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Designers Look To Old Hollywood for Inspiration

Casual lifestyle designers at WWDMagic are going for looks that channel the poolside divas of yesteryear.

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Special Issue
WWD MAGIC issue 08/11/2008

Forget the basics and bring on the glamour is the spring motto of casual lifestyle designers. They’re determined to beat the tough economy with vibrant collections that give consumers a reason to buy, featuring looks reminiscent of vintage Hollywood, with touches of metallics, sequins, satin and looped French terry cloth robes and tunics that channel poolside divas of yesteryear. The forecast also calls for a rainbow of colors and shades including soft pastels, jewel-tone brights, colorblocking and a panoply of prints. A common current among many collections: details, from sequins and beads to touches of lace and embroidery.

This story first appeared in the August 11, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

 

Silver-screen styles get the star treatment with slim and sleek silhouettes, tunics, long skirts and lots of black and white and gold, silver and bronze metallics.

 

“We’re going forward in a big way with poolside Old Hollywood style including long cover-ups cut from looped French terry cloth with silver and gold details, lightweight sheer and cotton tops and at least six variations on cotton capri pants,” said Dean Jacklone, chief executive officer at New York-based St. Tropez Collections, where spring wholesale
prices are $7.50 for cotton capri pants to $35 for a fur-lined hoodie.

 

Flashbacks to vintage style, especially Thirties and Seventies references such as longer skirts, abound at plus-size line Beautiful Plus in Wooster, Ohio. “Our spring shapes include longer maxi-style dresses, tunics and strappy sundresses in short and long styles, many cut from organic cotton.These are styles that will appeal to a wide age range from teens to women in their 30s,” said designer and buyer Kamni Arora, noting that wholesale prices start at $15 for a top and run to $24 for a skirt or dress.

 

A riotous palette of pastels and jewel tones, colorblocking and an amalgam of exotic, heraldic and even retro-cool vintage prints are designers’ favorites.

 

“Spring colors and prints are ways to give classics and new shapes a fresh vibrancy. We’re using lots of colorblocking, prints such as butterflies and waterfalls and a wide color spectrum including traditional pastels such as blue, yellow and pink and jewel-tone brights such as turquoise and fuchsia,” said Jacklone at St. Tropez Collections.

 

Arora at Beautiful Plus, meanwhile, said that midtone pastels of pink, lilac, mint and butter and bright blues, greens and yellows are part of the spring collection there, along with exotic floral, check and patchwork prints.

 

Nilla Shields in St. Petersburg, Fla., is trying to tap into a retro feel for spring. “Vintage and consignment stores are really popular now, and we wanted to tap into that romantic and retro vibe with retro Hawaiian garden and hula girl prints, leopard, island and jungle prints and tropical brights such as electric yellow, melon, coral, mango, turquoise and hot pink,” said managing director Sandra Fitzsimons Schintzius. “It’s about offering looks that evoke memories of comfort, security, fun and happiness. It’s a phenomenon that occurs when an economy is tough and retro and vintage styles become more popular.” Wholesale prices run from $16 for a graffiti-print ribbed cotton jersey tank top up to $52 for a hooded cotton jersey dress. The styles are designed to appeal to a wider range of women, from ages 18 to 80, starting for spring with the launch of Nilla Board and Sport Gear, a youth-oriented line that complements the established Nilla Shields collection.

 

Little things mean a lot, especially strategic touches of beads and textured fabrics such as silk and lace.

 

“Stone, stud and metallic embellishment and cotton ribbing and tiedyeing are important spring trends that will appeal to a wide range of consumers, from age 20 to 50,” said Joana Jung, designer at Big Bang Clothing in San Jose, Calif. Styles there include tracksuits, tank tops and fitted crewneck shirts; wholesale prices run from $10 to $15 for a top to $15 to $20 for a jacket.

 

At Nilla Shields, many of the spring styles feature textured touches such as tropical-theme appliqués and novelty detailing, as well as unusual buttons and metallic details, according to Fitzsimons Schintzius.

 

At Miami-based In Gear, the spring collection includes customized styles for the company’s casino, resort, spa and club retail accounts, including crystal logos on tops and jackets as well as appliqués and embroidery. “We’re also offerings lots of visual and textural appeal in the form of brushed acid washes on tops, jackets and bottoms, studded details on cap-sleeve tops, embroidery, appliqués, vibrant satin linings on fleece hoodies and prints ranging from peace signs to zebra and leopard prints,” said sales director Douglas Fisten. Wholesale prices run from $10 for a tank top to $18 for a jacket.

 

“Indian beading and embroidery and ethnic, floral and geometric prints give a multicultural appeal to our spring tops, bottoms and dresses,” said Neeraj Sharma, assistant manager at Hicksville, N.Y.-based Shoreline Wear Inc., where wholesale prices range from $6 for a cotton and rayon top to $29 for a moss crepe cotton and rayon dress.

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