Standout New York Fashion Week trends: shirtdresses, flare for the leg and a serious orange crush

There were no seasonal trends coming out of the recently wrapped round of New York Fashion Week shows. But don’t panic. It’s not because the wheels somehow fell off the fashion bus, dooming us to a future of wearing sackcloth and ashes.

It’s simply because the fashion industry is in the middle of a grand experiment with the see now / buy now fashion-show format — that is, presenting collections the consumer can buy now instead of four to six months from now.

The result is that while some designers opted to present fall/winter 2016 wares, others followed the traditional route of showing spring/summer 2017 pieces — and some showed a little bit of both.

That being said, as the echo of the final footfall on the catwalk fades away, we’ve noticed that a few things — a color here, a silhouette or a fabrication there — seemed to crop up more than others during fashion week, though not in a way that can be tied to a seasonal offering. Here they are.

Crushing on Orange

The runways were a jelly-bean-bowl full of eye-catching color, much of it in the form of spring-appropriate florals. But it didn’t take long to notice that the spinning catwalk color wheel of lemon yellows, emerald greens and royal purples had a deep bench of oranges. Christian Siriano’s Isle of Capri collection offered several bright orange pieces — including a satin dress with ruffle accents at the arms — inspired by citrus-striped beach umbrellas.

Tory Burch’s East Coast Meets West Coast spring/summer 2017 collection started with preppy maritime motifs (think sailboat graphics and braided rope prints, bright greens and navy blues) and ended with something that felt more sand-between-your-toes bohemian (flowy white batik-printed tops and dresses) but unified by shades of orange that ranged from road-cone bright (on an eyelet patterned dress) to pale sherbet surf shorts.

And Victoria Beckham’s orange crush was slightly more literal — thanks to a series of crushed velvet dresses, including several in the distinctive hue. 

Shirtdresses step it up

The shirtdress is hardly a garment known to inspire enthusiasm — what with its traditionally loose-fitting shape and men’s-dress-shirt-inspired details — but several brands found ways to inject a little excitement into the silhouette. Under the creative direction of Zac Posen, Brooks Brothers’ spring/summer 2017 collection includes an elevated take on the classic in eyelet cotton lace and cinched at the waist. At Altuzarra, where the designer cited David Lynch’s 1990 film “Wild at Heart” as inspiration, it was served up in crinkly, pale turquoise gingham with ruffles at the cuffs and hem, with one version styled with a python patterned trench coat embroidered with cherries that made it as smolderingly sexy as anything we’d seen come down the catwalk all week.

Alexander Wang’s take on the shirtdress — all but lost in the shuffle of wetsuit inspired, neon-trimmed dresses and pastel sweatshirts emblazoned with palm trees accompanied by the words “mind detergent” — was a knee-length wrap dress in a pale blue shirting-stripe fabric with a left leg slit up to the hip bone and a deep V of cleavage framed in a white contrasting button placket with a detachable collar detail.

A flare for the leg

There was a lot of excess fabric to be found in the knee-to-ankle neighborhood this time around from Rodarte’s pastoral punk pieces (leather, Elvis-worthy jackets paired with flared trousers embellished with safety-pin sides-seam details) to high-waisted, generously cuffed trousers at Diane von Furstenberg that new chief creative officer Jonathan Saunders (in a strong debut for the label) — singled out as one of his favorite pieces in the collection.

Ralph Lauren, who shut down a stretch of Madison Avenue so that he could use the façade of his flagship store there as the backdrop for his first-ever runway-to-retail collection, included an assortment of trousers (and more than a few dressers) with flared legs that grazed the sidewalk, some in purple silk, others in basic black or white and bearing the label’s familiar Southwest-inspired designs. 

In the right hands, more fabric can actually be sexier and more focus-pulling than less, and that was the case with the spring/summer 2017 collection Brandon Maxwell showed at the Russian Tea Room that, in addition to gorgeous mini dresses and gowns destined for a future red carpet engagement, included a selection of super-flared pants, jumpsuits and layered bell bottoms that somehow just fit perfectly with the show’s vibe of classy clothes for the empowered woman.  

See Now / Buy Now

In a social-media-fueled, instant-gratification culture, the runway show has become less and less about presenting collections to retail buyers to stock in their stores at some future date and more and more about presenting them directly to potential customers. And, while a handful of labels have experimented with the see now / buy now concept in various ways in the past (most notably British luxury brand Burberry), the number of designers throwing their (purchasable now) hats into the ring this season suggests it's only going to become more prevalent.

The labels showing immediately available ‎collections included Tom Ford (’70s-influenced luxury leather, velvet and sequins), Tommy Hilfiger (nautical Americana), Ralph Lauren (Southwestern luxe), and Thakoon’s wearable homage to the grit and glamour of New York City.

It wasn’t just the luxury labels playing in the buy-now sandbox either. Gap Inc.’s Banana Republic brand, which presented an India-inspired collection, made a baker’s dozen of women's spring 2017 pieces (curated by Banana Republic style ambassador Olivia Palermo) available for purchase online and at its Flatiron flagship in New York during its presentation. The prices ranged from $68 for an asymmetrical-band floral top to $448 for a cropped suede moto jacket.

Proof that the luxury of getting wha‎t you want the minute you see it doesn't have to come with a luxury price tag.

For more musings on all things fashion and style, follow me @ARTschorn.

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