Fall 2013 Fashion Trends Give Women What They Want: A Little Bit of Everything

Black is back! So is white, army green, and…plaid? Here’s our guide to the decade-hopping ­seasonal styles and the various ­baubles they’ll require.

Every Federico Fellini film seems to come with its own clutch of female archetypes. The astringent wives with their high collars and glasses. The buxom and baring women. The couture-clad society ladies. The mods, mothers, ingenues, nuns. It’s never about one woman; there’s always a whole army of them vying for your attention from the opening scene to the end credits.

In many ways, the fall 2013 collections felt like a Fellini film. Instead of the usual overriding era that takes hold of the runway zeitgeist—say, the ’70s or the ’30s by way of the ’70s—this season ping-ponged between the decades. We got a whiff of the ’40s from Carolina Herrera, Dsquared2, and Bottega Veneta, while the ’80s popped up everywhere from Altuzarra to Anthony Vaccarello. Mugler’s Nicola Formichetti and Anna Sui served up the ’60s; DKNY and Rodarte gave us the ’90s spirit, and there were ’50s references left and right, among them at Rochas, Lanvin, and Jonathan Saunders. Miu Miu and ­Valentino even dialed it back to other centuries, riffing off, respectively, the Edwardian age and the ol’ 1600s. (Estate jewelry dealers, the iron is hot.) 

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On the fringe: monster tassels at Just Cavalli in Milan

Even the colors were an eclectic hodgepodge. Black and white were big. So were army greens (piggybacking off the military trend that came out of New York), grays, and various shades of brown-beige-buff. And the metallics. And the vibrant jolts of saturated color. And the pale pinks and baby blues. And that holdover from last fall, deep oxblood. We saw minimalist refrains, some maximalist reveries (hello, Tom Ford!), menswear motifs, tough-chic punk, covered-up conservative gals, creepy-crawlies (yes, there’s a bug trend), and a boudoir babe or two—basically a little bit of everything. You could almost picture that final scene in Fellini’s , in which he plays ringmaster as his myriad characters parade around him.

18k gold earrings with rubies, rubellites, and diamonds; $27,650; Goldesign, Belo Horizonte, Brazil; 55-31-3271-2636; goldesignjoias.com.br

For trend watchers, it was dizzying and not exactly the easiest season to parse. “When I started going through my notes,” says Jewelers of America’s Amanda Gizzi, “it was like, okay, there’s this, now there’s that, and this.… What’s happening here?! The trends were all over the board, depending on the city.”

But a funny thing happened at the Lanvin show, as the lights went down and the guys bearing champagne and popcorn treats stepped to the sides. Alber Elbaz sent out a line that was deliberate in its haphazardness, beautifully so. In that handful of minutes, he swung from decade to decade, style to style, from simple LBDs without a lick of bijoux, to printed separates practically dripping with them, to kicky fit-and-flares and cool leather trenches to—well, you get the picture. There was a toss-out-all-the-fashion-rules freedom to the collection, not to mention plenty of telling pendant necklaces that spelled out words like Love, Help, and You.

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In Paris, Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci gave gypsy a grunge twist.

That last one pretty much sums up the collections. Fall 2013 was all about you…and you and you. The “you” being the woman who doesn’t live a one-track life and whose moods and needs eternally shift. This season was a democratic reply to what women want—and that’s a multifaceted thing.

In fact, the different stories on the runway were mostly rooted in addressing how real women dress. Last fall’s uber-ladylike trend morphed into a more mature, womanly sort best exemplified by the raw elegance seen at Prada. This was fashion rendered personal, emotional, and self-assured, swapping that popular calling card of overt sexuality for subtle, grown-up sensuality. “We’re seeing a shift away from this intense focus on the hot young girl to people with authority and experience—appreciating a woman,” says Roseanne Morrison, fashion director of The Doneger Group.

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Gold chandelier earrings softened the street-chic style on display at 3.1 Phillip Lim in New York City.

Even fall’s street and menswear trends were deftly served with a more womanly sensibility. Two cases in point: Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci, who fused ­punk-grunge with gypsy romanticism; and Dries Van Noten, who, instead of the conventional push and pull of masculine and feminine, expertly married the two.

In the same vein, comfortable became a runway buzzword. Forget the tricked-out fashions and clothes designed for street-style vamping or making a visual impact on digital screens. The runways got cozy—even pj-cozy à la Marc Jacobs—with oversized shapes and roomy, forgiving silhouettes. Much of fall flaunted a quieter, more intimate mode, variously described as serene, understated, simple, sober, restrained, and at ease. The umbrella term here? Wearable. Fall was less about dictating and more about delivering what women want.

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Layers of bold chain-link necklaces added intrigue to Bottega Veneta’s ’40s-tinged show in Milan.

“The good news for the jewelry industry,” says Gizzi, “is that you could associate yourself with everything. There was a lot of familiarity. And no matter the trend, because there are a lot, there’s a piece of ­jewelry to go with it.”

Here, our guide to navigating the major stops on that busy terrain.


As Morrison proclaims, “black is back.” But in an interesting turn, the trend spoke to both graphic blacks and whites, as seen at Proenza Schouler and Viktor & Rolf, as well as an overarching broody mood that the fashion director says evokes a Game of Thrones vibe. Here, jewelry designers can get ­creative with the edgy, warrior motif, like Rodarte’s Kate and Laura Mulleavy did with the barbed-wire baubles for their tie-dyed, Santa Cruz, ­Calif.–inspired ­rendezvous. Meanwhile, the focus on camouflage colors—those olives and browns at Haider Ackermann and the military-tinged Richard Chai Love show—will lend themselves to more burnished metals. “We’re not seeing bright gold anymore,” Morrison adds. “Everything is toned down.”

18k rose gold necklace with red tourmaline leaf and diamonds; $34,190; Lucifer Vir Honestus, Milan; 39-02-2900-4270; lucifer-vir-honestus.com

Gemstones are where the industry can really pop. “Your basic grays, blacks, and browns will allow for more color to come into play,” explains Gizzi, who adds that, conveniently enough, colored gemstones are also the answer for when the sartorial palette turns bright. “Color-block your jewelry to match the clothing of the season,” she advises.


One of the major motifs of the season was plaid—it was everywhere and dished out every which way, from calculated grids to highland tartans. While that might not mean much for the jewelry set, those checks crossed over to several trends that will. For starters: The ­season’s grunge mood, which might have begun last season—remember Van Noten’s ­terrific ode to the Seattle scene?—bubbled up again at Hedi Slimane’s much-debated Saint Laurent show as well as the aforementioned Givenchy and Rodarte runways. We saw hard takes on street chic, too, including biker/moto references (Chalayan, 3.1 Phillip Lim, and ­Undercover) and all-out punk (one word: Versace).

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Alber Elbaz focused on “you” at a rule-breaking Lanvin show in Paris.

The jewelry conclusion may seem obvious—go for edgy hardware—but the real takeaway is the chain-link trend, which offers a more digestible way to partake in punk. Donatella Versace and Lanvin’s Elbaz did rebelliously heap on the chunky chains, but those bold links also showed up in a tony, glam way at Diane von Furstenberg and Bottega Veneta. That’s the beauty of chains. “They can go tough or classic,” says Morrison. “You can appeal to the young girl and to the woman.”

14k yellow gold “S” mini disc initial pendant with 0.03 ct. t.w. diamonds; $535; KC Designs, NYC; 212-921-9270; kcdesignsnyc.com

The runway’s occasional religious motif, Morrison says, figures into the season’s rock ’n’ roll movement, too. To wit: Those oversize cross earrings at Dolce & Gabbana and Alberta Ferretti can easily swing into Desperately Seeking Susan territory. “The punk we saw on the runways still had a femininity to it,” adds Gizzi.


The other big trend in which plaids played a part? Fall’s menswear narrative, which resulted in a flurry of haberdasher patterns: glen plaids, Prince of Wales checks, pinstripes, and houndstooths galore. New Yorkers Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, and Thom Browne had them; Gucci, Maison Martin Margiela, Stella McCartney, and Yohji Yamamoto did as well. The jewelry angle here? Go for contrast.

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Alexander Wang’s generous cuts were balanced by slim bracelets at Balenciaga’s Paris show.

“The menswear story calls for more feminine accessories,” says Morrison. It’s a tip designers themselves explored on the runways, even as they served the Savile Row look with shots of feminine intrigue—Rochas’ Marco Zanini paired his gentle tailoring with delicate crystal collars (and jewelry rolls–turned–clutches), while Van Noten’s outing, inspired by a mash-up of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, featured mannish cuts and floral suitings embellished with single-strand gemstone necklaces. Adding an unexpected dose of sparkle at the latter: the crystal glitz covering the models’ ears, a motif echoed earlier at Thakoon with its elegant pearl, diamond, and sapphire ear cuffs.


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Parisian pajama party! Designer Marc Jacobs’ glam nightie-inspired show for Louis Vuitton also featured plaid tidings.

On the runway, the big W—wearable—translated to a quieter style of dressing. Think simple yet no less sophisticated shapes. Among the collections to rally behind this new mode of understated chic: Victoria Beckham (polished modesty), Marni (feminine austerity), Proenza Schouler (crisp, clean silhouettes), and Céline (soft, clean silhouettes). But does pulling back mean a death knell for baubles? Not quite.

In fact, the understated hook actually opened the doors for big, bold accoutrements. “If you’re more demure or restrained below,” Gizzi states, “that’s a huge opportunity for beautiful statement ­jewelry.” Chadwick Bell, for instance, delivered on sportif simplicity with easy cuts and monotone colors, but he went all out with the demonstrative tribal neckwear, done in collaboration with Dinosaur Designs. “It was a nice contrast [to the clothes],” says Bell. “The jewelry you see is actually combinations of different pieces—bangles strung together or layered necklaces, pendants, and rings.”

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Art Deco–style pendants complemented Giorgio Armani’s menswear-influenced styles in Milan.

That big-is-better mantra appeared again and again on the runways, most visibly in massive ­pendants. Giorgio Armani worked a geometric Art Deco vibe, Roberto Cavalli went for massive fringed tassels at Just Cavalli, while Sui’s ’60s sendup featured long, swinging pendulums. While the necklace is the season’s big news—boosted by the décolletage-friendly necklines seen at Prada, Gucci, and Versace—hefty earrings got their due, too, whether chandelier-style at Balmain or Lim’s shoulder dusters. “Thankfully, when jewelry was present on the runway,” says Gizzi, “you didn’t have to squint to see it.”


Sterling silver Tombolo Rocca necklace with rock crystal cabochon overlay on 36-inch chain; $646; Laurent Gandini, Milan; 39-029-075-2843; laurentgandini.com

Of course, when talking about the generous cuts, rounded couture shapes, and beefed-up proportions on the fall runways, Gizzi advises consumers to pull back on jewelry size. The sole bijoux, for instance, topping off Alexander Wang’s sculpted elegance and cocoon curves at Balenciaga was a slim silver ­knotted bracelet on each arm. “Volume lends itself poorly to big ­jewelry,” she explains. “Still, there were a lot of cropped sleeves to the huge coats we saw, which gives women the opportunity to play with chunkier bracelets.”

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Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana went all out in their oversize cross baubles at Dolce & Gabbana in Milan.

As for the season’s pajama and boudoir trend—best championed by Marc Jacobs in his own collection and at Louis Vuitton, and Phoebe Philo’s inviting coziness at Céline—there’s a prompt here for jewelry designers, too: Get intimate. “We’ll see a trend in sentimental heirloom jewelry and personalized pieces with initials,” Gizzi continues. “These tend to come out when women want to feel comforted.”