The Baltimore Sun

New York-- --New York's Fashion Week -- the biannual presentations by the country's top designers -- ends today, wrapping up a style vision for spring that is both breezy and tailored, long and short, pale and bold, solid and printed.

Designers showed a little bit of almost everything on their runways, giving shoppers many choices of spring styles to wear after a fall season of tights, shoe-boots and leather jackets.

Looking for a decade to channel? Spring's got several.

"I'm very excited about this spring because we've sort of got a change in silhouette, from all the baby doll and all the volume," says designer Rebecca Taylor, "to a more fitted and feminine look -- maybe slightly '40s inspired."

"It's an easy elegance," says Dannielle Romano, editor-at-large of DailyCandy.com. "It's very ladies of leisure from the 1920s."

"Everything has a '70s flair," says Lindsay Taylor Huggins, fashion market editor for Self magazine.

Color is back in a major way for spring, after several spring seasons of pale whites and creams. Some designers showed collections bursting with bold colors -- rich red, neon green, deep orange, bright yellow -- while others envisioned spring in a softer palette -- pale lime and lilac, or the faintest peaches and pinks.

Designer Nanette Lepore offered items in saturated colors, such as a fluorescent green cowl-neck top, a tangerine satin dress and a bright orange, waist-length trench coat.

Taylor showed skirts and dresses in cobalt blue, and a vibrant "strawberry," which she called "the most incredible red you've ever seen."

Pamella Roland sent models down the runway in beautiful sherbet colors. One chiffon gown, in a pale paisley print with a beaded neckline, combined soft orange, yellow and blue. Another gown subtly mixed shades of pink and peach.

Jill Stuart's colors were so pale and wispy, they appeared cloudlike.

And designer Peter Som offered a little of both pastels and brights, pairing neutrals such as heather gray and white with soft ice blues and frosted celadons -- and then showing bright yellow trims.

Romano says the opposing color trend is a real boon for spring.

"I think it's nice when we see some different direction," she says. "It's boring when everybody uses the same color palette."

Designers not only opted for differing color combinations, they also chose various lengths in their shorts, skirts and dresses.

"There's a continuation of the dress trend that we saw a lot of the past few seasons," says Suze Yalof Schwartz, executive fashion editor-at-large for Glamour magazine. "And I've got to say I love it. It looks great. There's a lot of long, flowy evening gowns."

Currently, the most popular dress style is the "Mia Farrow mini shift dress," says Huggins. Next season's will be the '70s day dress, she added.

"Which is nice, because not everybody wants to be wearing a micro-mini," she says. "But I can't really tell until the European shows whether this is going to be a short trend or a long trend. We're seeing lots of both in New York."

The same is true for skirts. Pencil skirts showed up on just about every runway, hitting just below the knee. But so did short skirts, with a little more volume.

"The emphasis is on the waist," says designer Reem Acra, who showed skirts in a bright green she called "fern" and a bold red she called "poppy," as well as skirts in sheer fabrications and pale hues such as "whipped organza," and orchid.

"Big skirts, short skirts, fitted skirts. It's sexy, young, couture classic. It's balancing the classical with the modern," Acra says.

And shorts -- which appeared on nearly every runway, as well -- are short for spring, but not quite as "hot" as the hot pants of previous springs, says Gregg Andrews, a fashion director at Nordstrom.

Some had sophisticated cuffs; others were more rounded and billowy, giving off a softer look.

"They're short trousers; that's what we're talking about," Andrews says.

As for shorts, the newest look casts them in a dressy sheen. Yalof Schwartz says some designers call that style "cocktail shorts."

Vera Wang, for example, showed a pair of classy silk cargo shorts, which came to the knee.

"She said she wanted girls to wear them out at night with a T-shirt," Yalof Schwartz says.

Designers also went for both solids and prints when crafting their visions for spring.

Jill Stuart showed mainly solids, as did Michael Kors. Diane von Furstenberg sent so many prints down the runway, the overall look was fairly confusing.

Others, such as Carolina Herrera, did a beautiful job with prints, especially florals and polka dots.

In fact, both polka dots and floral patterns seem popular for spring.

"There's a ton of floral, from dainty, itsy-bitsy to big, bold floral," says Huggins. "And I've seen polka dots everywhere. Nanette Lepore had polka dots. Carolina Herrera was huge with florals. At Reem Acra, there were a lot of florals and polka dots."

The floral trend goes along with the flowy femininity of spring, though many designers showed more tailored, muted safari looks on their runways.

Safari shirt-style dresses and belted jackets were popular at such shows as Michael Kors, Milly and Diane von Furstenberg.

Belts will be big for spring, as well, experts say. Thin belts will be in, especially in colorful patent leather, snakeskin and alligator.

"Belts are on everything from day wear to evening wear," says Huggins. "You can belt your pencil skirts. I've even seen belted evening gowns, which is actually nice. You can get more wear out of [belts]."

One common theme among all this variation: After seasons of low-waisted looks, the waistline on clothes is moving back up the body.

High-waisted looks were everywhere at the shows, from wide-leg trousers to skinny pants, to shorts and skirts.

"Fashion went as low as it could," says Andrews. "The natural thing for it to do is for it to go back up."

Some designers showed the high-waist dramatically, placing it almost near the bust line. But most displayed the higher waist in an easier, more relaxed way, right at the natural waistline.

"It's a great way to balance out a fuller hipline," Andrews says. "But women will need to try things out to find the higher waistline that works for their figure."


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