While we are trained to expect fashion to change with dramatic gesture, sometimes it takes quieter, incremental shifts. The spring fashion season, which starts rolling out into stores this month, adopts this softer philosophy, and designers hope that their customers will shop the morphing trends with both nostalgia and a transforming perspective.
Fringe has dominated runways and stores for the last several seasons, hitting every category from head to toe. And while it is still present and even intensified in some cases — think uniform silk yarns forming the hem on maxi dresses at Celine, space-dyed strands made into bell sleeves at Balmain and short, dense diagonal rows of fluffy pile on sleeveless tops at Altuzarra — the fringe trend itself seems to be augmenting for a lot of designers into a fascination with feathers.
Fringe tends to take on a western, bohemian and casual aesthetic, feathers can feel more glamorous and sophisticated. Proenza Schouler took a drop-waist midi dress and wrapped white ostrich feathers around the bodice and skirt, producing the feel of a 1920s flapper. The look at Saint Laurent was more structured as creative director Anthony Vaccarello stacked cuffs of ostrich feathers up the shaft of thigh-high boots and played on the asymmetric trend with cascades of feathers down one side of the body only. The bird is elevated, glorified, even mystified by the creative human mind.
Millennial pink, the muted version of its more saccharine cotton candy cousin, successfully gained the following of cool girls and hipsters everywhere who otherwise did not identify with the overt femininity of the more traditional shades. This spring brings another explicitly feminine color, purple, and attempts to work the same magic. Here comes lavender. Dubbed the “break out” color of the season, the cool-toned pastel was applied liberally, appearing in almost every category and fabrication. Tom Ford’s shiny violet bomber hit the mood just right, styling it atop lavender drawstring joggers with the ankles shoved up to reveal a cerise pink stiletto tipped in white. Victoria Beckham took a more tailored approach and paired a loose, no-button jacket with slim trousers and a wide lapel shirt in a slightly more intense shade. Even The Row, which almost never betrays a neutral color palette, sent elbow-sleeved, floor-skimming maxi dresses and crinkled leather trench coats in gray-toned mauve down the runway to intersperse with an otherwise austere, beautiful and mostly black and white collection.
Spring fashion almost always involves a sheer element, with fabrics like tulle, linen, organza and silk voile used to create diaphanous, romantic looks. But this spring, transparency went on a road less traveled, as designers turned to the medium of plastic to create an oddly sentimental and yet alien aesthetic. Chanel topped signature tweed suiting in a clear plastic anorak, worn with clear plastic thigh-high boots, replete with the signature toe cap. Valentino tailored clear vinyl around moto jackets, embellishing the lapel and trim with black sequins. Even the otherwise stately, serious and ubiquitous cool girl Phoebe Philo, created bags for Celine that resembled large, clear grocery bags, with messages written on them in sans serif font. Though presented on tall, lithe models in luxurious surroundings, the clear, stiff and squeaky vinyl looks never seemed to feel natural, but maybe that was the point.
I suppose in a couple of months, we will see if life in designer plastic is indeed fantastic.