New York Fashion Week shook off its reputation for playing it safe this week with bold use of colour and prints and an emphasis on the new utility trend.
As Drapers went to press, labels including Preen, Diane von Furstenberg and Marc by Marc Jacobs flexed their prowess for colour with dramatic bursts of saturated orange, canary yellow and electric blue on the spring 12 catwalks.
In marked contrast to spring 11, which almost exclusively referenced the 1970s, spring 12 in New York was loaded with trends, from striking 1930s drop waists at Preen through to 1990s crop tops and sporty mesh jackets at Alexander Wang.
Elsewhere, the longer hemline was visible but New York chose knee-length over the midi skirt, and tapered trousers were cut to the ankle, notably at the Tommy Hilfiger and Carolina Herrera shows.
Pamela Shiffer, owner of the eponymous designer indie in Primrose Hill, north London, said New York had left her feeling positive about colour and print for spring 12. “The 1950s and 1940s style references up to now have been too literal. However, this season the retro references are softer and are kept fresh with colour, print and shape,” she said.
Another key trend in New York followed on from 1990s grunge, which gained momentum with younger women for autumn 11 and has been taken forward in New York with clear 1990s utility references.
Alexander Wang’s Motocross-inspired collection boasted cycling shorts, and drawstring waist jackets were seen at Marc by Marc Jacobs.
One of the most eagerly anticipated and arguably best-received of the New York shows was Victoria Beckham. Despite recently giving birth, Beckham showed she was no one-trick pony with some striking sports references that gave her collection a new direction.
New York churned out one surprise after another, with much more pizazz than what we are used to seeing. New York is known for playing it safe, but this season it left London a tough act to follow.
Highlights included the edgy downtown girl at Alexander Wang and Altuzarra, which epitomised the sports utility trend. Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta equally impressed, brimming with vivacity and a bold use of colour.
Keeping a balance will be key. Those that went too simple or complicated will lose out, and maintaining that equilibrium, whether it be between masculine and feminine or print and colour, is the challenge. Those that got the balance right - notably Victoria Beckham, Alexander Wang and Diane von Furstenberg - will reap the benefits come spring.
See next week’s Drapers for a full report from New York.
Marie Davies, junior fashion editor