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Arts in Review

Haute Stuff: New York Fashion Week – the seasons change

Fashion Week in New York came and went in a flash, leaving in its trail a whole new set of style philosophies to ponder.

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By Leanna Pankratz (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: February 22, 2012

Fashion Week in New York came and went in a flash, leaving in its trail a whole new set of style philosophies to ponder.

“More matter, less art,” said William Shakespeare in Hamlet. “More direction and less in-your-face glamour” is the sartorial translation. The fashion world seems to have made sincere efforts to grow up this season, leaving behind some of the glittery opulence of spring and summer for a whole new type of glamour for the coming winter 2012. Ralph Lauren, who seems to be a recurrent example I cite, took perhaps the most notable steps forward from his flower/frill-injected, Scott-and-Zelda-inspired spring confections into a line that is best described through very English, very aristocratic imagery – set to Edwardian period drama Downton Abbey’s soundtrack. The line included everything from British tweeds to hunting jackets, paired with argyles, fedora and cloche hats, with a few pops of purple and pink in the form of colourful mittens and scarves. It was a sight to behold in greys and beiges; also to be noted was the return of the ultra structured trench coat.

Marc Jacobs impressed all with a spectacle that involved stark black-and-white contrasts, and an overall somber approach that put one in mind of soot-lined Victorian streets, and a true homage to Cecil Beaton’s grand, day-at-the-races hats in the 1964 musical My Fair Lady. The Jacobs line featured swirling, stiff fabrics that called distinct, straightforward attention to feminine curves. Long, leather gloves also made their appearance, as well as clipped in coats in blacks and creams, and sleek, Night Porter-inspired hats. Are we going for Victorian dominatrix this season? Marc Jacobs seems to think so. Everything was hyper-feminine, exaggerated to an extent – yet without a hint of shine. Simple, straight and strong.

The peplum (basically, “a flared or ruffled piece of fabric sprouting from the waistline of a jacket, dress, top or skirt, giving the illusion of exaggerated curves,” as described by Natalie Shukur in the March edition of Nylon magazine) has also seen an unexpected return, perhaps a tell-tale reminder of fashion’s dive into all things stark and structured. The peplum adds a dramatic, eye-catching line to any outfit. While perhaps not the most obviously wearable of fashion pieces, the use of the peplum in 2012 designs certainly hints at a collective shift from sparkle and opulence to a more serious tone. Think Marlene Dietrich rather than Marilyn Monroe. Pearls rather than diamonds. Matte rather than gloss. Get the picture?

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