Trend Watch: Head-to-Toe Designer Looks

Is there a dearth of inspiration at certain premiere American fashion magazines these days? After years if not decades of preaching that true style combines high price and low, designer and mass market, for fall 2009 the magazines are replete with a new aesthetic, or rather, the many competing aesthetics of the designers they choose to highlight.


While I appreciate a desire to give readers a peek at the pure genius of individual designers, I cannot recall a season where a demonstration of how to utilize or to combine designer looks to create an individual fashion statement has been so obvious in its absence. Perhaps Vogue magazine identifies the dilemma: “How we want to dress is under microscopic scrutiny again.”


The reason for this draconian situation, according to Vogue:


“With less money around to blur and blunt our choices, the motivations that make fashion worthwhile have jumped sharply into focus: the satisfactions of logic on the one hand; delight on the other. Both approaches require exceptional clothes; simply put, nothing without the wow factor is going to work.”


And thus, having set its own bar so high, we see in the July 2009 issue of Vogue magazine, that the magazine dutifully shows the following ensemble credits:


  • From Louis Vuitton: top, skirt, leggings, necklace, handbag and shoes.
  • From Lanvin: blazer, skirt, necklace, gloves, belt and shoes.
  • From Balenciaga: jacket, top, pants, bracelets and shoes.
  • From Marc Jacobs: coat, top, skirt (mentioned on credits page), scarf, necklace and shoes.

And so on. These are the entire ensembles as pictured in the magazine. Not a single element, except for Wolford tights shown with the Marc Jacobs ensemble, derives from any source other than the designer label. Notice this is true of the jewelry as well as the garments and other accessories. One might assume that many of these photo shoots were also perfumed with the designers’ signature fragrances.


And it’s not just Vogue. Here are several of the ensemble credits from the July 2009 issue of Harper’s Bazaar:


  • From Dolce & Gabbana: dress with belt, headband, ring, tights and shoes.
  • From Lanvin: dress, “hairpiece,” necklace, handbag, gloves and shoes.
  • From Vera Wang: top, skirt, earrings and belt.
  • From Dior: dress, earrings, bracelets and shoes.
  • From Bottega Veneta: coat, dress, handbag, bracelets and ring (in this photo, the stylist added a belt credited to Chloe by Hannah MacGibbon).
  • From Michael Kors: coat, dress, necklace, belt and shoes.
  • From Versace: coat with belt, top, skirt, handbag and shoes (no jewelry, although Versace does sell jewelry).
  • From Gucci: dress, handbag, bracelets, belt and boots.
  • From Chanel: jacket, pants, hat, rings, brooch and belt.                                           

Oddly, Bazaar quotes designer Alber Elbaz (who designs for Lanvin) as saying, “I wanted to bring back the pleasure of shopping. It’s a dying art.” When shopping means going to a designer’s atelier or boutique and purchasing an entire outfit head to toe, is that a pleasure? It certainly makes easier the task of getting dressed so as to withstand microscopic scrutiny. And one would hope that someone about to drop thousands of dollars on a look will be well-tended at the designer’s establishment. But I’m hard-pressed to think of that experience as “shopping” in the classic sense of hunting for just the perfect treasure to complete a look, and I doubt it’s much of a pleasure when the credit card statement arrives.


What is worth studying (by consumers and jewelry retailers alike) is how some of the designers have repeated visual elements of the clothing in the jewelry created to adorn the looks. Notice, for example:



  • Nicolas Ghesquiere for Balenciaga, as seen in Vogue, adorns the sari-inspired draped evening tuxedo with a pair of bracelets (one gold, one “silver”) that repeat the soft, curved lines of the draping 


  • Dolce & Gabbana adorns a dress covered with rectangular folds of ribbon with a similar sized rectangular ring that appears to be a timepiece (in an ensemble ironically labeled “Timeless Texture” by Bazaar).


  • Bottega Veneta, as seen in Bazaar, puts texture with texture, adorning a densely fluffy coat with a pair of matching hammered metal bangle bracelets, one wide, one narrow.

These ideas and the many others represented by the designers’ choices of jewelry are helpful for those who want to tap into trends but also like to mix things up in their own creative way. 


I expect that the new autumn trends will sort themselves out and the editorial urge to mix things up will re-emerge in upcoming issues of the magazines after the summer holiday. I look forward to seeing how the fall fashion season progresses and the “wow factor” evolves.

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