April 25, 2010

The Autumn/Winter '09/2010 silhouette

So, now that the sandals and summer dresses have been packed away – it’s time to look at the winter 2009/10 winter trends that rocked the catwalks from New York and South Africa to Milan, Paris and London.

Both local and international designers faced a tricky challenge for autumn/winter and that was: to make covetable clothes that inspire our imagination, confidence and wallets, at a time when all three have been tested to the limit by the world wide economic climate. But most designers proved once again, that economic uncertainty doesn’t change the fact that choosing what to wear is still an expression of our personality and state of mind. As Donatella Versace put it before her show (referring to the recession),
“You can’t run and hide but you can and must be who you are”
Fashion interacts with our everyday lives in a way few other art forms can, and with such a grim back drop to work with this season, the response mostly centered on keeping sprits up. But this winter season, the looks that designers produced for winter ‘09/’10 are broadly influenced by strong silhouettes and sophisticated glamour. Most collections consist of pieces that are low on flash/bling and high on timeless sustainable style (hello vintage!). Although the silhouettes are strong, the overall aesthetic is subtle and clean.

But what I love the most is that designers have decided to say au revoir to plumber butt crack, muffin tops and camel toe friendly skinny pants (at least for this winter) and hello to simple high quality bespoke wearable styles which are less age-dependant. Understated dressing paired with statement accessorizing. Winter 2010 fashion is grounded firmly in the classics, but with a modern twist from eye-catching embellishments, tactile fabrics and textures. It’s sexy without shouting about it and can be categorized into two macro strong trends ie.

40’s inspired chic

Just prior to the recent world-wide economic collapse, modern clothes were needlessly revealing. First, it was the crop tops. Remember how difficult it was to find t-shirts which were long enough to cover one’s belly button? Then the tides turned, but not for the better. Although the tops got longer, the change was offset by the rise of the low cut pants. Plumber butts and diamante thongs became all the rage. But since the stock markets crashed in 2008, retailers suddenly started providing more conservative waist heights. Just like the war time 1940’s, the public focused more on putting food on their tables than exposing themselves.

The 1940s were marked by refinement and understated elegance. Skirt lengths were typically just below the knee and were not overly full or flowing. Clothes and footwear were rationed. Rather than running out each season and buying the latest trends, women were encouraged to make and mend. Jackets could be no more than 25 inches in length, pants no more than 19 inches in circumference at the hem, belts no more than two inches wide and heels no more than an inch in height. Hemlines rose to the knee in an effort to conserve fabric. Women wore shorter, boxy jackets for a V-shaped silhouette.

When wearing the updated version of this look, emphasize the hourglass shape with belts and amp up the femme factor with red/dark lips.

The key elements of this femme look are jitterbug swing skirts, platform pumps, cardigans, broad shoulders, cinched waists, hats, wide legged trousers,


full length coats, gloves, rolled up pants/jeans, short jackets and head bands. Prada, Diesel, Diane von Furstenberg, Louis Vuitton and Thakoon did a bang up job in updating this look.

The Masculine Female Dandy

Building on elements already big in past seasons - like the tuxedo trend and military fashion, the female dandy look in 2010 is part Oscar Wilde and a touch of Coco Chanel.

The trend finds its roots firmly in Great Britain’s Regency era and evokes thoughts of aristocracy and its associated wealth.

While built on androgyny, the dandy trend is definitely feminine. A mixture of sharp tailoring and stereotypically masculine clothes, but all cut to accentuate and flatter the female body.

The key elements of this look are high collars, ruffles & bow blouses, slim cut jackets, oversized brooches, waist coats, tailored vests, fob chains, derby shoes, frock & tail coats and high waisted jodhpurs. Abaete, Rag & Bone and Ralph Lauren (love the feminising three-piece suits) got the look spot on.   

April 07, 2010

Pout in red

I was recently at a cocktail party and while freshening up in the powder room, I got into a conversation with a couple of black women. You see, I was freshening up my lipstick and it caused a few quick stares. I happen to be wearing a deep shade of red. I love red lipstick and for me, it's not strictly for evening wear. I wear it comfortably with both a black cocktail dress and a white t-shirt and blue jeans. It brightens up my face AND my mood.

Back to the ladies in the powder room. The consensus amongst the sistas was that red lipstick doesn't work for black women. They said it works for some women and Marilyn Manroe, Gwen Stefanie were mentioned. I concede that it does in fact work for some women and not others. But it has nothing to do with race. Some women like it and some feel too self conscious or might just feel they prefer more conservative make up or they just don't want to bother.

But if you do love a red pout, here's a few tips, specifically for black women when wearing red lipstick:

Skin tone: For black skin, a deep red lipstick with a burgundy, plum, chocolate undertone is the way to go. Stay away from cherry, siren true reds if you’re on the darker side of the scale! Orange, golden, or brown-based reds work best. Although on very dark skin a cool blue fuchsia-red can look beautiful. If you find a matte red intimidating, take baby steps and try a sleek red gloss.

Colour bleed: Because red is a colour that bleeds, be sure to line lips first with either a matching or nude lip liner to prevent colour transfer.

Application: For even application, use a lip brush.

Rest of the Look: Because red lipstick is very dramatic the rest of your look needs to stay subtle. Light eye shadow ( go for one shimmery, allover eye color if you have to wear shadow at all), black/brown eyeliner as close to the lashes as possible and a coat of mascara. For evening make-up, keep blush to a natural tone. And remember, red lips + red nails = TACKY.