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New York Fashion Week provides insights

Let the spring trend spotting begin

NEW YORK — When Fashion Week attendees are not trying to compete for attention in outlandish clothes, be the first to spot a celebrity in the audience, or hop to a better seat when no one is looking, they’re playing a continual, and sometimes silly, game of trend spotting. For example, on Tuesday morning, while I was wearing pink pants and spotting John Legend in the audience of the Badgley Mischka show, I started compiling a list of trends for Spring/Summer 2014 in my head to pass the time. And yes, I was really wearing pink slacks.

The truth about trends at New York Fashion Week is that they’re easier to come by than the free electronic cigarettes and Juicy Couture perfume samples being pushed in your face on Columbus Avenue. When hundreds of designers show their clothes in the span of seven days, there is bound to be overlap. Some of it is purely coincidental, some of it the indication of a sea change in the way that we’ll be dressing next year.

While I was scribbling trends in my notebook, such as jewel-encrusted details, perforated and laser-cut leather, hues of ocean blue, fringe, and so on, it hit me that there has been a softening of clothing on the catwalk. For Fall/Winter 2013, designers encased women in leather armor and dark colors. It felt protective, defensive, and fur details cocooned them even further. The pendulum seems to have swung back for Spring/Summer 2014. It’s freer, open, and leaning toward white.

Mark Von Holden/Getty Images

White

  • White is not news, of course, when it comes to summer trends. It’s just a thing that we all do — or consider doing. But I’ll stick my neck out on this one and call it an actual trend because runways were awash with endless white slouchy trousers, structured dresses, and loose skirts, pieces shoppers might actually buy. I could fill this entire article with the names of designers who began their shows with a palate-cleansing parade of white. Some of it is the color of an eggshell, some if it has a whisper of pink. Regardless, it’s like a deep, relaxing sigh after last season’s steely mentality.

  • Pictured, The Jeremy Laing show was one of many to be awash in white.


Brian Ach/Getty Images

White and black

  • It’s not black and white, because white is the dominant color, and it comes in all styles, fits, and patterns. It can take the form of the white-and-black kimono-style poncho at Altuzarra, incredibly intricate dresses at Ohne Titel, or the simple white romper with black zipper at Jeremy Laing. Diane von Furstenberg showed her version in a graphic print, as did Alice + Olivia and Edun.

  • Pictured, Edun was among a large number of designers to feature white and black on the runway.

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

The crop top

  • I think every woman in America who is not a professional model would be thrilled to start a bonfire made entirely of crop tops, but designers aren’t having it. The maligned half-shirt of last summer is back in force on the runways this week. You can start sending those angry letters to Rag & Bone, Jill Stuart, and Alexander Wang, Helmut Lang . . . well, to pretty much anyone showing in New York this week.

  • Pictured, a crop top from Jill Stuart.

Peter Michael Dills/Getty Images

The sophisticated floral

  • Rebecca Taylor showed delicate flowers resembling a soft watercolor painting on chiffon. Prabal Gurung used his botanicals both as subtle details and bold graphic elements on PVC raincoats. Tory Burch embroidered hers on white cotton dresses, pants, and tops. Tracy Reese, who recently dressed first lady Michelle Obama, managed a trifecta of trends at her Sunday show. She sent a black and white floral dress with a crop top down the runway.

  • Pictured, a floral design from Prabal Gurung.

Peter Michael Dills/Getty Images

The 1990s

  • The minimalism! The branding! The color-blocking! The return of Naomi Campbell to the runway! All of these exclamation-point-worthy elements have been simmering and are now beginning to hit a boil. Fashion editors flipped when they saw Alexander Wang put his name all over his clothes, and when the same thing happened the next day at DKNY, a frenzy ensued. Christian Siriano color-blocked florals, while Rebecca Taylor and Robert Geller color-blocked in more traditional ways. Meanwhile, designers such as Jason Wu and Victoria Beckham played with neutrals, more black and white, and less-fussy construction.

  • Pictured, it was easy to match the designer with the fashions at the DKNY show.

Christopher Muther can be reached at christopher.muther@globe.com.
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