Designers put contemporary twists on classic looks

CorrespondentSeptember 11, 2013 

How many ways can you put a contemporary twist on a classic – and what does contemporary even mean in 2014?

Those questions were the underlying themes running through the Spring 2014 collections during Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week. The New York collections, which unofficially began as early as Sept. 3 and will, for the most part, end Thursday night, were presented at the main Fashion Week tents at Lincoln Center, as well as at event spaces and hotels around New York City.

Of course, the push to define contemporary in fashion has always been present. But retro has always been the fashion world’s default as past eras are brought back for inspiration. While nods to the past will always be a part of fashion, there’s a real push now to move fashion forward and explore what “contemporary” means in the 21st century.

Wearable fashion

For spring 2014, many designers continued to explore with nontraditional materials like silicone and neoprene. Others showed new takes on summer staples like eyelet and lace. In other cases, it was all about tweaking traditional basics like shift dresses. And many designers’ collections showed a rethinking of standard “no-no’s” like mixing patterns and blending masculine and feminine elements.

“This season I’m seeing a lot of everyday, wearable fashion but with creative touches,” said Charlotte-based stylist Erica Hanks, who was in New York attending the shows.

Hanks said fashion fans will need to assess which trends are best for their bodies. For example, toned abs are a must for one to wear the crop tops seen this summer and, based on the New York shows, returning for next year. But there are other trends fashion lovers may want to invest in.

“I would say first, to study the trends so you know what you’re looking for. You don’t necessarily have to purchase every trend,” she said. “I think next spring will be an opportunity to get some great basics. We saw a lot of designers doing these pieces – a great blazer, a statement dress for evening, pant suits, which are going to be big.

“There are a lot of options being shown that I think people will like and find they can wear.”

Swingy dresses, boxier shapes

So what are some of the overall trends?

Overall, fashion fans will find plenty of swingy dresses and skirts that hit the knee or slightly lower. In addition to the aforementioned crop tops, many designers presented fresh takes on the classic white shirt, oftentimes with a boxier, roomy shape. Skinny pants vied with slouchy pants and trousers for dominance. And the little white dress continued to dazzle, promising plenty of options for those attending the ever-popular summer white parties.

Next spring and summer also promises to be the season of the peekaboo. On almost every runway, abs flashed from loose-fitting crop tops; shoulders and arms teased the eye through sheer fabrics on tops and dresses; sheer panels, strips and lace offered glimpses of skin as well.

Vibrant colors and patterns

And while the color palette promises plenty of black and white, there will also be generous dollops of red, orange, green and blue in solids and vibrant patterns. Look for plenty of psychedelic swirls in black and white and combinations of blue and black, too.

For evening (and, in some cases, for daywear), iridescent finishes will glisten along with plenty of liquid gold and lightning-like dashes of silver.

Raleigh Denim branches out

Local favorite Raleigh Denim Workshop, now commonly known simply as Raleigh, was one of the many labels making a splash during New York Fashion Week. For Spring 2014, husband and wife duo Viktor and Sarah Lytvinenko continued to develop the women’s collection the brand first began showing two years ago.

“We’ve really been working hard to develop the women’s line,” Victor Lytvinenko said during the Raleigh presentation on Sept. 3. “We’ll always do denim and have the menswear. But we’ve really been having a lot of fun with the women’s (pieces). That’s been a big area of growth for us.”

The Raleigh collection in general showed a confident sense of design and proportion. Their love of giving classics a twist could be seen this season in a pickled cherry blossom print that was seen in several pieces, including a silk T-shirt and a smart trench coat in organza and burlap. For denim, Raleigh presented several new washes, as well as some interesting design twists, such as a cream-colored refined canvas pant, a women’s skinny jean with motorbike rider detailing at the knees and a jean in a broken twill.

The best of the rest

Other standout collections and pieces included winning floral mash-ups from Tracy Reese and Nicole Miller, romantic pastel lace concoctions from Tadashi Shoji, laminated eyelets from Peter Som, perforated and laser cutout pieces from Elie Tahari, smart and shiny hipster wear from Marc by Marc Jacobs including pieces in an iridescent watermelon leather, Hollywood red carpet perfection from Reem Acra, and, in a surprise, classic prepster khaki pieces and oxford shirts from Michael Kors.

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