Fashion notes: Turtlenecks turn heads at New York Fashion Week

The runway trends at this year's NYFW.

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There’s one look that summed up this year’s New York Fashion Week, for me: Karen Walker’s collared sweater printed with Roman clocks, worn with a pair of plaid culottes.

Maybe there comes a point where style references to past eras surpass being mere nods or hints, instead becoming overall themes of a collection.

For the most part, this is what happened at NYFW, as old elements were recycled on a wholesale level. Bell-bottoms inspired by the 1970s, cowboy fringing, prairie-girl paisleys – the whole shebang. Classic American sportswear with traditional design elements reigned on the runways, while progressive and edgy looks took a back seat.

Sadly, no autumn/winter collections were outstandingly innovative – there was more buzz about the new generation of front-rowers, such as North West and the Beckham kids, than about the talent of the designers. Still, some elements stood out. I’m talking design-wise, not about celebrity appearances such as Naomi Campbell’s finale walk for Zac Posen.

Two themes were prominent: Old Western undertones and Victorian vibes. While Custo Barcelona and Mara Hoffman portrayed Aztec prints, ­Rebecca Minkoff’s collection had a clear country-girl premise; BCBG Max Azria’s clothes could be termed “upscale Navajo”. On the contrary, labels like Reem Acra, Rodarte, Vivienne Tam and Zimmermann drew inspiration from a regal standpoint, showing high lace necklines and billowy cuffed chiffon sleeves.

With almost every designer incorporating it some way or another in their collections, it’s clear the turtleneck is making a major comeback. At DKNY, they were pushed up and exaggerated, hitting the chins of models; at Alexander Wang they tied in with the gothic theme, featuring leather and studs. Jill Stuart and Tracy Reese layered turtlenecks under sleeveless dresses, and at BCBG Max Azria’s show, every model wore a turtleneck, some in dreamy hues of soft grey and winter white.

While gingham was a go-to print for spring, plaids were ever present on the runways, from Altuzarra’s orange-gold-tone fur collar plaid coat to Custo Barcelona’s head-to-toe clashing plaid looks. Even Carolina Herrera showed a fur-mixed-with-plaid sweater-and-skirt set, and Red Valentino combined plaid shirts with floral dresses.

A fairly fresh trouser silhouette made its rounds, evidently becoming the it-pant for next season. I’m talking about culottes. Victoria Beckham created them in crisp white, while Karen Walker featured a printed pair. Tommy Hilfiger’s plaid and denim culottes were belted and cropped right below the knee, while Tibi’s were slightly longer and more ladylike, in charming shades of sky blue, lavender, white and nude, as well as a beige knit number.

In outerwear, we saw a lot of robe-type wrap coats from designers like Beckham, Derek Lam and Phillip Lim, perhaps a continuation from past seasons’ pyjama-cut trends. An even more common sight, as seen in the collections of Prabal Gurung, Wes Gordon and Jason Wu, was the thigh-high side-slit, a trademark of Angelina Jolie after a certain leggy pose of hers was mass circulated (wow, time flies) three years ago.

Aside from a few true show-stoppers (such as Tory Burch’s opening Oriental rug-like camel coat), New York, you disappointed. Hopefully the European runways will exhibit more excitement in the coming weeks.

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