Anything but Basic, Brown Is the New Black

From Associated Press

It's fall's hottest hue, so don't just call it brown. If it's warm, call it toast; earthy, deem it mushroom; luxurious, label it sable.

Calvin Klein's run of brown includes luscious color names such as coffee bean, chocolate and walnut.

Many a recent season has begun on the premise that brown will chase black on the popularity chart. This year, it's full of promise because brown, in its deepest, richest tones, is perfectly suited to the plushness of fall's textures, including suede, leather, mohair and shearling.

Just be sure your makeup palette will match.

"When you wear brown near your face, you need to bring up more reds and corals in your makeup so you don't look washed out," says Nancy Husted, fashion director for Neiman Marcus in Denver.

Adrienne Vittadini has created luxurious knit dressing in shades of nutmeg, chocolate and mocha. Yarns are lambswool and Angora blends, mohair and wool. Cabled tunics are to mix and match with woven trousers and jersey knit pants, around $200 apiece.

"When we saw brown on the runways, it was so rich," recalls David Nutterfield, fashion director for I. Magnin in San Francisco.

Maybe that's why the specialty store featured brown on the cover of its fall catalogue in the form of a classic Giorgio Armani wool pants suit and silk blouse with matching suede gloves.

"We're seeing it in a lot of different shades, but every single shade is rich," Nutterfield says. "They're true browns, not muted, not washed out."

Husted agrees.

"It's coffee; it's chocolate. The colors and tones in the brown family are running the gamut," she says. "Every season you see a small smattering of it, but this season the focus is on the different shades of brown."

On different moods, too. Brown ranges from velveteen for evening to tweeds for a country weekend. A brown leather jacket offers an updated alternative to black. Look for funky brown mini kilts and long, slinky charmeuse slips.

"Animal prints, fake furs and menswear styles made a hit on runways for fall, and brown mixes well with all of those messages," says Phillip Monaghan, executive vice president of marketing for Express stores in Columbus, Ohio.

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