Join the “Pep (Lum)” Rally

H&M black leather  peplum top $59.95

Nowadays, there are fewer and fewer hard and fast rules, and increasingly, there are often many opposing directions fashion will take at any one moment in time. But, after each round of fashion shows, a few major (and minor) themes will emerge and crystallize and we know instantly what store windows, store racks, store advertisements, magazine editorials, etc., will look like as the new season gets under way.

I personally deplore the word ‘trend’ (as well as the notion of it), and I don’t think chasing trends, or being fixated on them, has anything at all to do with owning great personal style (far from it). But like it or not, trends do exist (I prefer to call them themes), and retailers, members of the press, bloggers, etc., are always keeping a watchful eye out for the best of the best. This was the subject of an article in The New York Times’ Thursday Styles, August 23, “Freedom of Choice” by Ruth La Ferla.

The good news is that what starts out as rarefied, illusive, unaffordable, and seemingly unattainable (except to all but an elite few), inevitably finds its way into the mainstream. The bad news is that by the time it becomes nauseatingly ubiquitous (and available at JC Penny- LOL), it has lost its cache and you may not want it any more. Case in point: “The Peplum”.

Jil Sander Spring 2011 RTW

Peplum fever has overtaken the world (unless you’re living under a rock, I assume you’ve noticed). Of course, peplums are nothing new. They have been around for centuries, are routed in fashion history, and have long been associated with all things haute couture, stodgy, and old world. That is, until Raf Simons single handily proved otherwise; dusting them off and showing how modern, relevant, and dare I say, hip, they could be. For his spring ready-to-wear 2011 collection for Jil Sander, he featured peplums and peplum belts in arresting colors: hot pink, royal blue, and orange, often affixed to full legged pants or floor length lean skirts, and more often than not, they were paired with unfussy, simple and minimalistic tees, shirts, and boxy jackets. And, it seems that ever since, designers have been intent on proving they too could put their own youthful, up, to-the-minute spin on peplums.

Lanvin peplum jacket

Talk about going from the sublime to the ridiculous. Currently for fall 2012, peplums are available in stores and on websites, in a myriad of incarnations; there are peplum belts, peplums tops, peplum jackets, peplum dresses, peplum coats. They are available at all price points, from high fashion labels like Lanvin and Alexander McQueen, down to Forever 21( ) and H&M ( ), and everything in between.

Speaking of which, one of the fashion insiders Ruth La Ferla interviewed for her article, Garance Dore, (the award winning street photographer and blogger), revealed her fondness for menswear inspired matched pantsuits and peplums, “especially those at Lanvin”. She admitted, “I already have maybe two peplum styles in my wardrobe. They are one thing I think will not go out of fashion”. (I agree, but make sure they suit your body type and your style). A few weeks ago, as I was strolling the aisles of H&M on lower 5th Avenue (I was drawn to the peplum tops in the window), I spotted Ms. Gare along with her companion and fellow street photographer Scott Schuman (The Sartorialist), with an adorable little girl in tow, perusing the aisles. I couldn’t help but overhear her gleefully exclaiming, “peplums!” I don’t know whether or not she purchased anything at this store, but I actually walked away with a chic fitted black peplum jacket ($59.95) and a black short sleeved peplum top ($34.95). Unfortunately, the black leather sleeveless version was long sold out.



Ernest Schmatolla is publisher of Lookonline since 1994. It is the longest running fashion site on the Internet.

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