Some Designer Influences for 2004
In the New York fashion shows for spring summer 2004 with few
designers shining or showing much creative innovation or inspiration, no new
talent emerged. Fashion designer Donna Karan's DKNY shows off her
traditional signature jersey mixed with bronzed and coppered leathers was aimed
deliberately to satisfy department stores throughout the USA. Her sexy
fashion line will appeal to many consumers.
Tommy Hilfiger used bright candy pinks with white and
orange to create fresh fashions of bomber jackets and extra wide pants, all
highly suited to warm sunny days at the coast.
Ralph Lauren also used strong pastels of the citrus yellow
family. The colour combinations with lilac appeared fresh, new and young whilst
maintaining the elegance and sophistication of the New England well bred woman.
Marc Jacobs looked to the 1920s and 1970s for inspiration.
His designs included fine linen pants, ethereal patterned chiffon tea dresses in
pastels or muted tea tones, house on the prairie velvet skirts, cropped panne
velvet or satin jackets and petticoats with ruffles. Cocktail dresses stopped
well clear of the knee.
Caroline Herrera used masculine pinstriped cottons for
sundresses with ribbon straps. Her evening dresses had a lets dance feel
to them. Yellow featured prominently in tango dresses and there were some
lady in red satin full length evening gowns.
Proenza Schouler showed cropped jackets, swing coats,
piped bustier tops and concentrated on using stripes to good effect.
Bright yellow patent leather jackets added a zeitgeist feel.
Zac Posen continued the ladylike theme with sophisticated
movie star 1940s tailored jackets. The simple bias cut satin dresses and
tops in expensive tones of blush peachy pink and oyster were as suitable
for the bedroom as the prom.
So too did Narciso Rodriguez, but his designs were more
carefully done concentrating on highlighting bodylines with the geometry of the
stripes. He favoured soft cream and fawn with lilac and pink bursts of
colour, as well as tomato red, violet and brushed gold. As usual he presented
many bandage tight styles already familiar to fans.
Michael Kors also opted for striped fabrics with his sea
faring inspired striped nautical dresses with cutaway armholes ideal for Italian
summer holidays. Cover ups for these sundresses were suede bombers in
sharp orange. Halter neck Grecian style aqua blue gowns that swept the
floor took the collection from casual playtime clothes to dress up and be grown
up evening garb that was elegant whilst understated.
Dolce and Gabbana produced limited edition 1930s
inspired beaded and pleated floor length goddess dresses in sweet pea colours
which draped and flowed with the grace once seen in the dresses of old movies.
The detailing on them was so intricate that mass reproduction would be
difficult. But no doubt some manufacturer with ability will feel inspired
enough to make an adapted version at a more affordable price for the masses.
Floral prints blossomed on both dresses and tights.
At Versace prints were back blossoming over silken chiffon
fabrics. Bright tropical fruit colours and hot greenhouse florals were
seen on everything from day suits to halter evening dresses. Primary
coloured halter tops reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe looked grown up and worth a
Gucci showed 35 bags. Their latest bag is often a
must have fashion trend accessory for fashionistas. The popularity of
their bags has waxed and waned over the years, going in and out of favour.
One bag destined as the new power bag of autumn 2003 was Gucci's horse bit style
clutch bag with strap, that sent queues around a London store as customers
sought the latest must have item.
The latest Gucci bags feature luxury looks and bejewelled gold
chains with flashes of hot colours in materials like snakeskin. The
snakeskin theme continued through to biker jackets in gold amid over the knee
skirts featuring fans of pleats over sheer chiffon worn with flesh toned legs.
Glamorous cut satin cocktail dresses that were ruched or pleated
or made from ribbons of silk often had clearly fetish undertones designed to
make the clothes as sexy and desirable as ever.
Miuccia Prada revisited the 1950s and using bitter colours
often dyeing garments using the ombre shading method she showed sundresses,
shirtwaisters, pedal pushers along with crisp knife edge pleating.
Jil Sander re-entered the Milan fashion scene after a 3
year absence. She worked with a minimal palette of white, tan, putty and mustard
using two layers of fabric to create understated beautifully cut classic clothes
that were not futuristic, but deemed very desirable by devotees of her look.
In September London Fashion Week showed 50 fashion designer shows
officially, with another 30 or so unofficial ones. Innovative inspiration
was less than in some years, but some attractive colourful clothes were in
However, Ben de Lisi, a master of relaxed glamour dresses, focused
on halter neck or strapless evening dresses in soft fluid jerseys and crepes de chines. Ideal for an Oscar ceremony, the black, aqua and coral stunning
colours he used showed these styles at their best. Picasso paintings
inspired his fabric prints of hot deep pink and white or white and black fabrics
swirling with geometric shapes and abstract swirls. Asymmetry and
decorative embellishment, use of crystals and ribbon belts added a fresh
dimension to many styles and will easily creep into mass produced fashions to
give that designer element.
Betty Jackson took her inspiration from a Capri summer
scene using fantastic prints that looked freshly brushed from an artist's
palette. She chose to use frothy chiffon in tiers for dresses trimmed with
black crossway trim. The 50's silhouette was strongly defined and all were
sharply contrasted with black. The use of shades of green was a forward
looking feature of her collection which mixed and contrasted in a sophisticated,
wearable way. Feminine looks with ruffles on skirts and dresses combined
with jackets and wispy chiffon corsages, hinted at both aggressive and feminine
tones in a wide range of ensembles.
Jasper Conran based his latest collection on an African
theme and produced clothes for grown ups. He showed lots of geometric
patterned and batik printed dresses, likely to be hugely popular this summer, as
they fit in with the rustic ethnic themes found in textiles generally.
Ronit Zilkha also showed an African selection in raw earth
colours and natural accessories using cane and straw. Other ideas included
an alpine inspired theme with pretty Tyrolean Heidi style cardigans and peasant
style trims. A more exotic theme had a Mardi Gras feel with bright layered
chiffons made into pretty appealing envy making dresses with fluttering edges
and thigh high splits. Perfect for dressed up holiday moments.
Clements Ribeiro began his show with a nautical theme
showing striped cashmere knitwear trimmed with anchor style motifs and rope
belts. He used traditional colour mixes like red and white as well as
newer combinations of stripes in softer pastels enlivened with chocolate or
orange. Peasant dresses in light pink floral prints and trimmed with black
ribbons or white piping made for feminine comfortable clothes that looked fresh
and modern made to suit hazy summer days.
Elspeth Gibson showed pretty flirty feminine close fitting
dresses, sometimes flapper style and unstructured loose, delicately embroidered
jackets and coats. She looked to the past for inspiration yet managed to combine
frayed edge techniques and raw edges in garments, making them very much of the
present. One interesting point was her use of evening length gloves worn
as accessories and a return of brooches and bows as features.
Paris couture continues to be about selling
the dream to the masses ultimately through more affordable accessories,
perfume, cosmetics, lingerie, scarves, jewellery and optical products,
rather than actual clothing. Ideas were sparse in Paris in autumn 2003 and
concentrated far too much on the next style of bag, which many more women
can afford compared to the dress. This made for boring fashion shows
from a city that thinks of itself as the fashion capitol of the world.
This hold is dwindling as the global nature
of current methods of communication changes outlooks. Recent hints
from the house of Chanel suggest that since 50% of its couture customer base
is from the USA, the house is considering showing in New York in the
near future. This will appeal to the customers that are reluctant to
travel to Europe just for a fashion show, when the fashion show could travel
to them. Even so the couture aspect is unlikely to go into profit, but
the prestige gained from showing on USA soil will enhance the cachet of
Chanel and all the offshoot items.
The problem appears to be in the fact that
some of the couture houses now direct their designs with selling on the high
street rather than creating new innovative garments that may or may not work
or form the gem of a starting pint for a new look. Feminine and
desirable chiffon dresses from Julien MacDonald and Stella McCartney
were attractive, but were nothing new style wise.
Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel continued to
produce tasteful superbly cut, perfect couture suits, that women from 18 to
80 adored. Tailoring is fundamental to good couture and Lagerfeld is
the current master of it making refinement of his art a luxury statement.
John Galliano at Christian Dior made a
sexy modern young couture collection where Latino inspired flamenco flounces
were worn with sweat tops and were in complete contrast to the formal
couture evident in Lagerfeld's elegant designs. His raunchy style of
underwear as outerwear, whilst sexy, is not very practical as inspiration
for an everyday look and although modern and witty is less appealing than
when new and shocking.
Jean Paul Gaultier put catwalk models
into all in one, skintight figure hugging bodysuits with equally close
hugging head helmets. The suits were cut with couture perfection to
fit each model perfectly like a second skin and were accessorized with fur
pieces. This might sound innovative, but Vivienne Westwood did her fig
leaf collection along this line years ago. His classic Grecian evening
dresses in hot colours of orange and purple were fabulous in the couture
Tom Ford at Yves St Laurent delivered
his last show with satin hip belted jackets, variations on the traditional
YSL tuxedo and used cream, white and silver grey to create romantic evening
Some Final Reminders for Updating Looks
What Fashion Items Should You Discard or
If you are still wearing that look of little
velvet edge trimmed cardigans and matching knee length jacket coats as
trouser suits, reassess how passé and somewhat 90s the look has become.
Think twice about buying cargo pants or combats - most designers have
ditched them, yet still favour jeans. If you must still buy those
available on the high street, look for the fresher newer twists that many
Never confuse dress down with don't care when dressing for work, styles move
on and so does casual dress along with what is, or is not acceptable in business
If you buy only 5 items in the sales this winter whilst
waiting for warmer days to wear spring and summer fashions, go for classics
that you can wear all through 2004.
Invest in a pair of the sexiest, latest hip hugging denim
jeans such as Rogans, but which you can wear now come rain or shine.
Or find your own perfect jeans or black trousers. We all come in so many shapes and
sizes with either big thighs or slender thighs that seeking out the perfect
pair of personal jeans or trousers is time well spent.
Build up some accessories and get a real or mock croc hard
framed hand bag like grandma loved or invest in real or mock croc, alligator
or snakeskin shoes. Russell and Bromley do up to date high street
versions of these that are far more affordable than designer versions.
Seek out a beautifully cut pencil skirt and team it with a fine polo roll
neck or V cashmere top and a pair of knee high boots under the coat you
bought in autumn 2003.
If you didn't get a classic 60's inspired coat then, look
around for the perfect classic trench coat - opt for a Burberry if you can
afford it, otherwise scour the shops for one with an edge. Ring the
changes by alternating the boots for opaque or fancy tights or coloured
suede or croc style shoes. Add
interesting gloves such as those from Gap with inspired contrast leather
finger detailing or coloured suede ones from Miss Selfridge at £12.
A few carefully chosen buys like these gleaned from the
winter sales will make classic, but worthwhile additions to your wardrobe
for 2004 without buying into last year's passing fads as you observe what
you really want in your perfect 2004 wardrobe. Browse the jewellery
counters for attractive chandelier style earrings.
Remember upscale designer accessories or lookalikes are a
less costly way to buy into a label or trend than clothes. They are
often instantly recognisable as having a now wow factor to those in the know
and can offer an instant updating fashion fix to a seasonless outfit.
Take a few hours to reassess your clothes and clear away all
items that look past their best. Chiffon will be everywhere this year
so save every chiffon item you have. Next clear out all items that
don't fit you, never fitted you, you hate, you put back in the wardrobe
every time you thought to put it on and any which look dull, dowdy, pre
millennium or frankly vulgar exposing too much fake tan and should have
stayed in the store.
Ditch the fake tan; you will laugh at how tacky it looks
next year in photographs.
You really do know exactly what I mean, but try not to kid
yourself that you will slim into an item or grow into it! If it has
languished in your wardrobe since last winter's sales, chances are it will
still be there unworn in January 2005.
Finally make a note of the colours and fabrics to look out for and detailed
above in these articles. Carry this with you and keep it as a checklist
to work around the fine details. To conclude, 2004 will see a major
and welcome return to colour and pattern with plenty of chiffon and textured
fabrics. The looks you choose will be looks that suit you. No two of
us will choose to follow the same fashions, but these are some of the trends
that may attract or inspire you when shopping.
Happy shopping on or offline.
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