The fashion industry has been operating under duress since the economy tanked and all who had been living off credit suddenly stopped spending.
In trying to coax people to venture out of their caves again, designers have come up with the strongest collections in recent seasons by throwing in a little bit of everything we love: feathers, fur, pearls, lace, animal prints and classic military looks.
I mean, who’s going to lust for another black T-shirt, right?
Most prevalent on store racks now is the return of fur. (Sorry, PETA, I just report on what I see, and animal activists please note, there are plenty of faux or shorn wool examples.)
While celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe frets over white or goddessy moments on the red carpet, fashion is having a major Zoe moment, with strong outerwear that appears tailor-made to suit the stylist’s boho-glam aesthetic.
For warm-weather Hawaii, furs abound in spare forms, from collar accents, to shoulder wraps, boleros and an abundance of furry, hairy or woolly vests. You’ll find the Zoe (or "10,000 Years B.C." or vintage Sonny Bono) look everywhere, whether you’re a fan of Jil Sander, Michael Kors or Juicy Couture.
As the war in Afghanistan continues, military looks are still en vogue. Classic uniform-style jackets are dressed up in draped strands of chains that pay homage to late music/fashion icon Michael Jackson.
The military look’s attendant olive-green color is having an impact on more feminine pieces as well. And replacing the skinny jean is the new jodhpur-style pant, so named because it was discovered and adapted for military use by British occupation forces in Jodhpur, India, in the late 19th century. The new pant is fitted through the waist and bottom, and tapers to a snug cuff at the calves or ankles.
The dominance of women among the employed also has led designers to take feminine power to heart. Thomas Juranek, brand consultant for Jil Sander, in town to show the designer’s new collection at Neiman Marcus, said Sander believes "by 2030, women will have taken over the world."
He said her collection was designed with Vogue editor Anna Wintour and fictional archaeologist/adventurer Lara Croft in mind. Resulting looks are strong, sophisticated and adult, not girly.
For those unable to afford to transform their wardrobe, must-have accessories include structured handbags, often in animal prints, to replace slouchy hobos; boots in lengths from ankle to over-the-calf; and hats to add stylish polish to the most casual look.
The looks will be on display during Fashion’s Night Out, Sept. 10 (details at right).