Labor Day marks the official end of summer and the long holiday weekend is for fashion folk the perfect time to do their wardrobe chores. It’s time to put away those summer whites. Tennis whites are of course the exception and, personally, I’ll be sporting my optic white RLX tennis shorts until the end of the US Open. That’s after the beginning of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week here in New York for the fashion calendar obsessed among you. My previous thigh baring homage to the US Open on the first day of fashion week was simultaneously praised by the style watchers on numerous fashion websites and panned by a certain â€œsecond in a two-horse raceâ€ New York daily newspaper who shall remain nameless. Who knows what acclaim – or infamy – my slightly longer shorts will bring?
The official start of fall is the Autumnal Equinox on September 22, but who can possibly wait that long to start wearing all the delicious clothes that were offered in the Fall/Winter 2009 shows? An Indian summer may foil your plans to appear at Fashion Week in that ultraluxe Prada mink and cable knit cashmere number, but that doesn’t mean you can’t participate in the return of the cardigan. The cardigan sweater was named for the 7th Earl of Cardigan, a British military commander of the early 19th century. Since then, the cardigan has become a staple of every fashion maven’s wardrobe and the perfect transitional piece for those awkward months at the beginning of both fall and spring. Yarn weight, colors and patterns dictate which of these easy-to-wear sweaters are seasonally appropriate.
Marco Zanini, the new designer behind the revival of Rochas presented a collection inspired by the couture history of the fabled house. Inspired by the slips worn by the femme fatales of noir films, Zanini’s cardigan is reminiscent of the one-piece lace foundation garment made famous by the movie The Women. The intarsia waistband and the heavier knit bustier line give the wearer a sexy, feminine line without actually baring anything. If your style is a little more classic, TSE, long famous for its delicious cashmere creations, offers a hooded ribbed cardigan that is the ultimate in luxury layering.
Even Pringle of Scotland, the staid purveyor of sweaters to golfers and university professors alike, amped up the sex appeal with a paillette covered version of their classic black cardigan that is the perfect antidote to a chilly evening on the town. For his final collection for Nina Ricci, designer Olivier Thyskens presented a glorious knit cardigan with 80’s-style shoulder pads AND outrageous oversize lapels. Not for the faint of heart, this showstopper is sure to turns heads at any fall fundraising gala.
If your maxim is â€œmore is moreâ€ then you probably are no stranger to the sweater dress and its half-sister, the maxi-cardigan, but why not give them even more with a second visual punch – of color. Sonya Rykiel, the go-to designer of many a chic Parisian woman offers a color-blocked cardigan in tones of taupe, red, salmon, and black that will have you looking as breathtakingly chic as it did on the runway, whether you are lunching at Fred’s with friends or sitting front row at a New York fashion show. Matthew Williamson‘s collection was shot through with acid colors and his fluorescent salmon maxi-cardigan is no less attention grabbing. You’ll stop fashion folk dead in their tracks. Call it the safety orange hunting vest of the season!
Much fuss has been made over the â€œnewâ€ silhouette of the season – the Leg of Mutton sleeve. Not since the late 1800’s have women taken up so much room with their shoulders. Thankfully, building standards of the time dictated double doors. Today’s fashion fan may have considerably more trouble navigating doorways, let alone maneuvering through a narrow subway turnstile or fitting into a theater seat. While many fashion critics panned this look as a return to the â€œworst of the 80’sâ€, this particular Dynasty fan thinks today’s updated version is simply divine. Just keep your hairstyle more Robert Palmer girl than Alexis Morel Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan Dexter (see – told you I was a fan!), and you’ll be totally â€œof the momentâ€ fashion-wise. Dolce and Gabbana featured this silhouette in a cardigan that is the freshest runway take on this revived trend. On this side of the Atlantic, New York’s own Koi Suwannagate adapted this sleeve in a more geometric construction enhanced by color blocking and a post-modern impressionist take on deconstructed argyle. The overall effect is supremely modern, not unlike the woman daring enough to wear it.
As you settle into the rhythm of fall, build your wardrobe up in layers. Start slowly with light weight knits and build your way up towards winter weight knits and furs. The cardigan is simply the easiest way to transition into the cooler evenings that are just around the corner, still stay fashion forward, and not go completely overboard. Remember to keep that color palette seasonally appropriate and you’ll fall right into fashion!
1. Rochas Fall 09 RTW
2. TSE Fall 09 RTW
3. Pringle of Scotland Fall 09 RTW
4. Nina Ricci Fall 09 RTW
5. Matthew Williamson Fall 09 RTW
6. Sonia Rykiel Fall 09 RTW
7. Dolce & Gabbana Fall 09 RTW
8. Koi Suwannagate Fall 09 RTW