IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

What you'll wear this year

This story was first published in The Straits Times on Jan 3, 2014

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BRUSHSTROKE PALETTE

What: Designers went to art class this season, with a resulting array of joyously vivid brushstroke-inspired prints.

The runway at designer Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel show (photo 1) was a riot of rainbow-hued prints in several looks. The models’ wigs looked fluttery, too, like the ends of a paintbrush, and some even walked out holding real brushes and canvasses.

Even at minimalist Celine (photo 2), designer Phoebe Philo sent out art-canvas prints: swirls of black, blue and red, or dabs of green and yellow.

How: To avoid looking too Rainbow Brite 1980s, make sure the silhouette stays sleek and current. So instead of boxy or oversized, stick to streamlined.

While the brave can experiment with head-to-toe print, which can look very fashionable if put together with purpose, the rest of us could pair brushstroke print clothing with more casual items such as jeans and flat sandals for a fun, but not too overpowering look.


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CALL OF THE WILD

What: Some high-flying designers came back down to earth for the spring/summer 2014 season, taking inspiration from the wilderness.

Designer Phillip Lim of 3.1 Phillip Lim was a “rock” star of note, with prints evocative of geology, such as his geode-inspired embroidery on organza (photo 1).

Textured brown leather and spidery lace details were on full display at Tom Ford (photo 2), where the palette was mostly subdued hues of black, brown and white.

How: The devil is in the details with the wilderness-inspired trend. The trick is to look for interesting accents – whether they be new textures or subtle prints – to jazz up a look that, at first glance, looks unassuming.

Pick items with elements that recall a bleak landscape, whether it is the grey-blue hue of a brackish stream or the chiselled prints of a flinty rock formation.

Go for softer materials and pair the look with more feminine hair and make-up styles to lessen the severity and heaviness of the look.


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PREPPY WITH A TWIST

What: The classic white shirt – the backbone of many a prepster’s wardrobe – got an update from fashion’s cool kids for the spring/summer 2014 season.

Designer Joseph Altuzarra elevated the basic with silk shirts, emblazoned with thin stripes and colour-blocked cuffs, while his contemporary, designer Alexander Wang (photo 1), sexed up the Wall Street vibe with cropped shirts at his eponymous label.

Playing with volume, Bottega Veneta’s (photo 2) designer Tomas Maier used copper thread-infused cotton to sculpt white shirts. Shirtdresses at Tod’s too, got the textural treatment by designer Alessandra Facchinetti and showcased a laser-cut eyelet pattern.

How: The simplicity of the white shirt lends itself well to interesting details, as shown by these designers.

A neutral base, the white shirt can be worn with a colourful mini or printed pants for those who prefer a bit more pizzazz. For Scandi-chic, combine it with an equally neutral but elegant pair of modern pants.

The important thing to keep in mind for this trend is silhouette. Should the twist on the shirt be a voluminous shape, keep the bottom slim for a more flattering overall look. If the shirt is cropped, pair with a high-waisted skirt.


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PASTEL PARTY

What: London Fashion Week was like a box of macarons. Lady-like pastel hues sprang up all over runways.

At Burberry Prorsum, designer Christopher Bailey combined pastels – dusky pink, mint green and pale yellow – and sheer materials with pencil skirts, shirts and jackets.

Over at Peter Pilotto (photo 1), the designers Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos took a whimsical approach by incorporating pastel greens and blues with the brand’s signature prints onto sculpted skirts and boxy shirts.

At Temperley London (photo 2), models sauntered down in Alice Temperley’s pastel gowns that looked fit for a princess.

How: You may run the risk of looking like a tween if your pastel pieces are too poufy. Go for streamlined silhouettes, such as pencil skirts, and a structured bag to give off a more adult-like vibe.

If you want to avoid looking like an Easter egg, just add one darker coloured item, such as a grey cardigan or tan-coloured shoes, to balance out the look.


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PRETTY PLEATS

What: Pleats have not made much of an appearance on runways in the last few seasons, but they were out in full force at the spring/summer shows.

Alber Elbaz’s metallic pleated dresses at Lanvin (photo 1) had such a futuristic twist there was no mistaking pleats for being dated.

Chloe’s Clare Waight Keller sent accordion pleated dresses out on the runway. Among the most eye-catching pieces was a dress with a deep V neck (photo 2).

How: Pleated pieces unfortunately have a reputation for being frumpy. Keep pleated dresses or skirts to above or around your knees and avoid those with floral designs.

Observe how the pleats lie on your body. They should not part too much from one another as this will make you look bigger than you actually are.


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FASHION IN MOTION

What: Some of the most beautiful and fashionable pieces on the spring 2014 runways literally came to life as they were being paraded.

Inspired by movement and kinetics, designer Carolina Herrera sent out pieces layered with organza printed in contrasting patterns. With the models’ every move, the dresses seemed to have a life of their own as the patterns morphed and undulated.

At Calvin Klein (photos 1 & 2), clean, excess strips of fabric at the seam of the minimalist skirts and dresses remind one of Umberto Boccioni’s sculptures that depict speed and energy. Its creative director Francisco Costa also delivered swingy mesh dresses and monochromatic fringed and tassled numbers.

How: Keep the focus on the patterns or fringe. Stay away from accessories of any kind or you will look fussy, and bright colours that can turn a stylish swingy piece into a ridiculous costume.

Pare down the drama of the pieces with simple silhouettes, such as that of a well-cut white shirt, a tailored black jacket or a simple colour-blocked sandal.


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DARK BOUQUETS

What: Spring/summer 2014 shows were all about gender-bending florals for menswear. Tropical florals – think less chiquita banana and more Gauguin – dominated, with blooms in muted, sophisticated hues.

Dark florals were present on Frida Giannini’s Gucci (photo 1) runway, against backgrounds of earth tones, such as moss green, dark grey and rust red.

Flowers were sprouting at Prada’s (photo 2) menswear show too. Tropical prints, from large leaves to tiny buds, peeked out from under blazers and beyond cuffs in rich shades for a sophisticated new take on florals for men.

How: Printed T-shirts and shirts go great under a smart blazer or jacket with denim or chinos.

For those who are more hesitant, try starting off with floral accessories, such as scarves, ties of pocket squares.

The linings of bags and wallets also provide opportunities to ride the floral trend in a subtle way.


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TRIBAL CHIC

What: Subtle nods to the warrior woman motif were apparent in the details of various shows, but it was less “I am woman, hear me roar” and more mature allusions to the aesthetic.

At Givenchy (photos 1 & 2), designer Riccardo Tisci showcased elegant draping inspired by Africa on models striding out in flat sandals. Some of the looks featured straps tied like harnesses to add to the tribal chic.

Draping was present over at designer Peter Dundas’ print-tastic Emilio Pucci show too, with lots of skirts and pants making use of the flattering technique. Nods to the tribal look came also in the form of small touches, such as the fringe detail on tops.

How: The tribal trend is in danger of looking like a cliche or a costume if not done in a modern way. Definitely avoid wearing head to toe for this look.

Try testing out the trend by focusing on accents, such as straps or a fringe on a sleeve.

Keep hair and make-up fresh, modern and clean, so the look does not accidentally veer into grunge or bohemian territory.

This story was first published in The Straits Times on Jan 3, 2014

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