Three trends that emerged from New York Fashion Week

Posted Tuesday, Sep. 17, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Now that fashion editors, stylists and retailers have seen hundreds, maybe thousands, of outfits for spring 2014 on the runways at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, what’s going to stay in their collective memory?

While some designers put forth true moments of fashion “direction” under the Lincoln Center tents in New York (Proenza Schouler’s long, pleated metallic skirts come to mind), others, such as Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera, offered modern twists on old-school sophistication.

Here are three big trends to look for next spring from the Fashion Week runways. Don’t start the shopping list just yet, though. While the New York previews ended Thursday night, there are still weeks to go in London, Milan and Paris.

Sporty and athletic

A sporty vibe during this round of spring previews was back — and more forgiving than short tops that require more than a visit or two to the gym.

Adam Glassman, O The Oprah Magazine’s creative director, thought J.Crew captured in an attainable, understandable and chic way the new mix of athletic styles and ladylike looks.

“The whole sportif thing seems very fresh. It comes around every few years but it looks good, and there’s a way for a lot of people to wear it.”

He’d suggest from here the beaded floral track pants with a knit top and the printed pointy-toe heels.

Vera Wang aimed for all A’s on her runway: artful, architectural and athletic.

She made the grade with silk gauze baseball jackets, chiffon gowns with mesh panels and often beaded, racer-style backs and a stretch-mesh hoodie paired with a net bustier and stretch jersey skirt.

Many of her looks were in black, which made the flashes of cobalt blue, geranium red and citron yellow more impactful. She used a painter’s brush-stroke print on camisole slips and chiffon gowns to make another visual statement, and delicate fabric petals decorated the back of slim-cut sheaths.

“My inspiration was sort of artsy, but also quite clean and a lot of collaging and athleticism … athletic details to the very central, romantic dresses. It’s very much based on sport and the body and movement,” she said.

Soft femininity — even in the boardroom

You don’t need to be buttoned-up to be the boss.

Many of the styles shown had women softening their edges — but keeping their confidence. At Michael Kors, the models resembled a secretary pool from the 1970s that had since moved into the corner office. Those bow blouses now have a luxury coat and handbag to go with them.

Gone are the minimalist, sharp-edged looks shown on so many runways for fall. There are looser, less restrictive outfits for spring that are more soft and feminine, but still grown up.

“You know it’s funny, last fall we had this very sharp, strong, urban collection, which really was for me this reaction to how fast life has gotten,” Kors said backstage before his show. “But sometimes I think life is a little too fast. And when we go out to dinner, put your phone down, put your BlackBerry down, have a conversation. Write a thank-you note, a real one. Walk down the street in the summer when the weather gets warm and wear something that catches the wind.”

Oscar de la Renta showed it’s possible to be feminine and still feel like you own the room. Gilles Mendel’s collection started with an ingenue who grows in confidence and becomes a woman.

“She’s strong, she appreciates quality, she loves clothes. I like a celebration of this woman,” Mendel said at his J. Mendel show.

And with a palette that includes mint and blush tones and softer blouson shapes, spring styles are for a woman who’s not afraid to wear a pink dress to the boardroom.

Ready to wear to the beach — or on safari

Summer wasn’t over just yet, but some designers were clearly focused on the beach at Fashion Week.

Peter Som said he was all about the “surfer girl,” while Carmen Marc Valvo took sportswear uptown, using athletic mesh and scuba stripes for fitted cocktail dresses.

“I’m a beach bum at heart,” Som said in an interview. “I cannot surf, though. I’m too accident prone.”

If Som has his way, his customers will be comfortable but sophisticated — and treated to luxury. His collection was bathed in ocean blues against white, with a touch of neoprene in bikini tops paired with skirts, along with some actual bathing suits.

Valvo, known for red carpet and eveningwear, also availed himself of neoprene on a runway dominated by black and white. Black dresses inspired by wetsuits fit snugly, with skin exposed through strategic slashes.

Desigual, the Spanish-based retailer that debuted on the New York catwalks, went with loose palazzo pants and breezy dresses in bold prints worthy of fun in the sand. Some looks were topped with floppy sun hats.

Meanwhile, Rachel Zoe’s comfortable-looking, glittery metallic Birkenstock-style sandal epitomized what the designer seemed to be going for in her clothes, too: outfits in which you can travel far and wide — either on safari, or just out on the streets.

The designer “takes the modern jet set girl on a safari,” according to her publicity material. “A traveling muse wearing her femininity with effortless confidence.”

In the clothes, that translated to a mix of trendy and classic items. Leather was prominent. One suit, in a luscious chocolate brown, had a belted safari-style jacket over short shorts. There was an appealing belted leather mini-dress. There were up-to-there miniskirts but also long, lacy dresses. There were slouchy satin pants, and comfy sweaters.

And there was a good deal of denim — distressed, in short shorts or baggy pants, and not distressed, as in a suit with a denim coat and high-waisted pants.

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