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Archive for Monday, March 2, 2009

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Fashion tries to fight downturn

March 2, 2009

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— Whether it was the urban warrior, a Stormtrooper, a rebel rock ‘n’ roller or the woman with the corner office as the muse, designers took an aggressive stance with the fall styles previewed at New York Fashion Week.

It’s what they can do to battle the recession.

The entire industry, including editors, stylists and retailers, all seem to realize just how important next season’s styles are to their livelihoods. And even though they took different approaches, there was one bottom line: They have to give shoppers something they don’t already have.

It could be an outfit with novelty, a special detail or an unusual fabric, or it could be a classic investment piece, but whatever makes it to the stores in the fall must give consumers a sense of value, even if they’re shopping at the highest price points, says Cindy Weber Cleary, fashion director at InStyle.

“Disposable fashion doesn’t seem attractive right now. You want something you’ll either wear the hell out of it every day, or get something you can have for many years,” she says.

The many slim sheath dresses on the runways could be a nod to first lady Michelle Obama, who wears them more often than not, observes Bloomingdale’s fashion director Stephanie Solomon. Moving forward, she suggests, add a belt to keep the silhouette fresh.

Candy Pratts Price, executive fashion director at Style.com, is one of those already in the market for a black dress, probably one from Calvin Klein, or a new suit with a long pencil skirt.

Neither she nor Weber Cleary are into fads like the futuristic football-player size shoulder pads on dresses or too much neon. A strong shoulder in a jacket, though, or a Day-Glo accessory would be a good compromise.

Actual metallics also had a strong showing on the catwalk even if the overall palette was unusual for fall. Other than a whole lot of black, there were the bright pinks, acid greens and safety orange, as well as the easy-to-wear teal blue, violet purple and bottle green.

Some of the key looks:

• The urban warrior: Corset-style bodices; camouflage prints; hard accessories; towering shoes and boots.

• Stormtrooper: Stiff, techno fabrics; metallics; shoulder flange and peplums standing away from the body.

• Rock ‘n’ roller: Leather — mixed with a little lace; black mixed with highlighter colors; miniskirts; tough metal hardware.

• Power player: Skirt suits with a long, lean silhouette; shoulder pads; fur-trimmed coat.

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