Big Earrings, Light Mood at Spring 2016 New York Fashion Week

Early in the season, one show had all the buzz: Givenchy. Not only was Riccardo Tisci bringing his runway from Paris to New York to mark his 10-year anniversary at the house, but he was also opening it to the public? And enlisting pal Marina Abramovi?

In a city forever upping the ante on the experiential fashion show—bands! drones! pole dancers!—Tisci delivered a beautiful meditation on gentility. In the background, Abramovi?’s performance artists re-created mundane actions (embracing, climbing ladders) in slo-mo, while the message on the runway circled around a singular premise: the meeting of the masculine and feminine, seen through a boudoir lens. Tailoring came softly cut, like robes, and slipdresses and lingerie lace abounded. That vibe—simple, serene, a bit undone—would continue throughout the New York shows.   

Lighten Up

Designers as diverse as Public School, Thakoon, and Adam Lippes all tapped into that bedroom déshabillé while lace emerged as a frontrunner fabric for the season. By the collections’ end, that refrain gave way to a ’90s story, equal parts minimalist and nouveau grunge. With jewelry, that can go two ways: a point of contrast with tough-chic designs (chain-link collars at Monse, oxidized metal pendant earrings at Narciso Rodriguez) or what Ali Galgano, CEO and founder of Charm & Chain, calls “barely-there jewelry”—i.e., wispy body chains and “delicate second-skin necklaces that a woman rarely removes.” 

A perfect example: the four closing looks at Calvin Klein, which featured gorgeously languid white slip dresses accented with the barest of body chains (and styled with sneakers for that shot of grunge). 

This easing of mood and silhouette also leads to a larger jewelry theme: It’s about pieces that are on the less-precious, but still bold, side. Consider the sculptural earrings at Proenza Schouler or Rosie Assoulin (the latter designed by Lee Angel’s Roxanne Assoulin, aka her mother-in-law). Or the oversized geometric cuffs seen at Ralph Lauren, Jeremy Scott, and Badgley Mischka. Materials—think metals with a soupçon of Lucite—matter. 

Pearls, meanwhile, are still going strong, getting a boost this spring as added ornamentation on ready-to-wear, like the exquisite mother-of-pearl embroidery at Altuzarra. In bijoux, designers gave them a high-low twist, pairing that ladylike classic with edgier fare—for example, the pearl-dotted chain-link collars at Creatures of the Wind. 

Bohemia Revisited

Fear not, maximalists: There’s plenty for you too. That relaxed mood unfolded in a secondary overarching trend that makes for a nice counterpoint to the ’90s nods: bohemia, with its wonderful riot of color, pattern, and texture. Patchwork, crochet, macramé, dense embroideries, fringe, pleats, broderie anglaise…the collections served them in heavy doses, sometimes simultaneously, to various effect. 

Indeed, the bohemian babe arrived in ’70s style (Diane von Furstenberg), as a glam-rock free spirit (Rodarte), and with plenty of Spanish and Mexican wanderlust (Oscar de la Renta, Alice and Olivia, Naeem Khan). 

“This bohemian sensibility is translating into jewelry in a number of ways,” says Galgano, citing the use of wood, plus fringe—“both true fringe and tassels. We’re noting a resurgence of Southwestern inspiration in jewelry: silver, turquoise, beads, and squash blossom motifs.” Add charms (Coach), barrettes and hair jewelry (Zimmermann, Rodarte), and even kandi necklaces (Baja East) to the list. 

There’s yet another side to this new bohemian, who’s also conversant in all things crafty: the island girl, who popped up, perhaps most exuberantly, at Tommy Hilfiger and Anna Sui. The design cues here: beading, color, and lots of that ever-present spring trend—florals. 

Anna Sui in bloom  

Put an Earring on It

As for the major statement style of the season, it’s the long, sweeping earring. It was everywhere, often blended with the aforementioned trends—a modern take on florals at Carolina Herrera, doorknocker tassels at Marissa Webb—and melding nicely with the prevalent off-the-shoulder and cold-shoulder silhouettes. And while there was the occasional gemstone opulence (Peter Copping is continuing the de la Renta legacy well), Galgano adds that, even among these audacious earring showstoppers, “the most noticeable similarity is their avoidance of crystal as the primary embellishment. Instead, designers are utilizing a variety of mediums—from thread to matte paint, oftentimes mixed and matched—to give the effect of statement without the sparkle.” 

(Top image: Yannis Vlamos/Vogue, Monica Feudi/Vogue, Gianni Pucci/Vogue. Sui: Gianni Pucci/Vogue.)

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