By  on July 7, 2008

After a strong showing on the fall runways in New York and Europe, designers and retailers continue to be passionate about legwear — and their optimism extends all the way into the holiday season.

Color is a primary trend on which retailers are betting big.

"Our biggest legwear story is all about color and texture," said Ann Watson, vice president and fashion director at Henri Bendel. "Two designers who expressed it best were Proenza Schouler in New York and Bottega Veneta in Milan. I loved the playing with tonalities of color at Bottega [Veneta] — there's nothing more lean-looking than head-to-toe one color. Proenza [Schouler] took a more whimsical approach. It was very fresh — a burgundy leg against navy — playing within those color families was new. At the end of the day, what the consumer needs to know is that it's more of a tonal story, whether playing within tones of the same family or playing 'matchy-matchy.'"

Watson said the specialty store increased its legwear buys for the fall season and is "double exposing it in lingerie and amongst ready-to-wear" so customers can see their head-to-toe wardrobes in one place.

Heavy knits are also another style to watch this fall. Brands as different as Tibi and Rodarte both showed chunky textured legwear. At Tibi, designer Amy Smilovic sent down layered pieces, namely wool thigh-highs slouched over herringbone tights, while Rodarte presented open-weaved ripped-styled tights.

"Texture for us looks great," said Watson. "Even lace came down the ready-to-wear runway and lace hosiery makes legwear feminine. It's an easy way to incorporate the lace trend into a wardrobe. The other thing about texture we're seeing is the continuation of ribbed — it's texture without bulk."

While metallic handbags have long been a trend in accessories, sparkly, shiny hose is consistently a popular holiday season look.

Tony Taylor, whose Look from London legwear firm partnered with Anna Sui on her collection, said, "We always do metallic for fall because it runs into holiday and works so well. Anna [Sui] puts glam back center stage all over again."

Perhaps one of the biggest trends for fall is reminiscent of the days of the Eighties power suit. The sheer leg is back, and such shows as Hervé Léger, 3.1 Phillip Lim and Alexander Wang embraced the sexy, sheer leg in shades of purple, navy and black."There's going to be a reintroduction to the sheer leg in a big way," said Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director at Neiman Marcus. "Consumers will want the 'lacquered leg' look."

Watson added, "Sheer is a part of our story, but we're keeping sheer more in neutral color palettes like sheer black. The polished look continues and it's very visible through this trend. Designers listened to consumers — they really do love to wear hosiery in the fall. It's a wardrobe staple."

Rodarte, Proenza Schouler and Alexander Wang photos by Robert Mitra, Bottega Veneta by Davide Maestri

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