American designers spoke in unison during the recent Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, presenting collections for next fall and winter that were striking more for their similarities than their differences.Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
Gold's glimmer will enliven dreary fall and winter, especially in spectacular gowns such as this one by Tadashi Shoji.
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Because of that, it was easy to spot emerging trends.
Mod gained momentum, hemlines went higher, and traditional Russian and Asian apparel infused designs with a fresh new air of elegance and international sophistication.
Trapeze shapes and high-waist pants saw a stronger presence, while designers played with illusion by draping sheer, embellished fabric over dresses with fitted bodices for a demure, understated sensuality.
Narrow-over-voluminous silhouettes made inroads as the trend of long tops over skinny bottoms picked up steam.
Jumpers came back, black patent leather emerged as a must-have and wide-legged pants challenged the ubiquity of stovepipes.
Long gloves, ankle boots and stacked wedges accessorized with flair. Black tights were worn with almost everything.
With all of this going on, one could easily miss the fact that color was minimal. Black became the new black, whether worn monochromatically or -- in many cases -- with white or blue.
Brown and especially gray were strong secondary colors, and purple led the pack as the dominant accent color in shades and hues such as lilac, lavender, grape and plum.
Here's a look at eight trends from the New York runways:
Many designers incorporated kimono sleeves, obi belts, cheongsams (a long dress with high collar and slit skirt) and origami detail into outfits, borrowing liberally and sometimes literally from Asian design. Carmen Marc Valvo incorporated origami in come-hither purple pleated and stainless steel taffeta cocktail dresses. Equally alluring were Carlos Miele's kimono jackets in perforated black leather and tweed-Lurex, Ralph Rucci's chocolate alligator origami jacket and J. Mendel's use of a black satin obi trench belt to pull together a black broadtail skirt suit with patent leather trim.
Call it Kremlin chic, from voluminous fur hats to glamorized cossack coats. Soviet style influenced many designers. Badgley Mischka's plucked mink and fox coat over a cream sweater and black skirt would be right at home in Moscow's Red Square. And Vera Wang accessorized pants, skirts, tunics and jackets with leather belts with vintage Russian insignia military buckles.
Big, chunky knits
There's a definite trend toward the cozy and homespun, and super-size crocheted and knit pieces showed up frequently in men's and women's collections. The ample pieces were worn with everything from jeans to ball skirts. There will be plenty of variety come autumn, from James Coviello's long green hand-crocheted cardigan and Twinkle's oversized hand-knit cardigans to Charles Nolan's and Kai Milla's roomy cashmere sweaters.
Former CMU student Angela Keslar's penchant for affixing rosettes to nearly everything she designed last season as a Project Runway contestant was often ridiculed. But she may have the last laugh, because the little fabric blossoms are abundant in fall lines for women. Y and Kei used them to dress up the collar of a pewter angora wool coat, for example, and Zang Toi caused jaws to drop with a dramatic-exit black silk jersey goddess gown that had red roses cradled in the plunging back drape.
Fall's neutral palette is the perfect canvas for sequins, paillettes and fabrics in gold, silver, copper and bronze. The metallic hues add a luxe shimmer and complement nature's changing colors. Monique Lhuillier topped a gold draped-bodice gown with a gold metallic floral cap-sleeve bolero, while Lyn Devon's sparkly gold, gray silk beaded blouse looked hot with black pants. And for special occasions, Vivienne Tam made a fabulous gold leaf dress with a copper sequin overlay and topped it off with a gold leather jacket.
Forget this fabric's reputation as chintzy and cheap. It's back with a fresh, modern twist, reinterpreted for women -- and even men -- in softer textures and unconventional shapes for day and evening. Some of the best looks were Derek Lam's shiny gold silk lame-draped asymmetrical dress, Peter Som's petal-print lame blouses, and Tracy Reese's "paper bag" frocks and pleat-front tunics in silver lame.
Go ahead and surrender. This eggish shape isn't going away any time soon. It's big this spring and summer and even bigger going into fall, when it shows more details such as embroidery and pleats. Nicole Miller's Peru-inspired brown Lurex jacquard scarf dress exemplifies the look, as does Pegah Anvarian's navy chiffon and black lace tank dress.
It has appeared in glimpses this season. But for fall, it comes on strong as a design detail or full-on in raincoats, trapeze dresses, belts, pumps and bags. There was some white and red, but most often it was black, as in mod, futuristic coats and dresses by Abaete and Jill Stuart.Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
Purple is the key accent color for fall and looks good with black, brown and gray. Here, a purple ruffled blouse is part of an ensemble by Nanette Lepore.
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Post-Gazette fashion editor LaMont Jones can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1469.