Wednesday, January 19, 2022 Jan 19, 2022
55° F Dallas, TX

vanity flair

with primitive prints and retro-chic, the "forward" look looks back
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vanity flair

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Color prints aren’t just by Kodak this year-they’re by Stephen Sprouse, Jean Paul Gaultier, Danny Noble, Bis, Chloe and a whole slew of designers old and new who have partaken in the “prints blitz” for spring ’85. Whether your tastes turn toward the flamboyant florals of the tropical island/jungle varieties, the whimsical romance of soft pastel chintzes or the more upbeat versions of primitives, paisleys, polka dots, geometrics and graffitis, prints are the message, and color is the medium.

It’s virtually impossible to ignore the impact of graffiti. It has made its mark (both figuratively and literally) in American subculture; and, more recently, it has worked its way up to the silk dresses and stretched canvases of designers and artists who have recognized its raw potential for commonplace expression-turned-abstract art form. Both on the runway and in the subway, graffiti is a head liner.

Fun, frivolous and light-hearted floral prints make wonderful materials for spring and summer fashions-either for daywear in polished cottons or for evening in silks and organzas. Kenzo has always done beautifully brilliant floral fabrications, and this year is no exception. Particularly interesting patterns this season are his island prints, as well as his vibrantly colored, larger-than-life-size flower patterns. Also take note of Ralph Lauren’s use of soft pastel prints reminiscent of chintz upholstery fabrics in casual sarongs and chinoiserie collared blouses. Oscar de la Renta has created some lovely floral evening prints, as has Karl Lagerfeld and Un-garo. Although florals aren’t new to the fashion industry, their scale and adaptation to this season’s garments makes them especially refreshing and appealing. And rarely have florals been so widely and innovatively used by so many designers in so many different ways.

Newer prints recently gaining popularity are primitive designs borrowed from basic batiks and African and Aboriginal body paintings. The same squiggles and wavy lines decorating the legs of Masai warriors of Kenya and the Aborigines of Australia’s Outback are appearing on the gauzes and cottons of spring’s ready-to-wear clothing. In their original forms, these prints are wrought in muted shades of ochre and rust; now they appear in slightly grayed versions of pinks, blues and greens mixed with black.

Other interesting uses of printed fabrics are emerging in highly stylized motifs, such as Jean Paul Gaultier’s Felix the Cat print (shown here), and Karl Lagerfeld’s use of Joan Miro’s artist prints. Plaids are still going strong and are being paired with florals along the way; and polka dots and paisleys are an unpredictable match in Danny Noble’s three-piece ensemble of vest, big shirt and pants.

As far as color goes, “bright is right” is an applicable slogan for spring fashions. Red is practically the “new neutral,” to be worn alone or mixed with white, beige or black. For years, we’ve been hearing that yellow was going to be an important fashion; now it’s a reality. Solid brights can be worn together: popsicle pink with parrot green, tamarind orange with chromium yellow. Don’t be afraid of being too bold when mixing motifs and colors; the greatest sin is being boring. Don’t think “match” but rather how to juxtapose different colors and set them off against one another. Upbeat is definitely the mood of these fashions. And last but not least, where would summer be without some semblance of white? In a world of color, solid white becomes a dramatic fashion statement.

Perhaps the most interesting development in the season’s trends is the manifestation of an “ethloric” look. What’s “ethloric”? “Ethnic” is defined by Webster’s as “pertaining to a nation or people.” “Folkloric” is an adjective describing the “traditional customs of a common people (i.e., kindred tribe).” In today’s fashion vocabulary, “ethloric” has come to represent a hodgepodge or conglomeration of cultures, customs, costumes, peoples and places around the world. Thanks to the advanced technology of television and air travel, our world is shrinking in terms of travel and education, and as cultural barriers slide away, we see the beauty of borrowing a vest from Afghanistan and mixing it with harem pants from India; likewise, a big linen shirt by Calvin Klein makes a natural mate for a sarong from Indonesia. Although it’s on the less serious side of today’s fashion trends, ethloric is not to be underrated; its roots are set upon age-old precedents of fashion classics ranging from the sophisticated elegance of a Japanese kimono to the casual comfort of a pair of Mexican huaraches. An ethloric attitude can be likened unto dining at Mama Mia’s Peking Hacienda: Take what you like from each cultural segment and mix according to your own particular taste, but beware of the richness of the combination or the end result could be a gastronomic nightmare (or a fashion overload).

Another fashion news flash this spring and summer is the Sixties revival. Leading the Sixties pack is 31-year-old designer Stephen Sprouse, whose outrageously bold designs won him acclaim last spring, as well as the accolade of being founder of the “Odd Squad.” (The Odd Squad idolizes Edie Sedgwick and Andy Warhol and “Ciao Manhattan.” They love to hang out in the New Wave bathrooms of New York’s Mudd Club, wear long, lank dynel wigs and act, well, “odd.”) As with the mood 20 years ago, a certain amount of success is derived from equal amounts of shock value. The dynel wigs pictured in our fashion spread are a funny, outrageous exaggeration “prop” representative of the long, silky and straight hair of the Sixties. Those of us old enough to have experienced the Sixties can remember when ironing one’s hair was more important than ironing one’s shirt.

A word about silhouette: As people became more and more involved with health and fitness, fashions reflect their interests. While the big shirt plays a major role in today’s new shapes, note how it is paired with a slim pencil or stirrup pant, midriff top or shorter, body-defining skirt. Oversized doesn’t mean that the wearer has something to hide; instead, it works to play up or focus on other body-revealing pieces. Underwear emerges as outerwear-as exemplified by Issey Miyake’s body-sculpted top-and skirts are getting shorter while tops are getting longer. Still, there are no hard and fast rules, so don’t throw away last year’s matinee lengths.

Our fell predictions: Spring ’85 is leading the way for some major changes in the fall. We still see strong color, but not so much in the primary shades as in bright earth tones such as saffron, to be mixed with “papal purple.” Brocades and tapestries will be very important, leading the way for a plethora of luxurious fabrics. And there will be a general interest in new, experimental textures, such as geometric prints combined with woven fabric. Watch for more emphasis on the hip, and keep an eye on designer Azzedine Alaia.

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