New York Fashion Week introduces new, innovative trends while looking to past

With Boston Fashion Week getting into gear this week, it’s time to preview what kinds of trends came out earlier this month at New York’s Mercedes−Benz Fashion Week (NYFW). The spring/summer 2011 collections of world−famous designers like Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors shook up the fashion world by rejecting the sartorial status quo of ’80s neon and spandex for a mix of ’70s disco and ’90s minimalism.

Christopher Muther, style reporter and expert for the Boston.com blog Stylephile and the Style section of the Boston Globe, attended NYFW and said that this year’s shows were especially groundbreaking.

“Everyone was looking back a bit, it seemed,” Muther told the Daily. “Interestingly enough, the ’80s that we’ve been seeing disappeared. Thankfully, there were no more harem pants; the jumpsuits were gone, too.”

Those following the ’70s trend seemed to be obsessed with the idea of remaking the disco era, right down to the big hair, bright makeup, bold sunglasses and wide−brimmed hats. And there seems to have been a consensus, once again, that high−waisted, ultra−wide−leg jeans are back in. Muther emphasized that this trend was everywhere, from powerhouse Marc Jacobs to Tracy Reese’s contemporary, Anthropologie designs.

In homage to the ’90s, designers opened up their forms with long, flowing dresses and kept most of their pieces in a haze of neutral colors like black, white, grey, beige and taupe. Muther described these designs as “soothing” and felt that all extraneous patterns and prints were no longer present in many normally bright designers’ repertoires. Nude and white floor−length dresses in a simple, sack−like shape dominated these runway shows.

“The first thing I thought of when I saw Marc Jacobs’s spring collection was Jodie Foster in ‘Taxi Driver’ (1976),” Muther said. “A lot of the ’90s pieces, on the other hand, looked like something straight out of Calvin Klein when he was at his peak … with form a lot looser, a lot simpler.”

Though the pack was evenly divided between designers following a ’70s mix of disco and bohemian and those leaning more toward the neutral palette of the ’90s, most major names fell into one of the two categories.

Muther was baffled, yet pleased, about both of these developments in the fashion world — as well as the fact that nearly all of the designers at NYFW managed to subscribe to one of the two trends.

“I always like to think that fashion week is more about a creative push than a commercial one. I’m always amazed at how everyone ends up in the same place,” Muther said. “We [journalists] think it’s because there are certain cultural references that will pop up that all designers will absorb, and it somehow translates into everyone’s work.”

New designers, however, like Boston−based Felicia Verry−Mota, who will display her work at Boston Fashion Week this Thursday, try to avoid being influenced by new trends that will detract from the creativity of their work.

“I try not to look at that many magazines while I’m working on my collection because I don’t want to rip off the amazing designs I see,” Verry−Mota told the Daily. “Of course, on the other hand, trends are always there, and as a designer, you’re always looking.”

Verry−Mota doesn’t figure herself above incorporating trends into her work; she just doesn’t want her work to copy whatever comes directly off of the New York runways.

“This year I was inspired by the military trend … I will also be taking advantage of the hot, bright colors I saw coming out of the fall fashion shows,” she said. “I’m always looking for twists, ways to keep things innovative.”

Most importantly, Verry−Mota sees herself as a consumer of fashion, and the marketplace is where the most important trends prevail — ones she can choose to buy into or avoid.

“When I’m dressing and styling my own wardrobe, I try to stay away from trends … like those awful gladiator sandals,” she said, laughing. “The thing about trends is that they’re very easy. You can go into someplace like H&M, and they’re there; they’re everywhere.”

According to some, though, high fashion does not dictate what articles are sold in stores as much as it dictates how one uses clothing to create styles.

“You can use clothes you already have or buy similar trends at any store, not necessarily from a designer store. What is important is to know how to combine and mix your clothes to keep up with the current fashion,” sophomore Nina Davari, a fashion enthusiast, said.

Muther suggested that fashion recycles itself in 20−year periods. As new designers rise to prominence, they become nostalgic for the time of fashion when they were growing up and thus reintroduce the world to a certain trend.

Not that Muther believes the general public will always be receptive to such drastic shifts.

“Within the next couple of years, the ‘jeggings’ and skinny jeans we’ve all become so used to will start to loosen up and go wider. People get into a comfort zone when it comes to jeans and blouses, and it takes them a little while to move out of it,” he said. “It will be a good year or so before a lot of [these runway trends] even start to show up.”


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