Four fashion capitals and four weeks of runway previews didn't add up to a single must-have look for spring-summer '09.
That might be just fine with consumers who, considering the economic meltdown of recent days, probably are in no mood to start their shopping lists for next season.
Of course designers couldn't have predicted such a stark picture when they started crafting these collections months before their previews in New York, London, Paris and Milan. Still, there was a collective movement toward a looser shape compared to the buttoned-up style of fall.
Here's what editors, stylists and retailers came home to consider:
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NUDES: Call it sand, skin or champagne: There was a steady parade of nude colors on the runways, although the models weren't necessarily showing a lot of skin. It didn't matter. The effect of flesh-colored clothes — whether they're flashy with sparkle or more sophisticated in an earth tone — is sexy.
ONE SHOULDER: Designers offered up the modern goddess as their collective muse, showing a string of one-shouldered looks. Most of the outfits were evening gowns but the asymmetric style was also popular with more casual, shorter silhouettes.
Sometimes the off-kilter line creates a longer, leaner appearance; sometimes, though, the outfit just looks askew.
The look also fueled the tribal vibe.
CORSETS: While a more relaxed shape dominated, there was a proliferation of tight corsets, too. It was the yin to the yang, and the va in vavoom. Corsets were featured in old-school cocktail dresses and playful rompers. Prada also adopted bra tops, so the lingerie look may linger awhile.
TROPICAL TINTS: Either the fashion industry isn't going to let the shaky economy drag them down — or designers are trying to escape it. There was a clear tropical influence on the clothes for spring-summer. If nude is the must-have neutral over standard black and white, then tangerine orange and hibiscus pink, along with ocean blues, are the favorite infusions of color instead of pastels.
The top-tier designer labels including Lanvin and Narciso Rodriguez, also adopted a fiery red, but it was with undertones of orange instead of blue.
It feels good to surround yourself with these colors after the winter, but for those starved for brights actually will start seeing color trickle in during November when resort-season clothes begin to appear.
SHOES: The gladiator might reach its full height of popularity in spring '09.
What started as a flat summertime-sandal alternative to the ballet slipper has gotten a progressively higher heel as the years have gone on.
The shoes on the runway this go-round had towering heels, tough-girl styling and seemingly unstable architecture.