DESIGNER/ BRIDGE: BRIGHTENING UP
Byline: Janet Ozzard
NEW YORK — Color continues to edge out dark tones, even as designer and bridge firms plan for the traditionally somber fall season.
Knitwear is also making more inroads, ranging from T-shirts and jersey tops paired with woven bottoms, to full-fledged knit dressing. There, designers are mixing textured yarns with brighter color combinations.
In wovens, designers are looking for intense colors such as brown, green and blue and showing them in rich fabrics like velvet or tweed. They’re also using slight embellishments — embroidery, fake fur or tiny ruffles — to add some distinction to basic silhouettes.
Designer Gemma Kahng’s new Uniform label is taking two directions for fall: what Kahng calls bohemian, or “boho luxe” and “Dr. Zhivago.”
“I wanted to make two groups so that buyers could merchandise it differently,” said Kahng. “Boho luxe is reminiscent of hippy styles, but cleaned up so it can blend in with a day-to-day suit.” It was inspired, she said, by the Seventies London store Biba, known for its take on slinky, retro glamour clothes.
“There are little ruffles, small prints, lots of velvet,” she said.
The second group includes men’s wear looks in black and white tweeds and plaids, Russian-inspired prints, velvets and touches like fake fur cuffs on jackets. But all of the fashion pieces, she said, are worked around basics such as tailored, slim pants and knee-length skirts.
At the bridge suit house Criscione, national sales director Karen Cohen said that the monthly fall deliveries include at least three or four different fabrics.
“That’s a change for us, because we’ve been known for our rayon crepes,” said Cohen. “But stores are looking for a mix, so we’ve got rayon blends, knits, tweeds and novelty fabrics.”
Criscione is also shifting its silhouette a bit, including a softer shoulder, a bit more tailoring in its jackets and less embellishment, said Cohen.
“But we’ll still be very Criscione,” she noted. The mix will include about 80 percent pantsuits, Cohen said.
“We offer skirts, but the response to pants has been tremendous,” she said. “One of our strongest evening looks is a brocade pantsuit.”
Knitwear, too, is broadening its appeal.
“There continues to be a lot of excitement with yarns and stitches,” said knitwear designer Mary Jane Marcasiano, who designs under her name. “The space dye and zigzag looks we saw in fall and spring, for instance, are going to continue into next fall. We’ve changed ours slightly, though. For instance, the square zigzag I did for spring is more of a flame stitch. There are new variations on intarsia color-combination patterns as well.”
Marcasiano said that the lingerie touches, such as pointelle stitches, camisole shapes and spaghetti straps, will continue into fall, although slightly changed for the new season.
“I’m calling it the winter underwear look,” she said.
Marcasiano and Gemma Kahng are exhibiting at WWDMagic through the Cotton Incorporated Innovators program.
“Cotton is becoming more important because people are so interested in color, and it takes color so well. It’s not just for a basic sweater anymore,” Marcasiano said. “For instance, I have a yarn that’s thick-and-thin, and we’re space-dying it, so there’s variation in both the color and the texture. I’ve got a thick cotton yarn that’s wrapped with other yarns, so it has a tweed texture.”
Colors that Marcasiano feels will be important include greens, purples and teals, although she noted: “There will always be neutrals, like camel, vicuna and brown. I think brown has finally gotten established as a basic, like black.”
At Lecomte, a European knit dressing line launching for fall in the U.S., color is a driving force, said president Stuart Markus.
The company’s signature wool and acrylic blend yarn will show up in cowl sweaters, turtlenecks, cardigans, skirts and pants, he said.
“Everything is machine-washable,” he noted.
Among the main color stories for fall are charcoal and pear green, orange and brown and navy and white. Those will be merchandised with basic knit pieces in solid colors, Markus said.