There are still plenty of designers who rely on themes to make a statement they hope will become a big trend. Whereas consumers used to respond to a heavy-handed head-to-toe look, today’s fashion-savvy woman knows better.Still, some designers go for a strong trend statement that often works. Ralph Lauren is one. His familiar rugged Western theme resurfaced with a newly feminine air. Fringe was worked on suede jackets and down the sides of trousers, lace insets on tiny floral prints, dropped-waist ruffled sheer gowns were light and longhorn decorated mega-buckles on leather belts added a rodeo vibe.Anna Sui hit the heartland trail with pretty prairie dresses, ponchos, crochet cardigans, aprons, eyelet, antique lace and suede plus sparkling crinkle chiffon ’20s frocks that recalled the flapper look.
Tommy Hilfiger celebrated his 25 years in the business, this time by showing a country club prep classics with a twist (a bra top teamed with a short tennis skirt and plaid blazer) collection.Designer fascination with Asia produced Korean- and Japanese-influenced collections from Carolina Herrera, Vera Wang and Alberta Ferretti. Obi sashes, kimono sleeves, origami folds and authentic hats from the Far East were among the trendy details.Although designers are pushing for legislation to protect them from design piracy, many of them seemed to be committing identity theft. Bianca Jagger’s ’70s Studio 54 image stalked the runway at Marc Jacobs. Ralph Lauren’s breezy long dresses could have been meant for Stevie Nicks. And Janis Joplin’s macramé, crochet and patchwork reappeared atVivienne Tam, while her floppy brimmed hats topped the models at Tracy Reese.
Like spring’s main fashion moods, color, too, is divided into two different directions. Black is no longer the beginning and the end-all of fashion. Most important and significant is a restful, clean palette based on chalky neutrals and pristine white. Ivory, cream, eggshell, pale gray and milky tones are the most popular. Not only was Donna Karan’s entire collection the color of sand, but sand also covered her runway.