The ‘Next Big Thing’: (From Urban Chic to Urban Cowboy):

Summer has unofficially come to an end, fall merchandise has hit the stores, and Spring/ Summer 2004 New York Fashion Week is upon us. Take note before you start going crazy over all the ladylike tweeds, hourglass retro suits, and structured handbags that define this season. In the same way one can remark, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute- it will change”, the same can be said of fashion. ‘Urban Chic’ may well be the call of the day, but “Urban Cowboy” may be a more appropriate way to sum up the upcoming round of shows. Hardly surprising- since Western and cowboy themed clothing and accessories were seen on many of the runways of the most influential menswear designers when they unveiled their Spring and Summer 2004 collections in Paris and Milan this past July (not the least of which were Tom Ford, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Dolce & Gabbana).

Someone I know, a true fashion insider who has been a design force for more than 30 years, recently traveled to the American Southwest and observed a group from Ralph Lauren busily buying Native American (Navajo) Concha belts and lots of silver jewelry which will apparently be used for their upcoming runway show. And if you look at the Ralph Lauren Blue Label ads that ran in August Vogue, you will see hints of this Western flavor. Of course, this look has long been a signature of Ralph Lauren, and something that has come to identify his aesthetic. It is also something he does better than anyone. Could this be a real Ralph Moment in the making?

If you want to be ahead of the pack, you can always dig up authentic vintage clothing and accessories that mirror this American Southwestern theme right now. Ebay, flea markets, vintage stores and websites are great places to search, and coincidentally, one of my favorite vintage dealers, Pinky Wolman, is currently setting up shop at Brimfield, Massachusetts through Saturday, September 6th. You can find her in Booth 172/173 at The Meadows.

Included in her eclectic collection, will be Retro 50’s Fiesta skirts and dresses with metallic rickrack and ribbons; 50’s Western and American Indian copper jewelry with a bold artsy crafty look; vintage tooled leather bags in natural leather; velvet Navajo shirts with authentic handmade silver Navajo buttons; 50’s Western shirts in gabardine or plaid with metallic woven into the pattern.

After Brimfield, you will be able to find this wonderful assortment on her website: Midcentury Chic, located at

-Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

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.

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