Fall 2008 Trend Forecasting

By Christian DiPietro
with additional reporting by the Styling Team

Each year, Fashion Week brings along new trends, colors, cuts, fits, and styles for the general public to admire and emulate. This year, there was a wide variety of different collections, and every piece shone in its own right. A palette of grays, purples, blacks, burnt ochre, turquoise, and rose for the ladies gave a sense of chic dressing with a touch of edge. The gentlemen got a treatment of neutrals, navy blues, blacks, and grays to accompany their wardrobe.

Silhouettes for women were all about cinching the waist, incorporating the hourglass figure into close-fitting garments. The emphasis on the feminine form and female features was also found in fun volume and interesting, inspired pieces. Men’s looks were long and lean, with both tight-fitting and loose pants. Broad shoulders and a narrow waist completed the ideal male look.

Relatively new to Fashion Week, Abaete showed one of the most interesting collections at Fashion Week. With color-blocking dresses and cinched volume (expectedly at the waist and unexpectedly at the hip or shoulder), Abaete was cool and fresh. Little Red Riding Hood hoods and hats, with tones of black and white, warm golds, multidimensional purple, and grays made the line shine even more. 

Marc Jacobs, notably fashion’s golden boy, showed the most dramatic collection by far. Long coats, intricate jeweled cuffs on dresses, and a boy-meets-girl menswear look left a sense of Katherine Hepburn on the runway. Strange cowboy hats with military-style coats (minus all the fussy buttons and sashes) stood strong next to the dropped waists in loosely structured pinstriped suits. Jacobs used a softer palette of muted grays, the occasional black, and light creams.

Noticeably menswear-inspired were the chunky leather and plaid jackets mixed with an Annie Hall-esque loosely tailored fit from Preen. Everything from the dresses to the pants followed this trend. Also showcasing some super-chic boy-meets-girl inspired dresses, outfits, and accessories was Alexander Wang, who took very dark colors, muted browns, blacks, and beiges and infused the palette into his mix of structured and ease-worthy pieces. 

Most designers at Fashion Week offered new and trendsetting looks, but Jonathan Saunders took a cue from past trends and transformed them into something unexpected.  Everything from the fish-tailed dresses to the draped and tailored dresses was old Hollywood with hipster twist. The look was completed by the subtle tones of beige and darkly muted colors.

If one would like the best example of a cinched waist, take a look at BCBG by Max Azria. Belts! Belts! Belts! Everything has a cinched waist with a belt tied, not buckled, to define a womanly feature. Interesting sleeve details, lots of minis, and a mix of light and heavy fabrics were all present, along with intricate dart manipulation. An interesting palette of unexpected colors like yellows and strong blues also incorporated blacks and white, pale pinks, nudes, and olive green. Azria also brought Herve Leger back to life with its celebrity followers wrapped in the designer’s signature elastic band dresses that show every sexy curve of the female body. These pieces make any woman stand a little taller and suck in a little more deeply after a large meal.

Many new designers shone brightly this year under the tents, but there was no absence of those time-honored names that many look to for inspiration. While the shapeless yet structured pieces of Donna Karen appeared in heavy fabrics and lovely drapes, Ms. Karen’s sense of ease that has become such a classic staple has had a touch of reinvention and is nothing short of exquisite. Carolina Herrera showed a more traditional fall palette that included mustard yellows, warm browns, blacks, oranges, grays, and fun prints in these shades in her lovely dresses and funky fur-lined pieces.

Continuing its goddess-like draping and dramatic trains, Marchesa kept its signature look but added beautiful detailing, like rosette sleeves and feather-trimmed hemlines. Gorgeous silks, chiffons, and detailed beadwork went into almost every garment. Hollywood has been nothing short of impressed by Marchesa; almost every celebrity has uttered the designer’s name on the red carpet when asked whom they were wearing. Anne Hathaway donned a gorgeous draped red gown with rosette detailing along the bust to attend this year’s Oscars, landing on every best-dressed list.
Girly pieces, beautiful pleating, satin fabrics, and bold but muted tones came down the runway from Ports 1961. With fur capes and different kinds of eveningwear dresses, Ports 1961 epitomizes a cool-girl chic look that everyone at a cocktail party notices as soon as the wearer walks in the door. Each piece, while dramatic and gorgeous in its own right, emphasizes the woman and her shape; some pieces are cinched and others leave a little something to the imagination.

The ladies of 3.1 Phillip Lim showed their downtown-hipster-meets-uptown chic look with lots of airy fabrics mixed with heavier weather-appropriate fabrics for fall (another trend to look for). Knit scarves and cool slouchy motorcycle boots along with Peter-Pan inspired hats helped shape the look of cigarette pants and billowy, flowing dresses and kept with the long and lean look of Lim. A more interesting palette of grays, strong blues, muted metallic, and deep turquoise was used.
Nicole Miller showed a street chic look that almost emulated that of DKNY; any cool and hip city girl would want to slip on one of Miller’s dramatically different jackets or beautifully polite dresses for evening.

The reinvention of Bill Blass can be credited to Peter Som, who daringly sent in a blue chinchilla coat and one of the sexiest collections Bill Blass has ever received. Tons of cinched waists and fun, sparkly cocktail dresses with unexpected details flitted down the runway. The effects of deep purples, grays, surprising prints, fun draping, and exquisite tailoring appeared in a nicely balanced collection.

Not surprisingly, Zac Posen showed us yet again how far he pushes the envelope with his dramatic runway and gorgeously decorated sets. While all the models popped down the runway in Minnie Mouse inspired hair, they sported everything from boy-meets-girl skirts and jackets to layers upon layers of detailed gowns. Colored tights and possibly the most interesting textured fabrics of Fashion Week rounded out the Posen look.

J. Mendel gave us a darkly romantic look of dramatically draped gowns and fur trim. Everything from the lace to the Christian Louboutin heels on the models’ feet screamed sex kitten, with a touch of ladylike class. The use of lace, fur, and brocades in shades of burnt ochre and orange was refreshing and new.

While most of the menswear trends have seemed to be so present in womenswear, it has been only a matter of time till the tables were turned. 3.1 Phillip Lim gave us romantic velvet pieces in both pants and blazers, giving off a bit of female vibe. Safari-tailored-meets-city-cool was done with billowy pants and extras like vests and sleek blazers. Incorporating another look for menswear, Lim also showed the look of a very hip Parisian man with a city twist, in large airy scarves and sleek suits. The same palette for Lim’s women’s garments was used in the men’s—another way of borrowing from the ladies.
The use of skinny and looser pants was shown nicely in Y-3, along with brighter colors in menswear, something that hasn’t been seen as much on the runways recently. Rag & Bone may have been the most dead-on collection for the men. A combination of skinny and looser pants, long stylish coats, and differently cut pieces gave men a versatile collection that included purple pants and chic ties. In the end, fashion needs to be facing forward, and all these collections show that there is no going back.

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