Spring’s welcome arrival has a way of making everything look just a little bit brighter. Winter’s gone. The city’s in bloom. Even the tone of the clothes looks fresh and new. And with good reason.
This season, fashion travels along a simpler path. Gone are the too-obvious gimmicks, the doodads, the overabundance of details that tend to clutter clothes. Gone, too, are the troublesome fads that plagued past collections-the willowy waifs, the flower-power punks, the tie-dyed hippies. Instead, for spring, designers adhere to a simple, more modern style-one designed with real women in mind. Almost minimalist in their approach, these forthright clothes are cut clean and wearable.
To make sure the clothes look as fresh as they feel, designers spiff up the unaffected silhouettes with just the right amount of color and pattern. In turn, these clothes look right in real-life situations-not just on models strolling the runway. Real clothes for real women? What a novel idea.
In addition to choosing a more ingenuous design approach, style-makers stray from the drab darks and no-nonsense neutrals of seasons past. Banished to the back of the closet this spring, these classically correct, albeit boring, standbys are replaced by an oh-so-weleome rush of color. The result? Spring’s tantalizing tints arrive in a rainbow of breezy hues-the perfect foil to soft and simple silhouettes. Designers such as Richard Tyler, Isaac Mizrahi, and Ellen Tracy delight in frosty sherbet shades. Raspberry ice, key lime, and aqua give their simplest shapes a cool cast. Others-Gianni Versace, Todd Oldham, and Joan Vass, among them-prefer eye-popping citrus hues like lime green, lemon yellow, and orange-orange. These shades provide plenty of punch to sizzle into summer.
For women who want to stroll through spring quietly, pale washes of dove gray, fragile pink, and lavender tinge collections with a whisper of barely-there color. Even white, a perennial warm-weather favorite that showed up in most collections here and abroad, looks anything but basic. It slides singularly across silhouettes and shoes as a solo player, or pairs up with black for a bold one-two punch.
Color-shy sylphs who simply must have a dose of something dark in which to dress are in luck, too, This spring, designers offer brown as an alternative to black. Giorgio Armani loves taupe. Miuccua Prada prefers mid-range coffee colors. Dolce & Gabbana, on the other hand, serve up everything from espresso and Java to milky mocha and creamy cafe au lait. Those who crave something warmer should consider the assortment of red-tinged tones like mahogany, russet, auburn, and cinnamon. Pair a burnt hue with one of die season’s bold new brights for a sassy color combo. But don’t toss out those neutral-toned basics from past seasons. Instead, update them with some of the season’s bold new hues. A touch of tint has a wonderful way of making everything old look new again.
Best of all, in addition to compatible color combinations, the latest silhouettes also mix-and-match with last year’s favorites. While solid splashes of color drench everything from coatdresses to pantsuits, a bounty of graphic prints still abounds. Those in search of a little pattern play can choose from cheeky checks. Op Art prints, sleek stripes, and lots of dots. Florals and plaids also add a decorative touch,
To balance the abundance of color, designers offer a more restrained silhouette selection. For day or night, casual or elegant, die season’s prime shapes borrow from sports-wear’s simplicity. Such understated silhouettes work hard to place a premium on comfort, as well. Perfectly pared down, crisp and clean, spring’s clothes are as relaxed as they are appropriate. Most garments are sliced to skim the body, not wrestle it into submission. Bias-cut skirts float languidly to the ankle. Jackets mold softly to the body or dance around it in unstructured glee. Pants show up either as full floats or slim and trim. Twin sets combining a sleeveless sweater or camisole with a cardigan are slightly boxy and cropped to float lightly above the waist.
If fall was considered the season of the suit, spring will no doubt go down in fashion history as the time of the dress. Every designer showcased a favorite version of this one-piece ensemble. The result: a selection as varied as the women who will wear them. While the simple elegance of fall’s favorite A-line sheath continues to rate raves this season, it is no longer the only dress worth noting. Straight-shooting shirtdresses, relaxed coatdresses, and uncomplicated shifts all vie for the attention of women interested in showing a little leg. Some even slip under a jacket to create a new suit.
Like the shape of things to come, fabrics also ease up. The rigid materials necessary for molding fall’s tailored clothes into shape give way this season to more malleable options. Designers have no choice. Spring’s relaxed attitude demands clothing with more give than take. Sportswear sculptors like Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, and Donna Kazan depend on liquid fabrics for flowing tank dresses, long skirts, and fluid tunics. Unlike their stiff predecessors, fabrics like woven crepe, fine gauge knit, slinky jersey, and smooth gabardine coast along the curves of a woman’s body. Like the silhouettes themselves, these fabrics skim the skin, rather than holding on for dear life. Skinny ribbed knits, lots of leather, lace, chiffon, and miles of silk shantung offer a touch of texture to some of the season’s simplet ensembles. Look for the tactile turn from New Guard design forces Michael Kors, Todd Oldham, Anna Sui, and Marc Jacobs.
While the season’s shift to simpier fashion may seem Plain Jane to the too-trendy, most women should rejoice. After seasons of fad-laden clothes, spring’s rnini-malistic approach offers a refreshing break-and a chance to wear clothing that doesn’t wear you.