Victorian, Edwardian and Russian-royalty influences abounded, chiefly in the form of flowing, often ankle-length skirts. Sensual, heavily tactile fabrics like lace, velvet and satin and embellishments such as fur and beads are fit for a czarina. And black is back, from dapper and dandyish at Ralph Lauren to tailored and urbane (Donna Karan).

Ralph Lauren’s yoked velvet gown had a Seventies/Victorian connection, as did Jill Stuart’s velvet cutaway jackets, which channeled Edwardian dandies and “Sergeant Pepper” alike.

“Ralph Lauren’s whole collection was dedicated to this theme,” said Penne Weidig, senior buyer for European and American collections for Houston-based Tootsie’s. She liked his jacket with a ruffled back, chiffon, ruffled tops, lace detailing, and “spat” pants with buttons up the sides. “There also was a lot of the dandy look going on, like Dolce & Gabbana or Ralph Lauren’s three-piece suits with vests. We also bought a gray suit and vest with pale pink pinstripes and matching pale pink shirt from Richard Tyler Couture,” she said.

A Nose for Clothes’ Freda Greenbaum called the Russian-royalty trend very item-driven. Key elements she cited were fake fur, capes, ponchos, rich colors like berries and cognacs, ruffles and beautiful embroideries.

Marc Jacobs incorporated painted velvet and metallic brocades into his fall collection, and Richard Tyler had elegant, luxe velvet gowns in purple, navy and forest green accented with taffeta rosettes or lace bands across the back.

Jen.Bel took the Goth route with Victorian dresses, blouses and pants in a palette of mostly black with beaded lace edging, laced ribbons and hook-and-eye closures.

America The Beautiful
It’s back to the basics for fall, as designers show clean-cut, tried-and-true silhouettes with an absence of color. American designers such as Norman Norell and Claire McCardell receive their due with Thirties- and Forties-inspired clothing. Think slouchy, wide-leg pants, skinny sweaters, ankle-strapped platform shoes, feminine tuxedos and shiny metallic fabrics in dresses suitable for a Hollywood siren. Another all-American look that’s cycling in again: the black leather motorcycle jacket paired with cleaned-up denim and a classic white shirt.

Weidig zeroed in on the white shirt trend. “It’s a great piece regardless if it’s at the height of fashion,” she said. She chose several versions of the classic, from Ralph Lauren, Gianfranco Ferre and Rayure.

Emily Williams, a buyer for Luna, a specialty store with locations in Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C., among others, predicted the return of the peacoat, which she said will be “huge” for fall.

Jeffrey Kalinsky, owner of the Jeffrey stores in Atlanta and New York, cited biker looks at Michael Kors as a key trend.

A definitive item at Balenciaga was designer Nicolas Ghesquiere’s scaled-down leather aviator jacket with a big knit collar.

Zac Posen, a promising newcomer to New York show week, favored dramatic, retro styles such as exaggerated shoulder treatments and a tuxedo jumpsuit.

Carolina Herrera presented the glamour of Old Hollywood with tuxedos, wide pants, long gowns and a belted coat in gold lame.

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