Pushing the luxury envelope

Spring fashion trends are leaning more toward Flashdance deconstruction than Duchess-of-York tailoring. The affluent luxury looks of fall and winter are still strong, but with an irreverence that encourages women to push limits, experiment with new ideas, and embrace the uncertainty of the millennium into which we so recently teetered. Among fashion’s battle cries for spring: Dare to be masculine, dare to be feminine, dare to go shorter, dare to show off and, especially, dare to accessorize.

Back to the future. Michael J. Fox hit 2015 in the film Back to the Future II, but his contemporaries have landed in 2001. If winter clothes began to hint at the ’80s, spring and summer are screaming it. Man tailoring and military styling of a magnitude not seen since the ’80s are in full force for spring. The khakis that have been all the rage in stores like Old Navy and Gap are grown up and sophisticated, according to designer interpretations. Look for belted safari jackets, olive drab front-pocket shirts and ties for women, and perhaps even a touch of camouflage as seen at Comme des Garcons and Christian Dior. Spring trends include not only androgyny and military themes but also rebellious off-the-shoulder looks à la Flashdance‘s Jennifer Beals, layers of jewelry circa early Madonna, and strong shoulders and thigh-baring miniskirts of the Dynasty era.

It’s been said that the ’80s were characterized by ‘anything goes.’ According to designers, the ’00s may be a decade of ‘everything goes,’ from army uniforms to piles of feminine ruffles, from graphic black-and-white to blinding displays of gold, from siren to sweetheart.

A 1980’s rebirth is good news for accessories. Belts, bags, shoes, and, of course, jewelry, were at times more powerful on the runways than the clothes were. Belts range from thin chains to hip-slung o-rings. Shoes come with straps, zippers, ties, and two-tone leather. At Chanel, models reminded the fashion world that a woman can never wear enough pearls. Long strands-draped, wrapped, and even knotted-were strong and most likely will be reinterpreted in either opera length strands or long pendants in fine jewelry.

Dare to bare. Among fashion’s challenges to women this season is the dare to show a little skin. Last year, midriffs saw the summer sun. This year, however, belly chains are relegated to storage. Thigh-revealing miniskirts and shoulder-baring designs are prominent. Peasant-style shirts are pushed off the shoulder for a sexier look, and the style turns sophisticated with more sleek lines and draping fabrics. In a time of economic, political, and technological uncertainty, silhouettes are going off-kilter. The era of spaghetti straps, meanwhile, is giving way to an asymmetrical one-shouldered look in halter-type shirts and dresses. Deconstructionism is tearing out necklines and pushing them off one shoulder for a look that’s reminiscent of legwarmers and breakdancing.

Along with the asymmetrical looks, flowing and draping are key silhouettes. Bloused tops are back in a big way, often with dropped waistlines. Designers not only allowed for more billowy lines but also wrapped the flowing fabrics around the body for styles that ranged from kimono-esque jackets to wrap dresses. Similarly, a feminine movement was born of designers’ ruching, shirring, and otherwise ruffling things up.

What this means for accessories is an evolution toward bolder, more body-conscious jewelry. Look for sleek lines and a modern tone in jewelry for 2001. Bracelets will be a strong category among the fashion-forward, with cuff bracelets and bangle bracelets (another ’80s favorite) in demand. Necklaces will be piled and exaggeratedly draped-interpreting the ‘piles of pearls’ look-or shorter, often nestling in the hollow of the throat to complement those asymmetrical clothing lines.

Hoops show no sign of fading, but watch for more-modern chandeliers and drops that add to the sex appeal of clothes for spring and summer.

Neutrals and earth tones are important, with camel, olive, and off-white leading the pack. Black was noticeably absent, unless accompanied by bright white for a dramatic effect. Blue-from dusty to bright-and red were the colors of choice. In the jewelry color category, which has been heating up for the past several seasons, watch for muted or deep shades of reds, blues, greens, and oranges, rather than bright stones, to complement the understated colors chosen for clothing.