In a year where spring collections were dominated by the usual suspects — trends such as pastels, animal patterns and ethnic prints — superior silhouettes, fine fabrics and choice of color helped designers stand out from the masses.
Top designers such as Diane von Furstenberg, Christian Siriano, Tracy Reese, Vera Wang and Badgley Mischka focused on finishing touches as opposed to the flash. As a result, collections appeared to be cleaner and more polished than in some years, giving them a timeless appeal.
As Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week's look at spring 2013 collections comes to a close, we wrap up the top trends.
Who knew that pants would be so popular?
But designers softened the garments to make them more female-friendly.
"I'm looking forward to celebrating womanhood through all the girly silhouettes," said Alice Ntam, an image consultant and fashion blogger based in Washington. "Even pants were created with a female point of view — like Tracy Reese's pants with the sequins and prints. They were to die for."
Von Furstenberg's collection was jam-packed with slacks. She used pants under tunics and dresses or simply as the main attraction.
Nicole Miller also peppered her show with pants. She opted for flashy floral patterns and vertical stripes.
"From the cropped, tapered pant, which will be a key wardrobe staple for every woman's closet, to Nicole Miller's showing of ultra cool leggings in digital acid trails prints, which were my favorite — bring it on!" said Latease T. Lashley, founder of Creatively Speaking, a Baltimore-based public speaking company specializing in fashion commentary. "I love this trend. Less dresses, more pants for me next spring."
With designers such as Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors and Rebecca Minkoff reaching back in time for inspiration, the '60s was clearly the decade of choice for next spring.
Anne Keane, fashion director at Lucky magazine, called the '60s mod trend an "evergreen in the way that it always lends itself to fun interpretations."
Some designers — including Siriano and Zang Toi — captured the softer, more innocent feel of the decade by using solids in mostly lighter colors.
Other designers, such as Chris Benz, Walter Baker, Minkoff and Gretchen Jones, opted for more carefree, colorful, hippie-inspired clothes. Their collections used more patterns and layering.
Baker, a veteran designer, and Jones, a "Project Runway" alum, did it best. Their collections flirted with flower power for more of a hippie-chic feel. Benz's signature trademark of layering and mixing patterns appeared too cluttered. Minkoff's collection was simply a sloppy disaster.
Light and dark
Fashion blogger Ntam observed that high-end designers such as Reem Acra, Carolina Herrera, Siriano and Toi opted for lighter, paler hues such as blush, mint, sky blue, beige and cream. On the other hand, designers offering more ready-to-wear fashions — von Furstenberg, Reese, Wang, Carlos Miele — opted for brighter colors such as yellow, green, blue and purple in bolder patterns and animal prints.
From Miele's flowing trains to Nina Skarra's airy full-length dresses, sheer material was on display in New York.
BCBG MAX AZRIA showcased a number of sheer skirts with plenty of movement. Baker's W118 collection included blouses paired with sheer sleeves and neon accents. And Wang featured a number of dresses with sheer insets. Some of the insets were at the bottom of the dress and mixed with lace details.
The use of the lighter fabrics allowed intricate beading and embellishments to show, according to Ntam.
"They took on a life of their own," she said. "I felt like the beads were floating on air because they were sewn onto sheer material. When the models walked by, it looked like floating beads."
The same could be said about the bolder colors and patterns, which also came in lighter fabrics.
"The fabric was so lightweight and beautiful, I wanted to wear it right there," Ntam said.
Ethnic patterns, animal prints
The "Arise Magazine Presents: African Icons" show kicked off the trend.
A number of designers at that show, including Ozwald Boateng, included rich, colorful African tribal prints in their collections.
Boateng infused the rich patterns and colors into items that included slacks and sports jackets.
During the following days, top designers such as Reese and Miele showcased bold and often colorful pieces inspired by African culture. Both mixed the continent into their collections by using animal prints such as zebra, cheetah and leopard.
Mara Hoffman followed up her Latin American goddess-inspired collection of last February with a Hawaiian-themed collection that was equally stunning.
"I was very excited to see that menswear got a little more variety through colors and prints," Ntam said. "So gentlemen get ready to look like Eddie Murphy from 'Coming to America.' I absolutely loved the African ethnic prints in the Ozwald Boateng collection."
Runway hair this season was clean and simple, which allowed for the clothes to be the main attraction, according to Brian Oliver, a celebrity hairstylist who now works at Ipsa Salon by Nectar in Georgetown after a career of 22 years in the New York fashion industry. From flat-ironed straight hair to pulled-back buns and ponytails, simplicity was key.
"Most of the hair has been clean and simple," said Oliver, who has styled models such as Naomi Campbell, Iman, Kate Moss and Linda Evangelista, and worked for designers including Donna Karan, Michael Kors, Oscar de la Renta and Ralph Lauren. "It's that sleek, clean hair. There were some that had texture, but I can see a lot of flat-iron straight hair."
Read more about what happened at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in blog posts from The Baltimore Sun's fashion reporter John-John Williams IV and lifestyle expert Hilary Phelps at baltimoresun.com/fashion
Runway wrap-up: Top trends at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week spring 2013
Spring 2013 looks fresh with metallics and tiger prints and pants, oh my!
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