Roberto Cavalli's signature brand of sex appeal got cleaned up for Spring 2013 with a collection that examined dark and light — both in fabrics and in the women who wear them. Cavalli's casting for this show put blond models in a wide variety of sweet all-white ensembles made from lace and laser-cut leather that simply looked like lace. These looks yielded to white pieces tinged with lime green or pale orange treatments like prints or more cutout leather. Eventually the mood darkened to not-so-basic black in looks frequently shown on brunette models: one blazer with embellished shoulders was paired with sheer black trousers, while a dress with dramatic, flesh-baring cutouts got the same glittery treatment. It was an interesting exercise in dressing different kinds of women from one point of view. And that focus on dressing women is part of what turned this offering into one of Cavalli's most appealing outings yet.
This year's Emmys may just have been the most fashionable yet. Christian Dior, Zac Posen, Jason Wu, and Dolce & Gabbana were all well-represented on the red carpet, and even better, the amount of stars who bucked the trend for cookie-cutter glamour and weren't afraid to experiment a bit seemed higher than ever. Perhaps it's all those front-row seats at Fashion Week and darkly dramatic magazine covers (ahem, Michelle Dockery)? Whatever the reason, it's definitely all for the better. Herein, our picks for who nailed it at the 2012 Emmys.
Softly tailored sportswear in hazy shades of gray opened Giorgio Armani's Spring 2013 show. With their subdued tones in liquid-like silk, they were elegant and understated elegant — and stood in a dramatic contrast to the glistening eveningwear in navy and black that closed the show. In between, there were organza and charmeuse tunics, dresses, and trousers in dreamy prints of pale blue and smoky lavender. And that's the beauty of Armani; he lets each look flow gently into one another seamlessly, like a story unfolding.
Massimiliano Giornetti distilled a romantic idea of the gaucho into his travel-ready, equestrian, and slightly masculine Spring 2013 collection for Salvatore Ferragamo. The offering was far too luxurious to herd any actual cattle in — unless you work on the kind of ranch where sleeveless crocodile shirts are part of the uniform — but it carried plenty of hints to its inspiration nonetheless. The opening salvo here was a rich black leather trench coat dressed up with crocodile sandal boots, and that look was followed quickly by a selection other coats with asymmetrical shapes and hidden closures. Likewise, the rest of the offering was pretty with a tough undercurrent. Giornetti answered the season's demand for lace and sheer insets with black mesh and a silvery open-weave sweater. Sparkle came in the form of gold- and silver-tone sequins that made a variety of garments look like chain mail.
Spring 2013 had Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce looking once again to their homeland of Sicily. But whereas last season was all romance and religion in the form of gilded embroidery and black lace, this time around the duo went cheery and bright with an ode to the island's vibrant street markets, puppet theaters, and beachy holidays in the sun. And just like any good vacation abroad, there was plenty here for the eye to take in: street-scene prints in saturated primary hues, beaded embroidery, raffia basket weave, still-life florals, tassels, and folksy appliqué. The adornments came affixed to nearly everything, from easy-wearing shifts, shorts, and t-shirt tops to more elaborate pieces like frothy dresses, basket skirts, and corsets. But the collection's real standouts were the multitude of boldly striped dresses, '50s-style shorts sets, and tunics in graphic lines of black, orange, green, or blue against crisp white. They served as a nice anchor to all the chaotic charm.
Angela Missoni isn't the first designer to send light, breezy clothing down the runway for Spring 2013, but the gauzy, sheer dresses she showed in Milan on Sunday were among the finest we've seen this season. What set this collection apart was how unMissoni many of its pieces were. The house's iconic multicolored knits were at once present and hidden, sometimes veiled by sheer layers of organza or stitched together in similarly colored fabrics that made their patterns more subtle. In other places, the collection simplified the Missoni chevron by zooming in on it and reducing it to stripes or triangular shapes. There were also a lot of pure-white pieces on this runway, inspired by an all-white Missoni suit that appeared on the cover of French Elle in the '60s. After all, you can't know where you're going unless you know where you've been.
What else could have inspired the taxicab yellow ensembles that opened Umit Benan Sahin's Spring 2013 collection for Trussardi than women zipping through New York City? Soft to bold yellow pieces included everything from flowy, retro dresses to wide-leg trousers to silk blouses to double-breast suits to sporty jackets. But yellow wasn't the only color of choice at Trussardi. The designer also sent down a bevy of blue ensembles, black leather, cognac colors, as well as white. Silhouettes were mostly loose-fitting and standouts were leather-on-leather shorts suits, a pajama-style floral getup, a luxe snakeskin jacket, and a white safari-style vest with matching pants.
Consuelo Castiglioni's "weightless exploration of volume" for Spring 2013 resulted in a collection that felt pared down, powerful, and right on point for the season. Roomy, sculpted shapes were the main story here, with silhouettes focusing on strong shoulders on top and A-line shapes below the waist. Leather and canvas tunics, shirts, and jackets were cut with wide, square sleeves, while deep necklines helped to underscore the careful geometry of each piece. Peplums with structured flares and skirts with loosely folded pleats gave a feminine airiness to a series of dresses and coats, and the effect was modern and elegant at once. And though most looks came in monochrome solids — black, dark green, aqua, coral, and lavender — Castiglioni didn't neglect her more playful side either; there were also optical Bauhaus-inspired prints, shiny jacquards, and a tinsel-like fur worked into the mix.
This season, there have been plenty of explorations in eastern exoticism. Vera Wang did it, Prada too. But no one, for Spring 2013 anyway, has done it as sexily as Peter Dundas did today with his languid play on the "opulence of Indochina."
Sheer was the name of the game here, and it came in the form of white chiffon and organza that covered (well, not really) the body in loose layers and billowing shapes. Wide-leg trousers, tunics, tank tops, and even a trench coat seemed to float off the body in barely there wisps; some pieces were anchored only by strategically placed opaque panels or delicate, crystal-embellished embroidery in dragon and tiger motifs. A later group consisting of silky anoraks, kimono-style jackets, column gowns, and slouchy pantsuits came in liquid-like silk and printed with bold blossom prints or adorned with metallic appliqué. Though less revealing, they embodied the same sensual spirit.
"Reset to zero," read the notes for Jil Sander's Spring 2013 show, the first womenswear collection shown by the company's founding designer in eight years. Indeed, after last season's emotional Raf Simons send-off following the sudden announcement that Sander would be rejoining her namesake label, there was little doubt that the house was in need of a nice fresh start. And in a way that's exactly what we got — though it didn't come in the form of direction-shifting drama or statement-making change. Instead, Sander offered up a collection that felt comfortingly true and reassuringly restrained, with just enough modernity to provoke a little intrigue. Silhouettes were cut in structured curves that stood elegantly away from the body, while the palette of rich navy, burgundy, and crisp white punctuated by vivid orange felt right in line with fashion's recent penchant for cleverly appointed color. There was plenty to love and it was plenty serene, but mostly it will be interesting to see where it all leads.