American designers showing their Spring 2010 collections at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York this fall have responded to the shift in the economy by using bold colors in comforting, familiar silhouettes, or creating eye-catching one-of-a-kind pieces that are completely irresistible.
Key design directions include the layering of sheer fabrics, more distinct color blocking, cut outs and splicing of angular panels, asymmetrical lines, acid wash, and mixing textures and patterns in a fresh patchwork. Dresses, tops and jackets pay homage to the back, promoting a “look as good going as coming” attitude—with some designers spinning two diverse looks front and back.
“But the fashion constant has been and always will be color,” hails Nina Garcia, fashion director Marie Claire and Lifetime's “Project Runway” judge. “There's nothing like a vibrant hue of royal purple or golden yellow to make us feel optimistic and hopeful for the future.”
Color is one of the most essential elements each season as it triggers the emotional ‘buy me' reaction. But now more than ever, women are vigilant in their spending. “Instead of reinventing their wardrobe each season, consumers want pieces to complement what they own,” tells Leatrice Eiseman, executive director Pantone Color Institute. “Pairing a bold color with a basic piece or freshening up a look with bright accents addresses the needs for practicality and fun.”
In spring 2010 collections the top Pantone colors are turquoise, violet, coral, bright navy, rising sun yellow, and tangy t omato red. There were also thoughtful, cautious neutrals in pink champagne, dried herb green, eucalyptus gray, and warm beige. Most pervasive, however, was black and white in fresh looks updated by interesting patterns, unique color blocks, and transparent layering.
Pops of Gems
Accessories, especially jewelry, are great for infusing bright colors or classic neutrals into a wardrobe. Within the popular color schemes of the season, certain gem families like quartz, beryl, garnet, and tourmaline offer many options in shades and prices. Sapphires and diamonds also encompass a range of fancy colors. Other notables include moonstone, jade, labradorite, and pearls.
A sea change in lifestyles and attitudes has evolved, as a result of the economic meltdown, to where conspicuous consumption is no longer cool, cites Nancy Leach, senior consultant gem creative for Swarovski, Austrian crystal and gemstone manufacturer. “There's a new creative dynamism rooted in meaning and value,” she says, “with jewelry designs becoming more intellectual, nostalgic, personal, and mysterious.” Gems remain a central messenger of emotions.
Look for more jewelry to incorporate rugged textured gold, pearlescence, and layers of transparency; raw crystals, steely minerals like marcasite and hematite, and oxidized or patina metals. Leach cites major design directions for 2010:
Jewelry on the runways focused on the neck and wrist. The vibe was eclectic, a collage style inspiring customization. Necklaces were either big statement pieces bib style, layers of different pieces of various lengths, or one long necklace dangling a big medallion, amulet or symbol. In bracelets, bangles ruled in various widths, types and colors stacked or armor like cuffs ala Wonder Woman .
Tracking trends at the shows for the Jewelry Information Center, spokesperson Helena Krodel, cites elongated shapes and greater fluidity in design elements like tassels. She also sees chandelier earrings back, especially in teardrop shapes, fueled by the popularity of single shoulder styles. Big gem rings still rock, but designs are favoring a single carved gem center or a cluster of color.
Speaking to jewelry's value as a tool of customization, there are more fashion designers pushing their own jewelry lines. Vera Wang added a decorative flourish the languid layers of her feminine sports luxe looks intricate cobweb necklaces from her own collection. Twinkle by Wenlan accessorized with tangled and knotted chains of aluminum and brass in gold, silver and black colors, accentuated with punches of colorful, geometric shaped glass from its own collection, which includes both costume and fine.
Mixing fashion and fine, Diane von Furstenberg adorned her eclectic, "Queen of the Desert" traveler-inspired models in armfuls of rainbow-beaded and woven bangles made by African women artisans. But she also integrated designs from her continually expanding fine jewelry collection produced by the Brazilian-based jeweler, H.Stern including her long “Icon: necklaces in 18k gold, signature “Sutra” link bracelets in gold and silver, and “Power Rings” in rock crystal and gold.
Another fine-fashion fusion—Badgley Mischka teamed up with jewelry makers Linda and Kim Renk of the couture costume line Sequin in New York, and fine jewelry manufacturer Zalemark of Sherman Oaks, California on a range of designs for the brand. Looks from the sisters Renk feature rock crystal, turquoise and wood; freshwater pearls and handmade bullion beads from India; and big gems, glass, and hematite and gold in 1940s Italian-inspired designs. While Zalemark created couture fine jewels in retro Hollywood styles with black and white diamonds and gems like sapphire, pink tourmaline, and quartz in 18k gold.
Using only fine jewels were designers Kati Stern for Venexiana, Carman Marc Valvo, and Sergio Guadarrama for Celestino. Stern worked with favorite jeweler, Hammerman Bros. of New York, selecting bold but classic necklaces, bracelets and earrings in gold and platinum, diamonds and gems to accent her graceful cocktail dresses. Valvo partnered with the World Gold Council to adorn his urban jungle theme in jewelry focused on unique colors of gold, lots of bangles, layers of chains, oversized hoops, and gem drop earrings from various designers. And, Guadarrama, decorated his satin and boucle pants, shorts and tops with rare black coral and diamond jewelry by Passman Galleries.