7 Fashion Trends for Fall 2009
Fashion Week Recap: New York, Paris, Milan, and London
While the collapse of Wall Street has lead to the examination of the principles and rules (or lack thereof) of the banking system, the worldwide economic downturn has forced the fashion industry to make major adjustments. Many retailers have been forced to declare chapter 11 and to liquidate their merchandise. Buyers have cut back on their orders and taken a tighter approach to their purchasing practices. Mainstreeters have cut back on their shopping. It is all a big continuous cycle of depressing news.
But the show must go on and continue it did, with runway shows across the globe. There were many noticeable differences in these Fashion Weeks from ones of the past. Almost all of the differences, and the trends seen on the runways, were direct reactions to the economy. Overall, designers responded by offering “investment dressing”- classic pieces that will last a lifetime or conversely by displaying statement wares characterized by their uniqueness, escapism and inventiveness.
TREND: Classic Pieces are back: put your money in clothes that will last
Lanvin (designed by Alber Elbaz) in Paris – Photos by Marcio Madeira
Bottega Veneta (with Tomas Maier at the helm) in Milan – Photos by Marcio Madeira
The idea behind this trend was a return to basics illustrated by lots of Little Black Dresses, 1950s pencil skirts, high-waisted pants and tailored blouses. Many designers seemed to believe that if a shopper was going to spend money in this economy, they would invest it in something that will be a continual asset to their wardrobe. They eschewed Oscar Wilde’s idea that “fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.”
TREND: Unique designs: If not an investment piece, at least get a big bang for your buck
Alexander McQueen RTW – Photos by Giovanni Giannoni
When not displaying investment pieces, clothing with special details and theatrical flair was found in abundance. Some of the designers that usually skew towards the creative went even further over the top. Alexander McQueen was the best example of this couture proclivity. His show was staged with piles of debris from some of his previous presentations complete with a runway composed of broken glass- a fitting metaphor for the times.
TREND: Color: A prevalence of black along with splashes of color
Alexander Wang RTW – Photos by Marcio Madeira
Black is back in full force as this seemed to be a comfortable hue for a whole host of designers. Alexander Wang was a fitting example of a runway chock full of black.
Black, white, and grey were predominant shades displayed on the runways. This was visible in Alexander McQueen’s Paris show, with the use of a plethora of houndstooth fabric. Many designers working predominantly in black broke up the darkness with a touch of deep purple, among them Doo-Ri Chung and Carlos Campos.
Snippets of bright colors were present in some collections and when they were visible they were often a continuation of spring’s 1980s color trends.
TREND: 1980s influences
Marc Jacobs RTW – Photos by Marcio Madeira
Several designers at both the New York and Milan shows looked to the 80s to find inspiration for their fall collections. Donna Karen highlighted the wide shoulder look from that era. Marc Jacobs showcased looks from the years that made him famous, reverting back to his comfort zone with a show comprised of clothes apropos to the decade that spawned Madonna’s career and ladies’ power suits.
TREND: Glitter and Shine
Etro RTW – Photos by Davide Maestri
Sequined dresses, metallic fabric and oversized jeweled necklaces appeared in several collections such as the Etro and Blumarine presentations in Milan. In New York, Domenico Vacca presented many multi-colored, fully sequenced party dresses.
TREND: Big, Bold Accessories to dress up a simple outfit
Narciso RTW – Photos by Don Ashby & Olivier Claisse
The color presentation may have been muted and the silhouettes of many lines simple, but styling made up for the lack of ostentation in the clothes. Decorative, grandiose necklaces and both thick and thin belts enlivened many of the unassuming, investment pieces on display. The opaque tights trend continued from seasons past with the majority of legs covered up on the runway. Narciso Rodriguez’s models were ensconced in black or white opaque tights and elsewhere mustard and purple tights were a part of many presentations.
TREND: Clothing as Protection for a strong woman
Prada RTW – Photos by Giovanni Giannoni
At this depressing economic juncture, some designers chose to provide women with a physical representation of a metaphorical shield. Giorgio Armani presented the 1980s influenced power suits that proclaim, “a woman can do anything” combined with patent leather gloves and berets. Frida Giannini for Gucci showcased chic clothing for tough women with a strong undertone of rocker chick. Narciso Rodriguez paired his clothing with knit helmets that covered half the face. Kate and Laura Mulleavy for their Rodarte collection turned out looks appropriate for a modern day superheroine. Miuccia Prada armed her women with 1940s inspired skirt suits and dresses composed of strips of studded leather with swinging carwash skirts that resembled medieval armor.
One final effect of the state of the times was the toned down nature of many of the shows and a return to salon style presentations similar to the showings of fashion houses in the past. Creatively, shows were staged at clubs, bars, even on the internet - all in an effort to save money. Many people wonder if the new industry trends are a foreboding of fashion to come. Although some fashion houses, vendors, and many retailers will not survive this downturn, I believe that the industry as a whole is experiencing a momentary slump - a knee-jerk reaction- to the economic environment. Extravagance in fashion will rise again, and when it does, hopefully it will be in an an intelligent, inspired manner, bringing the creativity and artistry of fashion back into the center of the spotlight.
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