Jacobs’ bad taste shakes up a safe New York

After so much white organza in New York, Marc Jacobs’ kitschy 30s look was a refreshing change.

Marc Jacobs close-upI’ve been taking a look at the first couple of days of New York’s spring 2009 collections and picked up a few trends that might be useful for prime-time women.

Trends those of us over 40 can safely ignore include leggings under chiffon dresses, raggedy cut-offs worn through to holes, trousers with the legs in two different colours, huge 1980s shoulders (seen at Proenza Schouler), jumpsuits and – joy of joys – harem pants, gawd help us. 

MizrahiwrapcoatFirstly, of the trends that are actually wearable, are wrapped garments with bows, a la kimono, in all lengths from blouses to full-length coats and knee-length dresses. This is a good shape as long as you don’t go overboard, and was in fine form at Isaac Mizrahi, as seen in this pink coatdress at left. It would look great in, say, a silver-grey organza coat (I’m only saying this because I’ve already got one…) but it’s easy to echo it, too, by buying a simple silk sash and tying it in a bow over, say, a wrapped shirt front.

OhneTitelSecondly, layering, which is great for now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t (and let’s face it, most of us over 40 don’t want you to see it, or at least not all of it). Most layers were shown in chiffon (see Ohne Titel, right) or organza and I’d opt for the latter as being crisper looking and harder wearing – my favourite would be a white organza blouse worn over a white vest. But again you could echo the trend by simply buying a big silk chiffon square in your most flattering colour and tying it over whatever else you’re wearing.

Luca dressAsymmetry was in evidence everywhere, with one-shoulder tops springing up in every collection. This, I feel, is not the most flattering of styles but asymmetry also appeared, more intriguingly, in places like this neckline from Luca Luca. 

Mizrahi dressColours are pretty much anything as long as they’re spring-like – lots of white, of course, acid yellows, spring greens, rose pinks, vibrant orange (seen everywhere – if you’re going to copy this, as in this Mizrahi dress, left, a shot silk is probably best, don’t do it in a cheap fabric). But if you prefer monochromes, as I do, there were plenty of of examples from Caroline Herrera (below right). Jill Stuart also showed a lot of clothes in soft dove-grey chiffon and a soft beigey-taupe that I found very appealing – colours that also reappeared at Peter Som.

There were very few prints to be seen, in general, with designers preferring either plains, or to break colour using embellishment such as sequins or self-coloured appliques.

Herrera outfitAlong with organza and chiffon, very fluid and slippery satin is a trend fabric, which again you could echo with a sash, scarf, bag or smaller item like a blouse, though I’d steer clear of whole-body garments unless you’re very thin.  

Many of the fashions were very feminine, which is interesting, given that there’s almost certain to be a recession. It reminds me of the ultra-femme clothes produced during the First World War, almost as if they were designed to cheer the men home from the front. There were ruffles everywhere at necks and hems. I have to be careful about this sort of thing, being 5’1", but the taller you are, the more you can get away with. The other chief look was resort-ish – Gabrielle Chanel on the Riviera – kind of sporty but not sweaty.

BeckhamdressBeckhamskirttopBeckhamtightdressCan’t let the day go by without a mention of Victoria Beckham’s first-ever fashion collection, which I have to admit I thought was lovely – elegant, subdued, very sexy in a quiet way. I’m astonished, as I had no idea she had such good taste. The collection will retail at a fantabulous amount but is sure to be knocked off at lower price points, which, unfortunately, rather than quality cut and cloth will doubtless pick up on the most-easily copied aspects such as the pink-gilt zip at the rear – designed, I imagine, to be undone by an admirer rather than the wearer herself.

Marc JacobsJacobs 2The complete and total exception to ALL of the above was Marc Jacobs, who has clearly been using a different trend predictor from everybody else. His collection looked like no-one else’s, mainly in dark and rich colours, complex prints, gingham and displaying a complete rag-bag of styles as if his models had thrown on everything in the dressing-up box.

Overall, the silhouette was very 30s – very Bonnie and Clyde – and provided a refreshing antidote to quite so much subdued resortwear. Somehow, after all the rest, Jacobs’ bad taste looked like good taste and made everything else look safe and boring. The competition pales in comparison. Jacobs’ determination to go his own way reminds me of St Laurent at his finest. 

Have to see what the remains of the week bring…For photos of all the collections, visit www.style.com.

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