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There’s a common wisdom that trends are passé. Yes and no. Certainly there’s more variety from across the designer spectrum than ever before. With so much choice, women today are empowered to develop their own sense of style. Yet one is hard-pressed to deny the emergence of themes, great and small, from the collections. Fall’s most dramatic motif: a gloriously brooding Victorian vibe. Retailers loved it for its sensual allure; surely their customers will, too.

The season’s other major trend spans many moods. Increasingly, current fashion is about the surface, with designers offering myriad textures to diverse effect. A double case-in-point: at Dior, Raf Simons went both future-slick with perforated separates and indulgently lush with rich- hued fur. Then there are mini trends, whether a single item — car-wash skirt, cropped flared pants — or a flourish, as in extra-long sleeves or fur bits. The difference is in the delivery. Designer dictates are passé. But what’s wrong with chic suggestion?

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