In the streets and on Tommy Ton’s pages in the latest issue of Style.com/Print, jeans are more dressed-down than ever—shredded, distressed, and faded to a fare-thee-well. But it was a different story on the Spring runways, where polished denim ruled. At his Louis Vuitton swan song, Marc Jacobs gave dungarees a couture twist with jet-beaded pockets. Olivier Rousteing upped the ante at Balmain, trussing soft, faded chambray with major metal chains. And Joseph Altuzarra sent out tailored pieces featuring indigo prints in the style of Japan’s elaborate “boro” patchworks. Dark-rinse denim was also in the spotlight at Acne Studios, Versace, and Derek Lam. Even the Valentino designers got in on the act, whipping up a ball skirt (actually, full-leg culottes) from the stuff.
Forget your average everyday ruffles. The flounces that count for Spring are exaggerated and bold. Bottega Veneta’s Tomas Maier sculpted mille-feuille shapes on day dresses from a cotton woven with copper so that the fabric held its exuberant form. Dries Van Noten covered several of his finale numbers with clusters of voluminous, unfurling rosettes. Isabel Marant showed a one-shoulder frock featuring endless tiers of rippling tulle, and Mary Katrantzou whipped up printed baby-dolls decorated with both real and (for good measure) trompe l’oeil frills.
Gingham typically stirs up feelings of nostalgia, but lately designers are doing their part to modernize the classic checks. Derek Lam opened his Spring show with eight crisply tailored, crosshatched looks; Delpozo creative director Josep Font paired the graphic pattern with cheerful sunflowers; and Olivier Rousteing put his signature glam spin on the trend at Balmain with plaid bomber jackets and kicky skirts accompanied by chunky chain jewelry. As seen on the 3.1 Phillip Lim and Mark McNairy New Amsterdam menswear runways, buffalo-plaid pieces have been earning style points with the guys, too. Meanwhile, model off duty Marine Deleeuw looked like Lolita incarnate in her sweet pink-and-white shirtdress, and we spotted plenty of gingham items from Prada’s cinematic Fall ’13 collection in the streets. As Isaac Mizrahi told Style.com a few years ago at a Resort presentation, “Gingham is like a solid with a lot of personality.” Agreed.
Scanning back through recent seasons, the runways have sometime looked like an episode of VH1′s I Love the ’90s. Think of the grunge revivals at Dries Van Noten and Saint Laurent, or the catwalk comebacks of Carolyn Murphy and Kirsten Owen. We’ve also seen designers return to logomania, crop tops, and overalls. But the nineties throwback that feels most modern to us is the slipdress—the clean, minimal lines of which recall the glory days of Carolyn Bessette Kennedy and a young Kate Moss. For Spring, everyone from Stella McCartney and Isabel Marant to Jason Wu and Wes Gordon put their respective spin on the streamlined look. Keeping with that theme, Donna Karan celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of DKNY by revisiting the slinky, low-backed “naked dress” made infamous by the character Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City.
From the streets of New York to the Paris ateliers, fashion is in a California state of mind. For proof, look at all the references to West Coast skate, surf, rave, grunge, and lowrider subcultures on the Spring ’14 runways. Hedi Slimane, who was fetishizing Los Angeles and its underground scenes long before he landed at Saint Laurent, is at least partly responsible for this mass migration, but Kate and Laura Mulleavy deserve credit, too. After taking us “back home to Santa Cruz” last season, the Rodarte sisters’ L.A.-inspired lineup was full of chola-girl plaid shirts styled with snapbacks, satin bras, studded suspenders, and fringed skirts. Tommy Hilfiger, meanwhile, transformed Pier 94 into an epic beachscape with a boardwalk runway that complemented his sun-kissed, sporty clothes; Humberto Leon and Carol Lim channeled SoCal street racing at Opening Ceremony; and Jeremy Laing described his Spring collection as “Malibu Beach Barbie goes to a rave.”