Photo Credit: Style.com
AS THE 21ST CENTURY advances, the fashion world travels in the same fast lane as the cosmos of technology. It seems as though trends are discarded just as fast as nifty cell phones.
This year, trends saw a combination of intelligence and disposability. Many of the looks we saw this year became a template to forecast what we can see in 2007, while other trends went out of style as soon as they became in vogue.
From the reincarnation of a signature Audrey Hepburn look to the fashionably maneuverable men's blazer, this year's stylish scope was a set up for what we can expect in 2007.
The skinny on jeans
It's unanimous — the No. 1 trend for women this year was skinny jeans. After being in hibernation for decades, the tapered garments gained popularity with sartorial savvy.
"We saw skinny pants fly off our shelves," says Erica Archambault, spokesperson from the San Francisco-based retail giant, Gap. "Women took a very popular look from the 80s and updated it with fresh modern twists like pairing it with heels and knee high boots."
At first people held some apprehension about reviving this look because of its trim silhouette — and the fact that not every woman is a size 2.
"Once people started dabbling in it, they started loving it," adds Archambault, "There are ways to wear them to make them look good for any age bracket."
Skinny pants were a launching pad for other slim fitting attire. Form-fitting leggings in solid colors, prints and different textures served as a layering additive for women.
The numerous versions of slender cut pants served as a counterpoint for varying proportion. Rachel DiCarlo, spokesperson from the American Eagle Outfitters says the teenage clothing vehicle translated the trend with their own signature relaxed preppy style.
"There were a lot of longer tops over narrow bottoms," says DiCarlo. "We saw great pairings of sweaters with skinny jeans."
Despite having a discriminatory title, the skinny jean seems to have worked for all frames and was the "it" item of the year. The looming question is whether or not this will work for 2007. Only time (and the fashion Gods above) can tell.
Pump up the volume
In the same year, fashion ranged from the skinny to the ballooning. Volume in women's clothing was turned up — way up. In the fall 2006 collections of big-name designers, Alexander McQueen showed voluminous haunting Victorian charm and Balenciaga pushed the envelope with swelling silhouettes; but how did this translate to the masses?
The juxtaposition of volume and the skinny jean was stylistically schizophrenic, but it worked. Rather than looking like hot air balloon couture, the inflated garments presented in retail stores were in the form of eye-catching bubble skirts and high-waisted baby doll tops.
The return of the dress
Women took the opportunity to flaunt femininity with the traditional dress. Despite the tradition surrounding the garment, there were no frilly details. Females modernized the dress to extremes that not only gave new meaning to the garment, but also embodied an elegant, yet commanding aura of womanhood.
"It is the return of the dress," says Stephanie Solomon, Bloomingdale's Fashion Director of Women's Ready-to-Wear and Accessories. "Diane von Furstenberg epitomized the return to wearing the dress — it's worn in new ways and modernized as sporstswear."
This year, von Furstenberg created shirt and wrap dresses that set the standard for other designers to create similar garments. The ovation among females was more than generous.
The timeless jacket saw many variations throughout the year. With sister species of outwear like cardigans, boleros and hoodies, people creatively took advantage of the versatile outwear throughout the year.
"I've seen a great use of the sports jacket in both men and women," says Erica Varize, fashion designer and owner of Evarize Fashion Cafe Boutique in Berkeley. "People were becoming more fashion conscious and dressing it up and dressing it down."
The blazer was biggest in the male arena. Permutations of the classic garment ranged from the whimsical pinstripe to deconstructed punk. Men paired it with jeans for a casual look, but it remained a staple for formal occasions. That said, the incredible blazer was a day-to-evening wardrobe favorite.
The bigger the better
Jaye Hersh, owner of the Los Angeles celebrity shopping haven, Intuition, and Chief Shopping Officer of Visa Signature, points out that oversized accessories were popular to her Hollywood clientele, which includes Halle Berry, Demi Moore as well as tabloid queens Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. This set the standard when it came to this year's trends.
"People look to celebrities for style because they want to have a piece of Hollywood," says Hersh. "They want to feel like a star."
The stars certainly made an impact when it came to the outsized world of everyday accessories. From Aviator sunglasses worn by Brangelina to incognito Jackie-O frames donned by Eva Mendes, oversized sunglasses were big hit among celebs and civilians.
For handbags, fashion virtuoso, Marc Jacobs created a generously sized multi-pocketed satchel that eventually ignited a wildfire of hobo bags and totes.
Hersh's store carries an assortment of these purses and said, "the smaller the girl, the bigger the bag." Case in point: the waify Nicole Richie is always seen with a handbag ten times bigger than her head.
As the revolution of men's style continued to thrive, men started to step up to the plate when it comes to looking stylish. For men of all ages, "man jewelry" was a highly sought after commodity.
For the refined gentleman, a splash of dapper charm was shown via characteristic cufflinks, I.D. bracelets, watches and simple rings.
For the younger crowd, there was no "bling" of kitschy diamond-studded platinum chains or signs of the tired pooka shell necklace. They were all replaced with sleek long chains with dog tags, metaphysical charms of the Buddhist persuasion and drop pendants.
Fashion, as of late, has seen comfort in deconstruction and edgy punk couture. Jeans are worn and torn to the point of non-recognition, everything is artificially "vintaged," and tops are splattered with paint. It seems as though the sloppy has turned into the stylish, but when will people realize that the number of ways to rip a shirt is limited?
"I appreciate a more clean and polished look," says Gap's Archambault. "I wouldn't mind the whole Euro-punk look to go away."
The edginess of punk has also developed into tired styles of rock'n' roll, rockabilly, grunge and goth. The looks have overstayed their welcome and it's time for them to take a bow.
As for shoes, the great debate of the Ugg boot still remains a hot topic. Unfortunately, its reign as a fall/winter shoe staple will have to be put on hold until next year — or be completely abolished.
"I can't stand the Ugg boot," says Berkeley designer Erica Varize. "I am so against the Ugg that it's not even something I think about anymore."
When it comes to "what's out" it doesn't necessarily pertain to the physical garments we put on our back. Sometimes it's all about how we wear it — and that is a trend in itself.
"Women need to start dressing their age," says Intuition's Hersh. "What may have worked for them when they were younger, may not work for them now."
Characteristic dressing does not only apply to mature women trying to look as if they were 18 again, but it pertains to the younger generation.
"I am a part of the hip-hop generation," says Varize, "but I can't stand oversized jeans and T-shirts — I am just over that look."
Fashion for 2007 can be predicted based on the styles of the past year. Trends can see a progressive transition or, more likely, do a complete 180 degree turn.
"It's going to have a lighter mood," says Archambault of Gap. "The style is going to embrace a more relaxed look that is clean and simple."
People can expect the "lighter mood" to be interpreted for women via Asian florals and lively geometric prints, while men can expect a vintage'50s Hawaiian Tropicana, navy blues and ice cream shades.
"There will be an optimistic point of view in fashion," says Stephanie Solomon of
Bloomingdale's. "For spring we can see this return to clear bright colors with magenta, cobalt blue, marigold yellow and heather green."
The progression of the modern dress continues for women, but they can also expect to see more of the intelligent suit, making it another form of sportswear.
"The looks will be happier and cleaner," says Solomon. "We will start to get away from the ruffles and there will be a wider, comfortable leg."
The look of tailored on top and wider leg opening recalls the "Laugh-in" days of the'60s — a clear path of fashion's direction. Volume will be less exaggerated and be replaced by clever tailoring.
"I would like to see more of a fitted silhouette that is flattering for most women; elegant but sexy," foretells San Francisco designer Lily Achatz. "Think'60s — fitted at the waist with a fuller skirt."
H&M has validated some of these predictions with their 2007 spring/summer collection. For women, modernized retro pant suits and thoughtfully draped dresses made the cut; while pastel shades and Beatles-inspired tailoring were apparent for men.
As far as fashion's "it" designer of 2007, 30-year-old Anand Jon is one to keep your eye on. His new denim line, "Jeanisis" and his yet-to-be-released reality show has earned him a buzz. Even so, it's Christopher Bailey of Burberry that has caused a buzz with industry professionals.
"He's brilliant and has a quirky approach," says Solomon of Bloomingdale's. "He does smart tailoring and uses feminine details that don't make you want to gag."
Fashion is just as fast-paced as any other industry, so everyone is always looking out for the biggest thing, whether it be a designer or trend that appeals to all ages and sexes. In an industry that can be just as unpredictable as the weather, the dictators of fashion may be the conceptual artists but ultimately it's the people who determine what's "in" and what's "out."