In the Market Report: “Line Drive”

Marc Jacobs Breton striped fur pullover.

I hate the word “trend” and I hate the notion of trendy. I feel these are words and concepts that are much abused, over used, and overrated. I’m old enough to know that everything old is new again and nothing is ever out of style. That being said, I can’t fight City Hall. In  the world of fashion, there are so called trends, and then there are super TRENDS. They are perennial favorites that defy the vagaries of ins and outs and are always on fashion’s radar (sometimes they are just more in your face, of the moment, and exaggerated than at other times). Case in point: stripes.

Audrey Hepburn in Saint James Breton

Whenever  I see this image of a young Audrey Hepburn in her classic Saint James Breton striped pullover, I’m reminded that there are some things that simply cannot be improved upon (though designers will keep trying- more on that later). I mean really, why would you wear a boring plain t shirt when you can wear a jaunty striped top? Certainly, it’s easy to understand why stripes are always so popular. They are season-less, appropriate for all ages, and completely unisex (well, I guess everything is nowadays). They can ‘read’ classic, nautical, and preppy, as well as zany, fashion forward, and avant garde. They can be sporty and casual, or dressed to the nines. And for those who don’t like busy prints or patterns, stripes are composed of clean lines, and in the best case scenario, are akin to modern art.

Chanel Iman in J Mendel at the Met Costume Institute Gala

Stripes have seemingly been everywhere,  especially since Marc Jacobs presented his almost entirely black and white, mod inspired spring 2013 collection, which was a study in graphic stripes. While he was not alone, his undiluted vision shown early on in the season, seemed to be THE defining moment. Not only were they seen all over runways for spring, but the ubiquitous sighting of striped clothing on men, women, children, pets, etc. both here and abroad, is testament to their ongoing popularity. While they are always a favorite, especially when  used for casual day wear, it’s been hard not to notice that stripes have turned up (in one form or another), at many high profile parties and galas this season, including the Met’s Costume Gala in celebration of ‘Punk, from Chaos to Couture’.

Fan Bingbing in Oscar de la Renta Spring 2013
at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party

Chinese star Fan Bingbing made quite an entrance when she wore Oscar de la Renta’s midnight blue and white striped strapless ball gown from Spring 2013, to the Oscars; Giovanna Battaglia could not have looked more perfect in her pink and black striped Christian Dior dress, which she wore to the dinner celebrating the new Dior boutique at Bergdorf Goodman;

Alexandra Lebenthal at the New Yorkers for Children’s Fool’s  Fete

Alexandra Lebenthal looked terrific in a vintage horizontally striped black and white jumpsuit which she wore to the10th Anniversary of New Yorkers for Children Fool’s Fete at the  Mandarin Hotel back in May. Most recently, Katie Couric wore a graphically black and white striped short dress to a the Wildlife Conservation Society gala for The Wonders of Southeast Asia at New York’s Central Park Zoo, and Beyoncé made the headlines last week, in Topshop’s horizontally striped two piece knit ensemble. FYI, neither Alexandra, nor Beyoncé, looked like prison escapees LOL, and they did not look fat in their horizontal stripes, which many feel can be difficult to wear.

Giovanna Battaglia in striped Dior dress with Julia Restoin Roitfeld

And no, stripes are not showing any signs of letting up or  fading from fashion’s view, if the resort 2014 collections, now under way, are any indication. ( Resort is a harbinger of spring, can we expect to see them come September.) There has been a hard to miss linear, graphic element, throughout many of the presentations and formal runway shows, and if anything, designers are approaching stripes more creatively, inventively, and artistically than ever. Stripes are turning up horizontally, vertically, and diagonally (sometimes in combination); they are sometimes mixed with other prints and patterns; they are being proposed for day and night; and while the combination of black and white reigns supreme, stripes in traditional navy and red, in addition to other colors, have appeared.

Thom Browne

Standouts include Marc Jacobs’ riff on the traditional Breton striped top: he added embroidery to one elongated top, used fur to fashion an over sized pullover and short coat, and added striped fur pillows as a backdrop, as if to exaggerate the point. Thom Browne, (fresh off his CFDA Award for menswear designer of the year) imbued his signature and stellar haberdashery, and unique eye catching mixes, with a more feminine approach than in past seasons, and he was one who deliriously worked stripe on stripe, down to the great looking bags and tights. Narciso Rodriquez was in a relaxed mood and the collection, predicated on graphic combinations of black and white, utilized lines and stripes artistically: the result could not have been more appealing or chic.

Narciso Rodriguez

There was a hard to miss tom boyishness to Vera Wang’s resort lineup, as exemplified by her silhouettes, and the group of black and white pin stripes with contrasting seersucker waistbands. Lisa Perry, a fashion designer known for her love affair with the mod 60’s, is an avid and serious art collector, and she is always inspired by works of art. This season, her jumping off point was a Tom Wesselmann still life with its mix of primary colors. Her collection was one of the few to make use of bright colored stripes.

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.