Share this article

print logo


Next fall, designers will give women the cold shoulder.

It's their way of making a statement. A fashion statement, that is.

Tops, sweaters, blouses, dresses and gowns all get the treatment - a diagonal cut here, a hacked-off sleeve there. The idea is to expose just one shoulder, whether the look is achieved casually with a chunky sweater pulled off one shoulder a la "Flashdance" or done up elegantly in an asymmetric gown.

The style, which actually gained momentum with the spring collections and will reach full throttle by fall, is just one of the trends women can brace themselves for come September.

And there are others. Forget the fact that most women haven't even figured out what they will be wearing this spring. The fashion world works way ahead of time. And after nine days of continual fashion shows staged here for retailers and media as part of Fashion Week, which ends today, established and up-and-coming designers alike have a few things in mind.

Leather has been hot, hot, hot for several seasons and it still is. But designers, knowing a woman can only use so many pairs of leather pants or leather jackets, are trying some new things. Leather as trims and accents. Leather and suede patches. Leather mixed with lace and crochet. Leather combined with blanket plaids.

And, most notably, leather used in panel skirts, alternating with vertical bands of fabric, for example - or in big blocks. A long green knit dress with leather panels on the front only. Or Kenneth Cole's aged brown leather jacket with knit sleeves, which a model wore with a matching brown leather skirt.

Wide belts, cummerbunds and corseted effects on skirts and jackets are big news here on the runways. At the very least, women can expect to see wider belts in the accessories department next fall. And belted jackets and coats made more than an occasional appearance this week.

While black always is at home on the runway, designers are pushing another palette. Browns are big. So, too, are moss and other earthy greens. Sound somber? This time around, they are paired with some unlikely suspects.

Pink or purple, anyone?

It's true, said Leatrice Eiseman, a color consultant and executive director of the Pantone Color Institute.

But it's not just any green.

"It has to be the yellow-greens - like the colors of leaves on the forest floor," said Eiseman between shows in the tents at Bryant Park, where the majority of designers unveiled their collections during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, named for its title sponsor.

Think military green, loden green, moss green and even "the dreaded olive," she said.

"Olive is a hot color right now, and it is very new with the fuchsias and purples. It is very elegant," said Eiseman.

Carolina Herrera, for example, opened her show with a loden green trench coat layered over violet.

Look, too, for tweeds, plaids and houndstooth checks in traditional colors and some new ones.

Designer Cynthia Steffe showed houndstooth in shades of brown, for example, as well as marigold tartan plaids. Kenneth Cole opted for violet houndstooth.

Marilyn Heston, a fashion publicist from Los Angeles who attended the shows, noted the strong trend toward chocolate browns for fall, as well as the popularity of cognac-hued leathers. Black, on the other hand, will continue to be strong, she added.

And, like the one-shoulder looks, ornamentation and embellishment also continue from last season, "but it's a little more subdued," said Tom Julian, trend analyst for Fallon Worldwide in New York City.

Evening fabrics may have just a hint of shimmer, for example.

Julian also noted that the mixes of fabrics are something to watch for come fall. Leather with lace. Suede with fur. Cashmere with something woven.

That's what makes things look new.

Because of a slowing economy, designers also are keeping an eye on reality. Unlike past seasons, no one is showing techno looks (ultra shiny) anymore, said Julian.

Instead there's warmth and comfort to the fabrics.

Not that runway looks could be called ordinary. It's really a mix, said Julian.

"You can get sexy and stunning, but we're also seeing simple and salable," he said.

Look, too, next fall for the return of the cowl neckline, which includes garments that drape down the back in addition to those that billow in front.

There's a lot of draping going on - both the hard-edged, architectural-inspired kind and the soft, feminine type, said Julian.

Designers also seem to be smitten with tuxedos for women. The last model in the BCBG fashion show wore a black wool tuxedo jacket over a black silk chiffon and leather flounce dress, for example.

And designer Carmen Marc Valvo opened his show with a full-length black wool sateen tuxedo jacket layered over tailored pants.

Military influences are everywhere as well, from the olive green color palette to the endless array of belted "officer" jackets on the runways.

Not that all the trend-trackers gathered here are enthusiastically embracing all of the trends. L.A.'s Heston, for one, is tired of the cold-shoulder look.

"It bugs me; it's too affected," she said.

Not that the junior market isn't having a little fun with the trend.

During the Girls Rule! fashion show, which for 14 seasons has featured the work of young designers working in the teenage market, the collection known as Guest List featured a hand-knitted tube top, denim hipster pants and a long scarf worn with . . . a single arm-warmer.

One bare arm. One covered arm. Who ever said fashion has to be serious?


One-shoulder looks

Wide belts

Cowl or draped necklines

Loden green and violet (together)

Browns of all shades

Military influences

Knee-high boots with thin high heels


Low-key beaded fabrics

Houndstooth checks and plaids

There are no comments - be the first to comment