swung, gave a touch of naughtiness.

There were some intriguing moments when it looked as though the short hemlines might be challenged by long, slim dresses, as the neck-to-toe, covered-up look is lurking around as a fashion trend. At one moment, short and long outfits, inevitably in plaid, appeared side by side on the runway. But the story was really in tailoring: sleek, concise and saleable.

A show that has every outfit with the same footwear — a narrow-heel court shoe — seems in need of some current fashion education. But if Sportmax ignored the hot accessory of the moment, it had latched on to an important story of the season: texture.

From the opening impression of a fur-fronted coat, its surface brushed into squares, there were all manner of surface effects — from fluffed-up sweaters, through a tactile ginger shearling jacket zipped up the back, to a dress that seemed to be covered with blue and white filaments.

Sportmax also made the most of another trend of the season: a carwash-panel skirt. Tailored pleats, either left open or as the back panel in semi-sheer chiffon, are one of those looks that appear to be an instant hit.

Celebrity stylists

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OSCARS: Red Carpet Is Fashion’s Runway.

If all roads once led to Rome, then most fashion runways now merge into the Red Carpet. For the past decade or so, celebrity stylists have cherry-picked the fashion runways for the very best frocks for their A-list clients on awards nights. In essence, you would first see a gown on Kate Moss and then on Cate Blanchett.
But more recently, the trend is for actresses to show up to the Oscars in ready-to-wear or one-of-a-kind couture gowns that haven’t yet debuted at fashion week or the European shows. In many instances, the Red Carpet is the new runway.
Case in point: The one-shoulder black-and-white column gown that Claire Danes wore to the SAG Awards came from Givenchy’s pre-fall 2013 collection.
“In an effort to trump other celebs, it’s become about wearing something that hReasn’t even been seen on the runway yet”, says Cameron Silver, a fashion expert known for his serrated wit and the author of the new style encyclopedia, Decades: A Century Of Fashion.
“The system is so out of control”. By system, Silver means the big, greasy machine in which actresses and designers make exclusivity deals.
Though no star or stylist will speak on the record about such dalliances, it’s been suggested that anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 can come sewn into the hem of a red-carpet gown worn by a nominated actress. On a less cynical note, however, stylists can’t be blamed for calling first dibs on spectacular gowns that they preview.
“The advantage to using dresses that haven’t been shown yet is that no one else has seen them”, says the powerful Hollywood stylist Elizabeth Stewart, whose clients include fashion risk-takers Blanchett and Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain. “There’s a better chance of a good dress not having been snapped up”.

First business

Wearing the right dress can be the first business flirtation between an actress and designer, too. A bit like a wink across the room. In 2011, 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld was nominated for an Oscar for True Grit. Seizing a style moment, she wore a striking fuchsia-, tangerine-, and black-striped Prada dress with a flounced hem from the spring collection to the SAG Awards that year. The chic choice paid off. Within two months, Steinfeld became the new face of Miu Miu, Prada’s edgier little-sister label. Steinfeld was just spotted front row at the Chanel couture show in Paris, so stay tuned.

Jewelers, of course, must deliver never-before-seen sparklers too. Many stylists plunder the archives of a house like Cartier or Van Cleef & Arpels for statement pieces with heritage and vintage caché. “Finding the new unseen look and style in a piece of jewelry is also in top demand”, says Beverly Hills jeweler Martin Katz, who outfitted Jodie Foster, Sally Field, and Helen Hunt with lush diamond bracelets and bold earrings at this year’s Globes. “When I come up with unusual rings or bracelets that have not been seen on the red carpet before, stylists grab them immediately”.

Actress

If anyone can be held semi-responsible for all this pushing and shoving, it’s Nicole Kidman. Back at the Academy Awards in 1997, she hit the red carpet in an exotic chartreuse haute couture gown by John Galliano for Dior. (A facsimile of the dress had been spotted just a month earlier at the Paris show and the designer worked to customize it for Kidman.) No doubt, every other actress on the carpet that night later learned to pronounce “haute couture” with just the right French flourish.

And just as wearing never-before-seen runway dresses has become de rigueur, über stylist-turned-designer Rachel Zoe has upended the buffet once again. She put longtime client Anne Hathaway in a snow-white Chanel couture gown from 2009 at this year’s Globes. What? A 3-year-old dress? “Just because a dress was seen on the runway a couple of years ago but didn’t have its moment doesn’t mean that it’s out of fashion”, says Silver. In fact, if anything, it shows that a resourceful stylist can gild a forgotten gown like anyone else would lacquer an old credenza. Zoe also put Hathaway in a black spring 2013 Giambattista Valli couture gown for the SAG Awards this year.

Catherine Kallon, who founded the popular website Red Carpet Fashion Awards in 2007, has been visually comparing runway looks and their red-carpet translations for over five years. She sniffs at any criticism about petite Hollywood actresses being swallowed by dresses designed for statuesque woman with tiny ribcages. “For the most part, I think runway dresses translate better on the red carpet”, she says. “Just look at Lucy Liu in her Carolina Herrera gown at the Golden Globes for further proof. She owned the floral ball gown”.

Actually, she borrowed that gown and it was pre-fall 2013.

Sensational

All eyes will certainly be on Best Actress nominee Jennifer Lawrence this Sunday at the 85th annual Academy Awards.

The talented star always dazzles in demure designs (usually by Dior), which are perfectly lovely. But for this incredible occasion, we’d love to see Lawrence in something a bit more sophisticated and sensational.

After careful critique of the New York Fashion Week runways, we selected this embellished design by Reem Acra for her big moment.Oscars fashion: Jessica Chastain, we found your dress!
The stunning design features a curve-hugging silhouette with a sweeping skirt made of layers of lovely tulle and netting for a dramatic effect.The sparkling beadwork adds brilliant interest to the gown, while the mesh fabrication adds an alluring hint of sexiness.

We’d love to see Lawrence with her hair soft and volumized with loose curls and swept back in a low chignon. A touch of classic red lipstick would complete this mesmerizing look.

What would you like to see Jennifer Lawrence wear to the Oscars?