SPRING FEVER: FROM FEMME TO ’50S

Byline: Karen Parr

NEW YORK — A mix of feminine and masculine influences, with retro Fifties style thrown in, will dominate next spring’s offerings, based on a sampling of junior and streetwear designers.
Femininity is in the details, with embroidery on skirt hems and tops. In fabrics, gone are the billowy flower prints that usually pop up as perennially as new grass. They have now been reinterpreted into vine prints with spare blooms.
Masculine touches are evident in styles such as cargo pants and skirts with cargo pockets.
As the Fifties are reinterpreted, the market is sprinkled with clam-diggers, capri pants, shrunken polos, crop tops, halters and the occasional plaid.
At Tart in San Francisco, creative director Robert Quayle hails romantic looks as the number one trend.
He says his group is influenced by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” with vine prints, embroidery and power mesh with overlays of georgette and chiffon.
Capri pants in stretch twill, stretch denim and seersucker and shrunken polos are also in Tart’s line.
“It’s very Hamptons 40 years ago,” Quayle said. “It’s fresh, and it exudes spring.”
Quayle also believes in the military influence, with cargo pocket pants and lace-trimmed camoflage fabrications.
At Dollhouse here, designer Nicole Murray has created ankle-length pants and knee-length shorts in stretch cotton sateen and the “Maxine,” men’s-inspired pants in stretch nylon, as well as knee-length Dollhouse jeans with a fake cuff.
“Then we did a little ode to the trailer-park kids,” Murray said, indicating a plaid group of halters and button-front shirts shaped through the waist.
Capris and short pants are inspired by “Grease,” and the styles take the names of some of the show’s characters.
At 26 Redsugar in Irvine, Calif., designer Dana Dartez also believes opposites attract.
“If I do a girly top, I’ll do a boyish bottom,” she said. She offsets her slim-fit boys’ style T-shirt with a cotton skirt trimmed with embroidered flowers. “It’s a combined look that makes it all cool,” she said.
Dartez is also doing unexpected color combinations, such as khaki and lavender, olive and turquoise, and red with baby blue.
At Z. Cavaricci, in Los Angeles, designer Christopher Webb is promoting synthetic blends for spring.
One, a cotton and nylon blend called “electra twill,” is a follow-up to a shiny dark denim the firm did well with this fall. For spring, the shiny fabric comes in colors such as camel, nude and beige and in bodies such as parachute pants and skirt, slim-leg pants and a flair.
In addition, Z. Cavaricci has shirts with a photo print of Buddha on top of an allover print that is like a temporary tattoo in henna.
Leisure suits are rearing their Seventies heads at Z. Cavaricci, in velour with athletic piping and tape.
At Tramp here, designer Ruks Aylam said she is working on a cleaner look this spring, with slinky fabrics. The lingerie influence will continue with bra-strap-trimmed camisoles, and lace and embroidery trims overall.
Printed vines on skirts, dresses and tops are evidence of the Asian influence watered down, she said, adding, “The patterns are scattered. It almost creates a scenic effect.”
At De-Laru, a junior eveningwear firm here, designer Sheila Yen said the romantic trend includes tiers of fabric in dresses, and soft colors and embroidery.
“Then there is the hard edge, modern look, with asymmetrical cuts carrying forward,” she said. “Although we may be tired of it, for middle America it still looks new. These two camps are on opposite ends of the spectrum, which reiterates that today in fashion, anything goes.”
Spaced-out florals are strong at De-Laru, as are ombre chiffons and iridescent organzas.
“Our whole season is about the pant length and the silhouette,” said Holly Sharp, designer for Girlstar, a division of Gotcha in Irvine.
There are short-shorts with side slits or scalloped legs; board shorts and cargo shorts with three-inch inseams, and shorts that are an inch above the knee.
Then there are the clam-diggers, which Sharp said have gotten the best response from buyers.
“We love them,” she said. “We’ve been wearing them at the beach, and they look so cool with floppy beach shoes and a snug T-shirt.”
Girlstar also has the “flood,” a slim silhouette with a low flare at the calf.
Side slits are everywhere in the Girlstar line, on shirts, pants, skirts and dresses.
At Bionic Threads, the nights of Studio 54 have not yet seen the dawn, according to Karen Levitt, who represents the line at the Blue Room showroom here.
The line, designed by Helen Cho and Annie Lewis, includes hard elements mixed with soft, such as sateen pieces with metal stud accents and a group of layered sheers.
“Even the idea of their angora sweater and their Asian skirt has that Studio 54 vibe to it,” Levitt said.
The sateen group includes a skirt silhouette and clam-diggers. The layered sheer group includes a dress, skirt and top in combinations of black over hot pink, black over white and purple over bright baby blue.
The San Francisco firm Esprit, said design director Marcus Brown, is going for a subtle ethnic feel for spring. There is a Moroccan-inspired tile print on diaphanous fabrics and another print in a small-scale paisley.
Brown also thinks the idea of a design placed in one spot on a fabric is a fresh way of doing prints as opposed to the allover approach.
“We are trying to do more ornamental, special garments — almost like handcrafted clothing,” he said. “I think people are after something that’s a little bit more unique.” Brown feels that, ultimately, there is no one particular direction for fashion this spring. “Options,” he said, “are extremely important.”

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