Fashion Trends

Spring Theories

At runway shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris, designers posted bold style ideas

by: Rebecca Malinsky and Rory Satran

Originally published October 5, 2018 in The Wall Street Journal

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“WHAT IS REAL is what lasts,” said Oprah Winfrey in her toast to Ralph Lauren at his recent anniversary event in Central Park. After 50 years as a pivotal fashion figure with an unwavering American aesthetic, Mr. Lauren has outlasted his contemporaries like Donna Karan and Calvin Klein, both of whom no longer design for their namesake companies. At the close of a season marked by change, Mr. Lauren’s consistency stands out in a mutable fashion landscape. While some brands are still defined by their core DNA, others have been reinvented by a revolving-door procession of creative directors.

At the label Mr. Klein launched in 1968, originally known for its beige-y minimalism, Belgian designer Raf Simons proposed inventive, postmodern clothing for spring with references from prom to “Jaws.” It was heart-poundingly fun, and relevant, but bore little resemblance to Mr. Klein’s blueprint. At Celine, which former creative head Phoebe Philo turned into a brand beloved by women for its professional yet comforting shapes, Hedi Slimane divisively pulled the accent off the first “e” and sent sharp, very-Slimane tailoring and abbreviated dresses down the runway. The renegade designer Demna Gvasalia continued his sleight of hand at Balenciaga, combining elements from the brand’s past (like architectural waistlines) with technical fabrics. More faithfully, Pierpaolo Piccioli drew gasps for his gowns at Valentino, many in the brand’s signature scarlet color. And as one of the few designers who rivals Ralph Lauren’s longevity, Miuccia Prada unveiled delightfully (and characteristically) eccentric efforts at both Prada and Miu Miu. A variation on Ms. Winfrey’s sentiment seems likely to be chewed over in seasons to come: Do women want consistency or evolution?

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Seeing Spots

That Betty Boop-ish vintage standby, polka dots, was given new life. From left: a sweet minidress at Carolina Herrera (care of a new designer, Wes Gordon); a sheer frock (slip required) at Prada; volume play at Celine; va-va-voom mega-dots at Dolce & Gabbana; a baby-doll at Burberry (newly designed by Riccardo Tisci).

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To Dye For

This season proved that tie-dye, against all odds, can be refined. From left: An acid-washed interpretation on the cool girls at Proenza Schouler; a ladylike, deconstructed, shibori-style skirt at Prada; hints of a Bali summer gone absolutely right by Paco Rabanne; a silken slip dress at Christian Dior ; a showstopping, full-tie-dye jumpsuit (on Kaia Gerber, Cindy Crawford’s daughter) at Stella McCartney.

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Noir Hour

Inky, gathered, voluminous dresses were a novel idea for evening. From left: The Row’s sheer layers of chicness; Thick navy knots show Rei Kawakubo’s mastery at Comme des GarçonsSimone Rocha’s silk taffeta garment, topped off with a lacy veil; an off-the-shoulder gown at Valentino.

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Shore Things

Retro beach vibes harked back to more glamorous summer travel. From left: patterned splendor at Etro; the ultimate embroidered caftan at Tory Burch; a fringed ensemble at Valentino for SPF-50 types; that Goa lifestyle at Chloé; a yé-yé-girl shift at Chanel, where the models walked barefoot on a ‘beach.’

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Practical Magic

Refined utility looks will make phone storage a cinch in spring. From left: Sheer pocket play at FendiGivenchy’s luxe cargo pants are wish list-worthy; Hermès nailed the pocket-y jumpsuit; at Loewe the pockets were almost as big as the garment; Louis Vuitton’sfuturistic woman uses old-school utility tricks.

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Entrenched

From left: Croc coat at Burberry; a pearly gradient at Gabriela Hearst; ruffled sleeves at Max Mara; stripped-down stripes at Tod’s.

Once And For All: Are Leggings Pants? - WSJ

Illustration: Steve Scott/The Wall Street Journal

Illustration: Steve Scott/The Wall Street Journal

Why We Hate Them

Few sartorial sins violate good taste as much as wearing leggings outside the gym (though strolling about in a visible thong comes close). Even if you’ve wriggled into leggings to flex and grunt, proceed with caution. Many a fitness enthusiast doesn’t realize that these second-skin bottoms can be see-through from behind when stretched. Having been subjected to this vision at my Pilates class, I can attest to its unpleasantness.

Still, opting for leggings as ready-to-wear is a far worse offense. “But they’re so comfortable!” their defenders cry. So is my terry cloth bathrobe, but I’m not going to throw that on for a breakfast meeting. The “comfort” argument has also been used to justify sweatpants—another garment best suited for workouts or aimless Saturday mornings alone—since the ’90s when Jerry Seinfeld’s character on “Seinfeld” said of sweats: “You’re telling the world, ‘I give up. I can’t compete in normal society. I’m miserable, so I might as well be comfortable.’” Leggings, sweatpants’ slimmer cousin, denote a similar lack of effort and imagination.

Known for her feminine dresses and floral prints, New York-based designer Tanya Taylor said she’d never feature leggings in her collections: “They don’t feel like our customer,” she said. Leggings, she argued, should be restricted to times when comfort is your only priority. “I don’t think they’re something that you should wear to work.” 

Anne Huntington, the 34-year-old vice president of business development at Huntington Learning Center and founder of creative agency AMH Industries, concurred. Because she travels constantly for work, Ms. Huntington said, “Even if I’m taking a phone or video call, I’m dressed as I would be in a face-to-face meeting. It puts me in a professional mind-set.”

She added that even a packed schedule doesn’t validate the laziness of leggings. “If you’re busy, you have to be ready for any situation.” Including a more dressed-up affair that bears no resemblance to an aerobics class.

Clothing affects how others perceive us, and how we perceive ourselves. Multiple studies have linked dressing up with positive performance at work. An outfit has the power to inject us with confidence or lull us into a malaise-infused sense of security. We can do better than leggings. We can get dressed. 

—Katharine K. Zarrella

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Why We Love Them

According to Norma Kamali, the 73-year-old fashion designer who espouses a fitness-as-life philosophy, we’re getting the leggings debate all wrong. We should be debating the fit of leggings, not issuing blanket statements about their appropriateness. When worn too tight, they’re shocking; when worn just right, they’re sleek. “I believe that leggings [can be] even more provocative than bikinis or mini skirts,” cautioned Ms. Kamali, “because they are worn on the street and they are closer to looking like you have second skin than any other piece of clothing.”

Which brings me to my defense of leggings as pants: How you style them matters. I’m in the camp that considers them a wardrobe staple, suitable for working out, the office and even more formal events. The same discreet, dark base layer can go under a blousy white shirt for work, a sweatshirt for the airplane or a crisp jacket for a cocktail party.

“Leggings are versatile. They can be dressed up and down, worn with heels, flats or sneakers,” confirmed Christine Centenera, whose uniform-inspired line Wardrobe.NYC is composed of just eight pieces with one pant option being a legging. “We all live active, busy lives,” the very busy Ms. Centenera said of her formula’s ease. 

Plus, wearing leggings as pants—stylish pants!—has a fashionable legacy. Since Lycra’s invention in 1958, body-skimming pants have featured in iconic looks: Emilio Pucci did patterned ones in the ’60s; and in the ’80s designers like Ms. Kamali and Azzedine Alaïa made soignée versions for women who aspired to look like Madonna.

Today, brands like Live the Process offer athletic leggings with fashionable higher waists, while Versace and Céline have made intricately cut designer pairs. Céline’s stretch-heavy fall 2016 show was the watershed moment in my own leggings story, inspiring me to buy a slim-but-not-too-skinny pair from that collection: matte black with a zip up the front that opens nicely over flats or boots.

Leandra Medine Cohen, founder of fashion site Man Repeller, was in her own sporty-yet-luxe Céline leggings when we spoke. “I least frequently wear them to work out,” she said, “which is the great irony in my relationship with them.” For those who say leggings should be confined to the gym, consider this: Ms. Medine recently wore hers to a wedding with a tuxedo jacket, crystal-encrusted belt and strand of pearls. Which is as far from the yoga studio as one can get. 

—Rebecca Malinsky

Original story here

Strands That Deliver - WSJ

Photo: F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal. Necklaces from top: Mikimoto, Tiffany, Louis Vuitton, Sidney Garber. Top, Chanel

Photo: F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal. Necklaces from top: Mikimoto, Tiffany, Louis Vuitton, Sidney Garber. Top, Chanel

Perhaps you've spotted a woman who hangs heirlooms around her neck just so; or you fondly recall Carrie Bradshaw’s piled-on pearls and chains; or you just like browsing through the thousands of photos hashtagged #layerednecklace on Instagram. Doubling, tripling, even quadrupling up on necklaces has looped back into vogue as an irreverent way to wear jewelry. For the novice, balance is key, as demonstrated in the five approaches shown here. Don’t be afraid to adopt a high-low strategy: Your kids’ crafted beads are fair game, as is that fine jewelry piece you’ve never known quite how to deploy. So next time you leave the house, instead of taking off one piece of jewelry, as mom implored, consider putting another on.

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Photo: F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal

Photo: F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal

The Skeptical Minimalist 

If your taste skews less-is-more, stay within your comfort zone by juxtaposing just two delicate pieces. From top: Kataoka Necklace, $2,980, 180 the Store, 212-226-5506; Beach Stone Necklace, $1,800, cvc-stones.com; Rosetta Getty Dress, $890, Bergdorf Goodman, 212-753-7300

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Photo: F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal

Photo: F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal

The Avid Bohemian

Talismans lend themselves to gypsy excess, so it typically works to pile on meaningful lockets and chain-strung coins with abandon. From top: Eye Necklace, $1,493, litofinejewelry.com; Tassel Necklace, $3,750, Lalaounis, 212-439-9400; Coin Necklace and Chain, $2,200, azleejewelry.com; Horse Coin Pendant, $2,950, templestclair.com; Retrouva Necklace, $8,900, Ylang23, 866-952-6423; Monete Necklace, $20,000, Bulgari, 212-315-9000; Dress, $5,050, louisvuitton.com

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Photo: F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal

Photo: F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal

The Freewheeling Vacationista

If you like to incorporate a beachy aesthetic into your look (even when you’re stuck in the office), go multicolor and mix larger beads with subtler stones. From top: Emerald Necklace, $8,400, Jemma Wynne, 212-980-8500; U-Tube Necklace, $120, roxanneassoulin.com; Turquoise Bead Necklace, $6,490, Irene Neuwirth, 323-285-2000; Bead Necklace, $2,475, Carolina Bucci, 44-207-235-0051; Shirt, $55, everlane.com

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Photo: F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal

Photo: F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal

The Treasure-Hunting Gallerina

Curate your necklace stack as artfully as you approach everything else, by combining playful costume jewelry and more organic materials. Collar Necklace, $1,200, agmesnyc.com; Face Necklace, $165, ninakastens.com; Resin Necklace, $228, toryburch.com; Officine Générale Shirt, $280, saks.com

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Photo: F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal

Photo: F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal

The Doyenne-in-Training

If you’re lucky enough to have classic heirlooms like pearl strands lying around (or some cheeky knockoffs), piling them on fearlessly will help make them look less matronly. From top: Pearl necklace, $16,480, mikimotoamerica.com; Tiffany & Co. HardWear Necklace, $9,500, tiffany.com; Blossom Necklace, $2,610, louisvuitton.com; Diamond Rope Necklace, $215,000, Sidney Garber, 312-944-5225; Vest, $1,500, Chanel, 800-550-0005

Original story here

Would You Carry A Clear Handbag? - WSJ

The trend in transparent bags is quite divisive among women. We examine the pros and the cons of going clear

Why We Love Them

LIKE YOU, I’m constantly throwing odds and ends into my bags. By the end of most days, I’ve accumulated a good 5 pounds of pure nothingness: receipts, 75 cents in nickels, yet another lip balm, a handful of business cards, a granola bar wrapper, etcetera ad infinitum. These piles of junk are actually a great impetus to invest in a clear bag, which acts as a forced organizer and life coach. Put that loose change in the wallet that you adore for its organizational capabilities. Charge your phone at night so you’re not running out the door on 9 percent, forced to throw in a Mophie and its accouterments. Find time for breakfast; those packaged bars aren’t good for you, anyway. The clear bag helps us think about what we actually need with us for the day.

Chanel handbags, Photo: F. Martin Ramin for WSJ 

Chanel handbags, Photo: F. Martin Ramin for WSJ 

While the see-through bag may appear to be the kind of novelty only appropriate for young “it girls” with Instagram-ready lifestyles, the trend is nothing new. In the 1940s and ’50s women—including Elizabeth Taylor—went gaga for Lucite purses that are now collectors’ items. And today, women of all ages who adopt a playful approach to fashion are going clear. Take Staud’s plastic tote with its interior leather pouch—it has been restocked three times since December and has a wait list of 1,000 people. Sarah Staudinger, the brand’s co-founder and creative director, says women into their 70s are among its legion of fans. 

At Chanel’s spring 2018 show, the models accessorized tweed suiting and lace evening wear with see-through PVC boots, bags and bucket hats. Chloe King, digital director for Miami-based fashion retailer The Webster, is a fan of designer Karl Lagerfeld’s playful vision for the clear bag, iterations of which he has designed for Chanel for decades. Ms. King would wear one dressed down with a big sweater or a bohemian dress. There is a “hard/soft contrast that makes it a cool addition to a look,” she explained.

For those who don’t take themselves or fashion too seriously, clear handbags are quite simply delightful. As the normcore style with its determined practicality fades out of fashion, organizing a see-through bag’s contents is an amusing way to personalize your look. “Part of the fun is what you put inside it,” Ms. King asserted. “It’s asking to have clementines and playing cards and earphones in there.” 

—Rebecca Malinsky

From left: Staud, Celine, Zara

From left: Staud, Celine, Zara

Why We Hate Them

EVEN IN times that call for greater transparency, I object to the current craze for clear handbags. I don’t want to look at your crumpled receipts and balled-up yoga clothes. And before you tell me you’re one of those tidy types who “curates” her load down to the perfectly bare essentials, I will judge you for that, too.

One of the few privileges of being a woman is the right to travel with all manner of personal effects. While my murse-averse husband makes do with the space in his pockets, I delight in my haul (even if my shoulder doesn’t) and never leave home without a cornucopia of toiletries, a phone charger and enough reading material to sustain me through the year. My bucket bag holds a certain romance for me, and it’s mostly to do with the multitudes contained within. “We all have many mysteries and secrets, and the bags we carry are a reflection of that,” agreed Los Angeles-based handbag designer Clare Vivier, whose 10-year-old line Clare V. hasn’t once veered into clear.

Ms. Vivier is something of a holdout, as more and more brands churn out containers that allow their owners to reveal their possessions to the world beyond their Instagram followers. “It’s just so unattractive!” said Kristofer Buckle, a celebrity makeup artist whose clients include Blake Lively and Mariah Carey. “The only people who should carry a clear plastic bag are prison workers or Bloomingdales employees.” 

Those who buy into the trend have two undesirable options: They can either expose their dirty laundry or treat their bag’s innards with the excruciating meticulousness of an origami artist. No matter how edited a bag’s interior may be, “it doesn’t read as easy and stylish,” said Kate Young, a stylist who works with stars like Margot Robbie and Dakota Johnson. “It says you’re trying too hard.” Ms. Young’s anti-clear stance holds for one exception: A plexiglass Charlotte Olympia clutch with an interchangeable satin lining.

Handbag and accessories designer Gelareh Mizrahi, whose cheeky luxury line contains (opaque) python takes on “thank you” bodega bags, lamented the number of women she sees choosing plastic over mystique. “When you start sleeping next to somebody new, isn’t it more fun to wear beautiful pajamas than walk around completely naked?” she asked. Some things need not come spilling out.

—Lauren Mechling

Original story here 

Revisiting the Allure of Grandma's Matchy-Matchy Outfits - WSJ

Designers like Dolce & Gabbana and Proenza Schouler are proposing coordinated looks that defy the prevailing minimalism of summer fashion

by: Rebecca Malinsky

EACH YEAR post-Memorial Day, the inevitable summer style crisis sets in: What looks fresh when you feel anything but? “I love my Céline blazers,” said Malibu-based designer Lisa Marie Fernandez, “but when it gets hot, it gets hot. And you want to feel nice.” While neutral linen separates are reliable staples and there’s no shortage of underwhelming sundresses, a more surprising summer dressing idea can be found in vintage photos of your grandmother posing in her playsuits on Atlantic City’s boardwalk. 

Brock Collection top and skirt, PHOTO: Andy Ryan for WSJ

Brock Collection top and skirt, PHOTO: Andy Ryan for WSJ

Popularized in the 1940s and ’50s as a matching shorts-and-top set for the beach, with a wraparound skirt for lunch in town, those charmingly retro printed outfits were matchy-matchy precursors to this summer’s explosion of patterned ensembles. 

Whether your taste favors spots or stripes or cherries or pansies, you’ll have your pick of pleasingly coordinated separates. The pieces that pair up to form these outfits are generally sold individually, but Ms. Fernandez—who chose polka dots for her linen button-front tops and skirts this season—said her clients almost always buy a full set. Dolce & Gabbana adorned a cotton mini skirt and crop top in one of its recurring Amalfi ceramic prints, complete with matching headband, shoes and bag for those whose appetite for pattern knows no limits. Proenza Schouler is proposing long floral skirts with matching peplum tops for post-sunset parties. And minimalist line Apiece Apart styled a tank and skirt in colorful stripes together as a full set.

Dolce & Gabbana top, skirt, shoes and headband, PHOTO: Andy Ryan for WSJ

Dolce & Gabbana top, skirt, shoes and headband, PHOTO: Andy Ryan for WSJ

For pragmatists, these two-piece outfits are a no-brainer. Wear the elements together for a low-effort statement look, or expend slightly more styling energy and split them up to achieve (at least) two separate outfits. 

“We are really trying to make it easy,” said Starr Hout, co-founder of Apiece Apart. “Our woman is a mother, a businesswoman, a creative, she is doing things, she is busy like we all are.” The full set takes the thought out of getting dressed; you know the pieces work together. “It’s a one-and-done outfit.” Ms. Hout added.

Beyond that ease, these fun total looks are a nod to the pre-Lululemon days when women reveled in occasion dressing, even for a family day to the beach. “You always feel so much better about yourself when you are dressed up,” said Laura Brock, co-creative director of Brock Collection, a line of ladylike fashion she designs with her husband Kristopher Brock. Ms. Fernandez agreed: “I love dressing up for the warm weather. I don’t even care if I see anyone.”

Lisa Marie Fernandez top and skirt, PHOTO: Andy Ryan for WSJ

Lisa Marie Fernandez top and skirt, PHOTO: Andy Ryan for WSJ

Original story here