Fashion Week 2012: Coats Make A Comeback

  • Marc Jacobs' show was a "joyous celebration of eccentricity," says Sally Singer, editor at T: The New York Times Style Magazine. The set was "Dr. Seuss-meets-Marie Antoinette paper-cut fantasy," and the models were a cross between "Eliza Doolittle and Fagin's merry band." The music was from Oliver!
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    Marc Jacobs' show was a "joyous celebration of eccentricity," says Sally Singer, editor at T: The New York Times Style Magazine. The set was "Dr. Seuss-meets-Marie Antoinette paper-cut fantasy," and the models were a cross between "Eliza Doolittle and Fagin's merry band." The music was from Oliver!
    Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images
  • The textures, colors and patterns in the Marc Jacobs designs don't "cater to the usual ideas of sexiness or power-dressing," Singer says. It's more about pleasure: "Pleasure in fabrics, pleasure in proportions, pleasure in silhouettes."
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    The textures, colors and patterns in the Marc Jacobs designs don't "cater to the usual ideas of sexiness or power-dressing," Singer says. It's more about pleasure: "Pleasure in fabrics, pleasure in proportions, pleasure in silhouettes."
    Peter Michael Dills/Getty Images
  • 2012 is a big year for coats, like this vibrant piece from the Tracy Reese collection. "We see a proliferation of ... really beautifully made, beautifully tailored coats of all different descriptions," Singer says.
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    2012 is a big year for coats, like this vibrant piece from the Tracy Reese collection. "We see a proliferation of ... really beautifully made, beautifully tailored coats of all different descriptions," Singer says.
    Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for TRESemme
  • Coats might seem an obvious choice for a fall/winter show, but they had fallen out of favor for a few years. Now, designers are returning to the coat as a staple, Singer explains — "the idea that somehow winter is again upon us." Above, a coat with an exaggerated shoulder at the A Detacher show.
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    Coats might seem an obvious choice for a fall/winter show, but they had fallen out of favor for a few years. Now, designers are returning to the coat as a staple, Singer explains — "the idea that somehow winter is again upon us." Above, a coat with an exaggerated shoulder at the A Detacher show.
    Dario Cantatore/Getty Images
  • A model shows off a cherry red coat with a funnel neck and wide belt at the Diane von Furstenberg show.
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    A model shows off a cherry red coat with a funnel neck and wide belt at the Diane von Furstenberg show.
    Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
  • In another return to basics, Singer says she's "seeing designers deciding to sort of batten down the hatches and do the thing that they do best." She points to Donna Karan's crisp white shirt and black skirt as one example of a design that's sharp and new, but not risky or daring.
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    In another return to basics, Singer says she's "seeing designers deciding to sort of batten down the hatches and do the thing that they do best." She points to Donna Karan's crisp white shirt and black skirt as one example of a design that's sharp and new, but not risky or daring.
    Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
  • "It's not a fantasy collection, it's a reality collection," Singer says of Donna Karan's tailored separates. These are pieces that a working woman "needs in her wardrobe year in, year out."
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    "It's not a fantasy collection, it's a reality collection," Singer says of Donna Karan's tailored separates. These are pieces that a working woman "needs in her wardrobe year in, year out."
    Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
  • Another designer returning to simpler ground is Joseph Altuzarra, whose parkas were a great success last year. "All the conceptual pieces that he had done before didn't matter as much as a staple item that a superfashionable girl could wear day in, day out on the street," Singer says. This year, he returns with a black shearling coat with luxe fur trim and a thin leather belt. (Neilson Barnard/...
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    Another designer returning to simpler ground is Joseph Altuzarra, whose parkas were a great success last year. "All the conceptual pieces that he had done before didn't matter as much as a staple item that a superfashionable girl could wear day in, day out on the street," Singer says. This year, he returns with a black shearling coat with luxe fur trim and a thin leather belt.
    Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
  • It's not all sweet and simple, though. Singer says she's seen a trend of "evening fabrics and decorative fabrics for day ... Fabrics that are expensive, exotic and a pleasure to wear." Above, a model shows off one of Tracy Reese's designs.
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    It's not all sweet and simple, though. Singer says she's seen a trend of "evening fabrics and decorative fabrics for day ... Fabrics that are expensive, exotic and a pleasure to wear." Above, a model shows off one of Tracy Reese's designs.
    Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
  • "There's a lot of discussion right now in fashion not about the U.S. consumer, but about the global consumer," Singer says. "I think that's where these companies are looking to see real growth in the next year."
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    "There's a lot of discussion right now in fashion not about the U.S. consumer, but about the global consumer," Singer says. "I think that's where these companies are looking to see real growth in the next year."
    Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

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New York Fashion Week may be coming to a close on Thursday, but a cycle of fashion shows in cities around the world is just about to begin. Fashion editors and store buyers will descend upon London, Milan and Paris to inspect clothes that may appear in stores next fall. Sally Singer — editor-in-chief of T: The New York Times Style Magazine — is one of those tastemaking jet-setters, and she joins NPR's Renee Montagne to talk about 2012's trends.

Bundle Up: Coats fell out of favor for a few seasons, but they're back — big time — in 2012. Above, a design from Joseph Altuzarra. i i

Bundle Up: Coats fell out of favor for a few seasons, but they're back — big time — in 2012. Above, a design from Joseph Altuzarra. Neilson Barnard/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
Bundle Up: Coats fell out of favor for a few seasons, but they're back — big time — in 2012. Above, a design from Joseph Altuzarra.

Bundle Up: Coats fell out of favor for a few seasons, but they're back — big time — in 2012. Above, a design from Joseph Altuzarra.

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

"Already we see a proliferation of great coats," Singer says. "That might seem like an obvious choice for fall/winter, but just a few years ago there was a trend against that, in part because of the reality of global warming — nobody needed a warm coat. It seems now designers are going back to that as a staple."

Designers are also returning to some tried-and-true approaches: "What I'm seeing is a return to people's signature strengths," Singer explains. "I think designers now, because of all the insecurity both in the industry itself — with hirings and firings and all the kind of nonsense that's going on within fashion and within the economy generally — I'm seeing designers deciding to sort of batten down the hatches and do the thing that they do best."

But there's no lack of new ideas; Singer has noticed that many designers are incorporating extravagant fabrics into their collections. The use of "evening fabrics and decorative fabrics for day," is a recurring theme, she observes. "Brocade for day. Brocade and a jean. Brocade and a little jacket you'll wear to work. Velvet. Embroidered satin. Fabrics that are expensive, exotic and a pleasure to wear."

With the global economy still struggling to overcome a deep recession, who will be able to afford these luxurious items? "There's a lot of discussion right now in fashion not about the U.S. consumer, but about the global consumer," she says. "The American economy is less a pressing concern for designers than the growth of Asia, the growth of China as an important market, the growth of Brazil ... I think that's where these companies are looking to see real growth in the next year."

A Pricey Purse: Singer loved Derek Lam's purse designed to look like an old-fashioned makeup train case. "He did it in lizard. I will never be able to afford it," she says, "but it was a beautiful, beautiful bag." i i

A Pricey Purse: Singer loved Derek Lam's purse designed to look like an old-fashioned makeup train case. "He did it in lizard. I will never be able to afford it," she says, "but it was a beautiful, beautiful bag." Fernanda Calfat/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week hide caption

itoggle caption Fernanda Calfat/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
A Pricey Purse: Singer loved Derek Lam's purse designed to look like an old-fashioned makeup train case. "He did it in lizard. I will never be able to afford it," she says, "but it was a beautiful, beautiful bag."

A Pricey Purse: Singer loved Derek Lam's purse designed to look like an old-fashioned makeup train case. "He did it in lizard. I will never be able to afford it," she says, "but it was a beautiful, beautiful bag."

Fernanda Calfat/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

Still, plenty of designers are working to create reasonably priced pieces. Singer points to Olivier Theyskens as an example. "I just love his slightly slouchy-through-the-hip trousers," Singer says of Theyskens' line for Theory. "And I can afford those. One of the great things about New York right now is there's a series of designers who make what we call 'contemporary' clothes, which are beneath the designer price point. They are not cheap, but they are less expensive than what top designer stuff costs. That's where I can spend my money."

Fashion doesn't only have a fraught relationship with the economy — designers also respond to world politics. Last year, designers took inspiration from the then-nascent Arab Spring. Singer hasn't seen any strong links to current events in this year's New York shows, but she expects to encounter plenty of politically conscious fashion in Europe.

"There's no question that the amount of protest on the streets of Europe in the past few months will be reflected somewhere," she says. "Designers have their antennae up. They know what's going on, and anyone who's been in London and Athens, across the board in Europe in the last number of months, is going to have to have something in their collection that feels different."

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