Trends but few friends

Jess Cartner-Morley offers eight key looks from New York Fashion Week

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 February, 2013, 3:04pm


When New York Fashion Week controversially moved its position in the catwalk season running order, so that rather than happening after London, Milan and Paris, it took an early slot before the others, the idea was to give the city's fashion scene some breathing space out of the shadow of Europe. No longer could London claim New York was copying its ideas; no longer would buyers arrive weary.

It was a good plan, and for many seasons it worked. But this time it backfired. Despite some strong shows and nice clothes, it felt like a cocktail party that passed without incident, ending with taxis called at a civilised hour rather than a highly charged all-back-to-mine rave-up.

A few examples: Alexander Wang's show was strong, but the drop-waists and softly voluminous silhouettes, along with the choice of the ticketing hall of the Cunard building as a venue, framed it clearly as a precursor to Wang's much-anticipated debut at Balenciaga next week. It was more a wave to Paris than a bow to New York.

And then there was Oscar de la Renta, the colossus of American fashion, whose show was dominated by chatter about his infamous intern from across the Atlantic, John Galliano. More than anything else, the rescheduling of Marc Jacobs' mainline show to a graveyard slot on Valentine's night, a delay caused by the non-arrival of fabrics following the Nemo blizzard, put the week off-kilter, as if someone had moved Christmas Day to December 30 at a few days' notice, leaving you unsure when to don your party hat.

There was something inevitable about the fact that the undisputed model of the week was a Brit. If there's one thing you need to do to be on-trend right now, it is to become obsessed with Cara Delevingne, whose caterpillar eyebrows stomped down almost every catwalk last week. With a Twitter feed featuring snaps of her snogging Rita Ora and eating packets of Monster Munch, she did her level best to liven up New York.


The next big thing: menswear fabrics

Last season's big womenswear noise was around a mannish silhouette. For autumn, it's all about menswear fabrics. Tommy Hilfiger gave preppy style a kooky Hogwarts twist by layering up houndstooth, Prince of Wales checks and pinstripes. See also: windowpane plaid at Victoria Beckham and Philip Lim, houndstooth at Thom Browne.

The comeback: layering

Remember how we were all, "layering's so over, it's all about the crisp simple pieces"? Well, scratch that. Your outfit isn't happening unless there's a shirt collar and tails poking out at neckline and cuff (just one symptom of the general Céline-ification of the modern runway).


The accessory: the beanie

It felt symptomatic of the way this New York fashion week never quite caught fire that the much-hyped grunge revival was not as clear a catwalk trend as expected. The exception was the beanie, the undisputed catwalk and street style key look of the week, seen everywhere from Victoria by Victoria Beckham to Tommy Hilfiger.


The retro trend: 1970s glam

"It's not about going to a party, it's about life as a party," said Diane von Furstenberg backstage. Who's going to argue with that? Von Furstenberg and Marc by Marc Jacobs both reached back to a glorious era of NYC history, the late 1970s, to inject some feel-good rock'n'roll glamour into the week.


The new matchy-matchy

At DKNY, a pink-tinged leopard sweater was worn with a skirt, bag and shoes, all in the same print. Fashion today is about finding new ways to make matching modern. At J. Crew there was a new kind of trouser suit: matching tailored tracksuit bottoms and sweatshirt in upscale fabric. Just don't call it a tracksuit.

The silhouette: the round shoulder

The sharp shoulder is dead. It doesn't really matter whether you take the Alexander Wang route (a Paul Poiret, kimono-ish silhouette) or the sportier, DKNY/Victoria Beckham/J. Crew raglan sleeve route. What matters is that the shoulder is soft and rounded, not Gaga-sharp. Got it?


The name to drop: Thom Browne

He is known for two fashion moments: instigating the cropped-trouser trend as a hipster-menswear motif, and dressing Michelle Obama in a necktie-inspired dress for the inauguration. His show confounded those who expected him to use the inauguration as a commercial springboard. All exaggerated silhouettes and theatrics, it was bonkers and brilliant.


The new phrase: madder carmine

Madder carmine is a purplish red. In the parlance of the British school uniform, we know it as burgundy. Burgundy is making an early attempt to oust navy this season, cropping up everywhere.

Guardian News & Media