I always love attending Neiman Marcus’s bi-annual Accessories Preview hosted by Sandra Wilson and Ken Downing. Held in a terraced duplex suite at the Chambers Hotel, it is always highly visual, informative, and filled with exceptionally well thought out and well edited merchandise: a collaboration of Sandra Wilson, the store’s Accessories Fashion Director, and Ken Downing, the longtime visual guru who has recently added another title to his resume, that of Senior Vice President, Fashion Direction, replacing the beloved Joan Kaner.
(Who else but Ken would add turquoise color extract to the toilet water in order to create a perfect visual setting in which to showcase jewels and things?)
Yesterday I had the pleasure of reviewing NM’s picks for spring 2007 and given the very un-fall like balmy weather, it felt as if we were in the throes of spring even though the calendar says it’s December.
So, what is the most important message of the coming season? According to Mr. Downing, it is silver. “Silver and silver metallic were all over the runways. Gold and platino were seen in New York but by the time we got to Italy, silver was really the strongest message.” What else? “Shine! Not only in metallics but in patents, and satin for day. There is less embellishment on clothes but more surface interest in fabrics used for clothing or as accessories.”
“And definitely, what every fashionista is going to have is a clear bag. The newest bag shape is the clutch. It’s so important and works with all the dresses we saw on the runway. I love the idea of a clutch in a tote. That’s really the way to do it! We also like the elongated tote, the ‘North- South’ shape.”
Other items on the Neiman Marcus ‘hit list’ (from highly sought after brands like Gucci, Chanel, Manolo Blahnik, Ferragamo, Prada, Stella McCartney, David Yurman, Christian Dior, Jose Barrera, Stephen Dweck, Fendi, Be & D, Michael Kors, Dolce & Gabbana) include peep toed and snub toed shoes, thick heels with architectural interest, wedge soles, the pointy toed flat, ‘statement’ rings, larger and shorter (double strand) beads, the wide belt, black and white.
Of course, it was hard not to notice that the very first room was filled with my favorite: animal patterns (leopard, zebra, and snakesin). As Ken sees it, “Leopard is a neutral. It’s always chic. It’s great on everything (home décor, clothing, accessories), and animal patterns will carry into the fall season.”
Speaking of fall, I was glad Ken brought it up since the fall 2007 shows are only a few months away and that’s certainly what is on my mind. Ken believes that the entire range of saffron and yellow will be big. “Yellow looks really new to me.” Also, blues to greens. “Resort was really defined by all the sea glass colors that took on the appearance of washed glass when it arrives on shore after being out to sea.”
He continued, “Silver is the story for spring (everybody needs SOMETHING in silver), but as we head into the fall season, look for new metals and metallics in the form of bronzes, rose gold, copper.”
We are feeling that charcoal gray, pewter, gunmetal, copper, and rose gold will be huge for fall. Rose gold is a beautifully flattering tone and works well with chocolate and brown.”
“From what we’re hearing early on, I think the dress is going to continue and we’ll see a return of the dress and coat combination. I think there will be a real sophistication and polish on the runways which is what we saw a lot of for spring. The idea of the suit, matched pieces being worn together”. In a word, ‘ladylike’. It was very much defined by what we saw at Oscar de la Renta for spring, the way he showed those short dresses with a flat shoe. It’s all about the idea of effortless chic.”
Coincidentally (or maybe not), the upcoming exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, which opens on December 12th, revolves around the style of American fashion icon, Nan Kempner, and is called “Nan Kempner: American Chic”. Ken agreed that this would prove to be highly inspirational for many designers going forward. Of course, I noted that Nan was known to wear a lot of European haute couture (including Yves St. Laurent and Valentino), but Ken allowed that she did so with an American attitude.
Speaking of ‘all American’, what about jeans. Is there life after the skinny jean now that it’s been done to death? Ken believes that the skinny jean will not disappear but look for the ‘boyfriend’ jean to emerge. Although in his opinion, the newness in denim has less to do with silhouette than color. Look for colored, even brightly colored denim.