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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Part two of stylist Haidee Findlay-Levin's tips for fall...

FACE THE DARKNESS
Okay, I know I said earlier that color is back for fall. And it is, but so is black. Stop your groaning—the black dress never looked better. It was skillfully laser-cut at Balenciaga (left), skimmed the body at Sophia Kokosalaki and draped to the floor at Junya Watanabe. It was in divine Spanish lace at Givenchy and heavy tablecloth lace at Prada. The opening dress at Alexander McQueen, made from layers and layers of soft tulle, was reminiscent of a black crow, though it was hardly the only exquisitely gothic dress in the collection. The mohair-lace dress stretched over layers of tulle, like one of Degas’ ballerinas in silhouette, was especially to-die-for. But perhaps the most exquisite black dresses walked Lanvin's runway; my two favorites were a wet-look wrap dress and a one-shouldered silk satin shift with a heavy fur cuff on its one side.

GET A BLACK EYE
Brace yourself for black eyes this fall. And I'm not talking gobs of Amy Winehouse eyeliner, no matter how well she sang at the Fendi store launch party during Paris Fashion Week. I'm talking kohl eyes, the classic kind found at Givenchy, as well as the perfect cat eyes at Balenciaga. (When replicating, please don’t get carried away like one recent fashion show attendee who not only completely painted his face white—yes, he's male—but dons a Shirley Temple wig.) Blackened eyes do require a nude or beige mouth, like the kind found at Rick Owens, but if you have to have a layer on your lips, go all the way with ink-black glossy lips like those at Yves Saint Laurent.

FADE TO GRAY
If goth isn’t your thing, choose from the endless permutations of gray seen on the runways: slate, charcoal, heather, lilac and mauve. Junya Watanabe (left) committed fully to a collection of no-color to illustrate his deft cutting and draping, taking it so far as to completely wrap the girls' heads and faces in sheer gray fabric with mini-boxes piled high on their heads, to sculptural effect.

RIDE THE PONY
With the severity of cut this season, and the attention paid to minimalism and the back, the only hair to wear is a ponytail. Not the high, Blonde Ambition version, but a simple ponytail worn on the side and secured at the nape of the neck. Miu Miu even showed the ponytail peeking out of neoprene swim caps. The only other acceptable version would be a small knot or chignon, also worn low and tight. So no more Barbie hair or updos. And please no more big Oscar hair—ever!

TURN LOOSE
This has been one of the most creative seasons for pants in ages, with designers really experimenting with fullness. The best baggy pants came from Louis Vuitton, especially when slightly drop-waisted and pleated. Those in shiny black leather with a slightly pegged leg were absolutely stunning, reminiscent of that Grace Jones/Thierry Mugler/Claude Montana era. My other favorites were over at Yves Saint Laurent, shown slightly cropped and higher in the waist. Haider Ackermann pushed his baggy pants high above the knee, like puffy shorts worn over leather leggings. There were Houri trousers in velvet devoré, as well as printed chiffon versions, at John Galliano, and narrow gray flannel pant-skirts at Junya Watanabe, which ended in an extremely low crotch. Meanwhile, at both Givenchy and Alexander McQueen, pants were skinny, black and high-wasted and mostly in leather or brocade. Maison Martin Margiela went super-sexy and offered leather pants complete with zippers snaking up the back of the leg like seamed stockings. And how can we ignore his other offering, the asymmetric one-legged bodysuit in a multitude of prints?

DROP YOUR SKIRTS
I know it seems passé to talk skirt lengths in this day and age, but here it is: skirt lengths will definitely drop. I'm not talking red-carpet gowns here, but floor-grazing, skinny column dresses at Sophia Kokosalaki, which save their intricate detail for the collar. There was also the black dress that opened her show, seemingly suspended by a single diagonal strap and falling well below the knee. Dries Van Noten, too, showed high-necked column dresses that ended mid-calf, just short of ankle socks and heavy strappy sandals. At Louis Vuitton there were some knee-length bell skirts, but it was all about ballerina-length dirndls that stood away from the hips, while at Lanvin (left) the length was kept just above the knee with sexy and tight hobble skirts made up of bands of horizontal ribbon.

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