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Recession Fashion Now Couture

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Soiled PantsHow the recession makes us rethink the concept of luxury

Hard times call for radical minds.

So says WGSN’s Juliet Warkentin speaking at Hong Kong Fashion Week, where the hot topic was street-wear for 2010. The fashion-trend forecasters at WGSN work in two-year cycles, observing everything from what people wear on the streets of global cities to images in movies, art, and culture. Warkentin, a former editor of Marie Claire, UK, is WGSN’s senior content contact for several global brands. And she made some pretty exciting, spot-on predictions.

The most notable thing about trend forecasts in the past year, WGSN’s in particular, is that they tend to have greater similarities across seasons than ever before. Many of the forecasts for Autumn/Winter 2010 and 2011 undoubtedly hold true for Spring/Summer 2010 as shown in the collection previews at Hong Kong Fashion Week.

This season’s fashion is edgy and offhand—exactly what next season’s trend has been predicted to be. Perhaps, people are now less inclined to switch entire wardrobes as the seasons change. Less change, less expense.

WGSN predicts clothes that have a worn-in, vintage, feel. “As you go into a future of uncertainly, people want to connect a little bit more to their own heritage,” Warkentin says. People will, quite logically, want to recall a time when life was more prosperous. Hence, WGSN predicts the return of the ‘80s silhouette, although made more modern by softer, sculptural tailoring.

Luxury is no longer what it was a decade ago. According to Warkentin, today’s luxurious fashion is simple and comfortable, yet expertly designed.

For women’s wear, Warkentin predicts “sculptural draping that maintains femininity.” For men, she says relaxed, even work-soiled styling will be in vogue.

For casual wear, she promises, “They will draw their inspiration from the artisan’s wardrobe; simple, edited, timeless design that maintains an arts-andcrafts aesthetic.”

“A thrown-together look will be popular,” she says. “It will be eclectic, which reflects a recession where you work with whatever pieces you have.” She also forecasts a return to monochromes.

Vivienne Westwood
The Vivienne Westwood Spring/Summer 2010 Collection at Hong Kong Fashion Week proves WGSN’s forecasts to be right on the money. Dame Vivienne is usually extravagant. But, this year, her creations are relatively subdued; with the occasional bursts of color just to remind us that she is still the doyenne of punk.

For men’s casuals, Warkentin’s prediction of worksoiled styling was evident. (Faux) work-soiled fabrics make their way into Westwood men’s pants and shorts. The palettes are kept to reds and oranges.

In what can be described as a Lolita dress circa 2010, the fabric is simple: black doodles on stark white. A knotted shoulder strap on one side gives the piece more edge. The model walks down the catwalk with a wrap that’s more towel than shawl. Come to think of it, it just may BE a towel! If that isn’t recession-proof accessorizing, what is?

Passionate recyclers will like the new Westwood hat. Perforated cardboard, painted-over... or not, with shapes punched into the brim for some quaint drama. The hat tops off an ’80s Madonna (Maybe even Cyndi Lauper!) outfit. What makes it 2010 is, in Warkentin’s words, its artsand-crafts aesthetic; notable in do-it-yourself necklaces and potentially-DIY prints.

The thrown-together look is embodied by a scarf top (actually, scarves) that will make you want to go through all your old, tacky scarves to experiment at creating couture, albeit DIY. Hey, hard times etcetera.

Moiselle’s Spring/Summer 2010 Collection also reflects WGSN’s predictions. Artsy, paint-spattered prints on gossamer fabric are present in one dress. Simple from afar, but look closer and you will marvel at the expert draping. The twisting transition from bodice to bottom looks (but is far from) effortless.

In one piece, sequins provide an unexpected counterpoint, popping out beneath the twisted lines of fauxworn, almost industrial prints that make their way onto soft, luxurious fabric. As Warkentin points out, “There is a huge amount of focus on surfaces right now.” Pastel accents showing unfinished edges add yet another note of texture and complete the eclectic look. This is, beyond question, a girlfriend dress. (Meaning, a man will never understand why you bought it, but it will mark you as a trendsetter among your girlfriends.)

The Moiselle Collection also features a vintage halter dress for evening, echoing Warkentin’s prediction of nostalgia fashion. It was in sustainable fabric, yes, but it also had a neckline bedecked in (faux) jewels, as if telling the recession to go hang.

This summer, radical designing minds have indeed come up unprecedented levels of eclecticism.

Images: HKTDC
Print ed: 05/10


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