September 2, 2008

Local fall fashion haul for womenswear 2008

Nine West's ankle boot with pleated vamp
and in-step zippers at Town Shoes stays on
trend without an early style expiry date.

It's ten hours by plane to the latest fashion trends of Paris and Milan, but today we bring it home on Vancouver by Design. We hit the mall and find out what looks have made the jump over the pond and into local shops.

Q. How were you able identify fall trends for this season?
My usual answer would be that I research on the usual garment trade websites, blogs and view the European runway shows on line and I do do that...but today a took a more shopper/consumer-centred approach. I bought the latest copy of Vogue Magazine - the September 2008 Fall bible - and hauled that mammoth magazine into Metrotown's Metropolis Shopping Centre.

Q. Why did you do that?

The main reason is I wanted to correlate the trends and hot styles put forward in Vogue and find out how it translated into the boutiques most women would shop at in Vancouver. So, essentially, I went window shopping.

Q. On which trends did you zero-in?
From my notes after perusing all 800 pages of Vogue, I identified a trio of trends that I felt would be considered relevant to women in Vancouver -- so I won't be talking about evening dresses inspired by ballerinas.

One was sculpted or shaped suits. There's a trend on the high-end side to create jacket-pant-skirt combinations that have dramatic shoulders, defined collars and waists, and skirt shapes that modernize the suit.

Q. Were you able to find anything like that?
Not at Metrotown. I was told by staff at Aritzia that the mall skews younger than Oakridge. One can find sculpted or shaped suits there but for Metropolis the answer is "NO."

Instead, we find a more traditional look at stores known for their business suits, like Jacob and Banana Republic. There, I found a much greater push towards a tailored women's suit. Not so dramatic - they strove for a feminine elegance.

At Banana Republic, I believe I saw a grey suit (pencil-striped) that borrowed much from men's tailoring. It had a hacking pocket (slightly slanted side pockets) and a jaunty ticket pocket (a tiny pocket one finds over the right side pocket). Most notable was a visible top-stitching which emulated the hand work of a tailor. So at Banana Republic and Jacob, there was a fairly conservative take on the suit. But perhaps it's my memory playing tricks on me. I haven't been able to find this suit on BR's website.

But there one new thing to report - the cropped blazer, which has been in fashion for what seems like the last decade, has taken a backseat to the longer tailored blazer.

Q. Why is that a good thing?
The cropped blazer really favoured skinny women. Because it is cropped you don't get the coverage on the backside some women would prefer.

Now, this isn't a blazer, it's outerwear, but one of the best pieces I saw today with the benefits of the on-trend look of dramatic shapes while maintaining strong traditional tailoring was a Funnel Coat by Talula Babaton.

Talula Babaton is an in-house label at Aritzia. The Funnel coat is a great coat. It's black virgin wool. It is double breasted with six on six button (all the lovely black wood buttons work on the coat). It's a longer coat so it will cover your bottom.

Better yet, it has a nice nipped waist just above the natural waist and below the bust and from there it is an A-line, flaring out from the waist.

It has a bit of swing and has a bit of shape without being a slave to trend. That's the Talula Babaton Funnel coat at Aritzia for $298.

Q. Speaking of price, how do you buy trendy clothes without it going out of style?
I think as everyone says "you should buy basic classics" -- but I see nothing wrong with looking for trend-inflected version of classics. Here's a perfect example.

SHINY as an look will be a big trend this fall. SHINY is an expensive look. The fabrics and finished cost more.

A great buy that falls into the SHINY trend is a black trench coat I saw at Zara.
It is a shorter version of the trench coat. It will cover the bottom and perhaps go mid-thigh.

It's a shiny black nylon. You're going to wear it when it rains. It has a cinched belted waist which gives it a great shape and it's very inexpensive at $99.00. It's utilitarian with style, but no so much style you can't wear it next year or the year after that.

Q. You've done SHINY. You've done SHAPELY...what other trends did you find?
I'm going to save listeners some money. I'm going to tell you about a trend I don't like because it only suits the thin and long legged. It's the wedged-heeled ankle boot.

Now, the ankle boot is not the problem. But when it's married to the more recent style of wedged heels or platform wedge heels, where the shoe has no independent heel but rather is one monolithic sole, the ankle boot becomes a really clunky shoe.

One example I saw was an ankle boot wedge sneaker in patent leather by Geox at Town Shoes. It had velcro sneaker straps and has zero elegance.

An alternative I would suggest is a 3-inch heeled ankle boot by Nine West. It's $130. It has a bit of fetish detailing with instep zippers and pleating at the VAMP - that's the top of the shoe.

It's very 80s without going too far. And it will elongate the leg rather than make it stumpy.

Q. So go for classics that are inflected with shape, shininess, and anything else?
Yes, quickly, GRAPHIC means a bold look including geometric prints.

I saw a lovely cotton, black and white, set in sleeve, fleur-de-lys dress at Club Monaco. It's a perfect balance of trend and classicism, the KATE print dress at Club Monaco for $179.

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