8 new looks from NY Fashion Week
As America's fashion capital kicks off a month of catwalk shows, Lisa Armstrong and Victoria Moss report on the trends set to be vying for space in your wardrobe next spring. Clue: it might be time to get on board with velvet...
1. Velvet: not just for Christmas
When Victoria Beckham explained that she'd wanted to find a way to wear velvet that was "modern and cool" we nodded along sympathetically. Accessories and jackets are one thing, but getting an entire ensemble to work in the fluffy stuff is not always straight-forward or indeed, flattering (fitted trousers, we're mostly looking at you).
But when she unveiled her super lightweight, crushed shimmering peppermint and lilac drawstring skirts and matching loosely worn scoop neck vests with their pretty iridescent glow, we thought 'yes, Mrs Beckham, you're onto something here'.
Imagine if you will, pairing said ensemble with a lightly tanned shoulder and glass of rosé. Completely delicious.
2. Fancy tops from the man who made us fall in love with lace cut-out dresses
Self Portrait, the London-based line designed by Han Chong, has been balancing precariously in the tricky hinterland of 'so hot right now, but what do we do next?' Having reinvented the cocktail dress into an affordable, foxier option - if you've been to a wedding this summer you've no doubt encountered at least one of his cut-out lace confections - the onus has been on him to, well, do something else.
Those dresses might be white-hot, but it doesn't take much for even the most incendiary of trends to wane. But a change of pace has indeed come: while those dresses are still in effect they are edgier and punkier, and alongside this, he's upped the separates ante - and is hopeful of doing the same for fancy tops (shirts with added punch are one strong theme) as he has done for the frock.
We not only applaud his sterling effort, but note the Robert Clergerie shoe collaboration with nothing less than interest highly piqued.
3. Ruffle mania
If you cast even a cursory interest over recent trends you can't have escaped the ruffle mania that overtook skirts, tops and dresses on a woman near you. If this is something you're still coming to grips with, then take heart that you have another season to dip a toe in, or indeed if you went full ruffle, be reassured that the next time the sun's out, you'll still have a sharp option in your wardrobe arsenal - for the ruffle remains strong with us.
However, its shape has shifted slightly. The most popular variant came in diagonal or asymmetric form. Altuzzara spiced up his cherry printed slip dresses with slanted ruffle detail.
4. Big, bold colour
If you've found the recent affectation for simpering pastels a little dry, then be encouraged by the proliferation of sharp, bright, unapologetically bold colours which have been cheering up the schedule. Newcomer Sies Marjan (the label by ex Dries Van Noten designer Sander Lak everyone is talking about) indulged in vibrant yellow, rose pink and tangerine satin ensembles, but it was at Proenza Schouler - a serious highlight of the week - that colour really came into its covetable own.
Mondrian block striped knit dresses with feathered hems worn with hefty platforms, red and black striped Bar jackets over silk handkerchief hem dresses, and a red graffiti zebra print coat worn over a blue and red speckled skirt felt exciting and fresh.
5. Corsets. Yes, really
It's been a while since the corset enjoyed any kind of limelight, but the plucky little body constrictor is mounting a comeback. This time it means business, literally.
Forget the provocative cone-shaped thrustiness of Madonna's early 1990s corsets. The new generation are gently moulded and politely intentioned - it may even have ambitions to work as an alternative jacket. The idea is to wear them over shirts or sweaters and use them to feminise otherwise androgynous oversized slouchiness. "I love them with baggy trousers," says Tibi's Amy Smilovic. "It's such an elegant way to define your waist and flatter your boobs."
It was left to Carolina Herrera, the Guardian Angel of Upper Side chic to make them cross-generationally appropriate and sweet, slipping one of her signature white shirts beneath a shirred-top bodice dress with a feather black. Early adopters can find corsets now from Raey on matchesfashion.com and finery.com.
7. The new dress code? Easy dresses
Even though there isn't as much call for summer dresses in Northern Europe as in New York, when you do need one, nothing else will do for ease and coolness. Putting the cost-per-wear barometer into operation means every dress bought needs to look current for several years.
For our money, some of the best on offer at NYFW came from DVF and Tibi, where the line up of silk crepe dresses came in a myriad of shapes and sleeve options. We especially like the idea of wearing them with boots and knits on cool days.
6. Haute hoodies
The trend for sending models down the catwalk semi-obscured by a sweatshirt hoodie you just know costs several hundred euros is gaining ground. It started at Vetements in Paris last season. It has now spread to New York where Lacoste showed knitted towelling, canvas and Aertex hoods attached not just to tunics and waterproofs but shirt-waister dresses.
Is this a cry of pain against ubiquitous cctv, an attempt to out-hood Kanye West, a practical rebuff to the weather or a styling tic that could get irritating?
All of the above, but we'd still love one of those hoodie Lacoste dresses on bad hair days.
8. Smaller brands making a big impact
While the US's economy is relatively buoyant, retail, at least in New York, is not. In SoHo - a prized location for global luxury brands as well as niche names - there are a worrying number of empty stores. There are ominous signs too, that America's premium marquee names have have lost their lustre. Some smaller brands are zooming however.
Adam Lippes, who used to work for Oscar de la Renta and eschews big shows for intimate presentations in his 1830s apartment on Washington Square, told me his revenues have increased 60pc from last year. Luxurious, classic-but-modern and prices that "have to be a little lower than some of the superbrands," are no doubt helping him make quite the name for himself with a new generation of uptowners.
Plus he's blonde, very personable (the new Michael Kors?) keeps labradoodles - and makes the best wide trousers in town.