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As Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week begins, the fashion forecast looks tropical

Sketches from the world's top designers show a movement for spring 2014 collections toward island prints, airy fabrics and flowy silhouettes — a stark change from the darker hues and overarching Russian themes found in the fall collections shown in February.

When models hit the New York runways beginning Sept. 5 for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, many will wear garments with decidedly tropical influences.

The islands inspired Annapolis native and "Project Runway" alum Christian Siriano's collection, for example. Siriano will unveil his collection Sept. 7 at Eyebeam Atelier in New York City.

Designer Mara Hoffman, who typically deals in ethnic prints each season, is also focusing on the tropics.

"I call this collection 'a gang of rainbow warriors,' " says Hoffman, who showcases Sept. 7 in Lincoln Center. "If there were ever a gang that worshipped rainbows, this is what they would wear." Expect a strong South American focus and a multitude of colors. Hoffman promises a "vibrant palette of prints" and "playful silhouettes in whimsical chiffons and lightweight jerseys."

David Hart, a menswear designer originally from Severna Park whose collections are now sold at retailers such as Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale's, Saks Fifth Avenue and Fred Segal Finery, alluded to an island theme with the invitation for his spring collection, which he'll showcase Sept. 5 in New York. The colorful image of a Hawaiian hula dancer comes with the message: "Aloha from David Hart."

Hart said, "For my spring 2014 collection, I was inspired by the golden age of travel. Specifically, Hawaiian tourism from the late '50s and early '60s."

Tracy Reese, fresh from another Michelle Obama seal of approval, will turn to Afro-Cuban influences for her collection, which she unveils Sept. 8 at Lincoln Center.

Reese promises to balance feminine styles and modern sportswear.

"The collection is rich in detail, including leather and raffia embroideries and authentic athletic accents," according to Reese. "Silhouettes range from crop-tops paired with full midi-skirts and cropped trousers to signature fit and flare frocks. Textile highlights include geometric laces, tribal embroideries and bonded technical knits."

This collection also will include prints, which are a hallmark of Reese, mixed with gingham and window pane, tropical floral placements and tribal geometrics. Colors will include pinks, blues, greens and ochre. The Afro-Cuban influence will truly be felt in the form of a lapis and scarlet floral flyaway frock with back ruffle detail, and a scarlet and black striped flyaway tee.

The looks "express the effortless style of the modern woman who is sexy, assured and contemporary," Reese says.

J. Mendel, which will showcase Sept. 11 in Lincoln Center, was inspired by the notion of "tropical alchemy," according to creative director Gilles Mendel.

"I wanted to recast the J. Mendel woman as a highly cultivated enchantress of the urban jungle," Mendel said.

While the tropical trend will dominate many runways, not every designer got swept up in the call of the islands.

Art and nature will intersect for the BCBG Max Azria collection, which will showcase Sept. 5 at Lincoln Center.

"We were inspired by nature and modern art," according to Lubov Azria, chief creative officer for the brand. "Contemporary art inspired the choice of vivid colors, while more muted tones glean inspiration from the natural beauty of the world around us."

Herve Leger by Max Azria will have a historical feel.

"Different cultural and geological references inspire the collection as seen in ancient tribes and tradition," according to Azria, who also serves as chief creative officer for this collection. His collection will show Sept. 7 in Lincoln Center.

Rebecca Taylor, who also showcases Sept. 7, was inspired by modern romanticism. Expect intricate details that are reminiscent of early American workwear with a faint hint of femininity.

Taylor's palette will be highlighted by pale gray and sage green. Stronger base colors include cayenne and nude, with robin's egg blue.

Light fabrics will dominate the collection.

"Airy, crisp white poplin shirting and geo eyelet are layered with tactile matelasse, laminated knit, and crystal-encrusted lace," according to Taylor.


Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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