The fast-fashion frenzy may be slowing and giving way to a minimalist movement that will have some staying power, said David A. Wolfe, creative director of The Doneger Group consultants.
"Fashion today has a longer shelf life than one season," said Wolfe, who forecasted trends for fall 2008 and beyond in a talk to the industry last week at Doneger's Manhattan offices.
Wolfe pointed to Saint-Tropez, a prime area to spot trends when the fashionable set visits during the first French and Italian bank holidays each year. "And there was nothing happening there," Wolfe declared gleefully, showing pictures of minimalist dresses. "There was just simple, plain clothes."
He dubbed this "the reassurance trend," which includes luxury, classics, antique femininity and appropriateness, and pointed to Marc Jacobs' fall 2007 show, which he called his "favorite show in the last decade — it looked like it was designed by the love child of Valentino and Yves Saint Laurent."
As for the concept of cool, "We've been chasing 'cool' for so long, but cool hasn't changed for so long that we are like the dog chasing its tail and finally catching it," Wolfe said. "It will be a blessed relief to see minimalism come back."
He also made a case for fashion that can be worn by "women of any age," like the dress that Best Actress winner Helen Mirren wore to this year's Oscars (he applauded its sleeves). Much classic fashion returned to the runway in the fall shows, Wolfe said, "and maybe if designers would show it on someone besides a 14-year-old girl, women who are 70 would understand it."
On the other hand, Wolfe criticized of over-the-top, unwearable runway looks. "These are not serious clothes: They are clothes no one wears," he said. "I'm tired of the fashion press taking them seriously."
One trend that he thinks has legs and that can work for any age is "intensity shapes." He doubts dramatically large shoulders and elaborate origami will transition from the runway to the sidewalks, but he thinks more subtle interpretations of the trends will be adopted."Rustic luxury" will also have its time. He cited plaids, bulky sweaters, leathers, feathers and "furs that look like they were trapped on the way to the runway."
Color-wise, Wolfe sees "breakout brights" as a trend that will go from the fall 2007 runway well into fall 2008. "It should have been the big headline news after the shows, but people weren't paying attention," Wolfe said. "And don't just think about bright color with black — think about bright color with more bright color."
Never a fan of black, Wolfe suggested interpreting the "Dark Ages" color trend as deep jewel tones. He also thinks metallics will stick around, "but we need to move them on, make them darker or think about colored metallics."
Wolfe also aired opinions on recent fashion ad campaigns, including celebrity endorsements of brands and social issues.
"I don't think [celebrity endorsements] are bad when the star's image matches the product," Wolfe said, adding that the new Smart Water ads featuring a nude Jennifer Aniston did not make the cut.
He pointed to the new formula in marketing: celebrities, clothes and causes. Although Wolfe liked Gap's Product Red campaign and applauded companies donating money to do good, he asked, "Should we be using strong causes to move merchandise? I don't know."
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