Fashion Week: Spring fashions will be feminine, with edge

Fashion is looking mighty pretty for spring 2015.

But the collections coming down the runways during New York Fashion Week are redefining the “P word.” This time it’s pretty with a punch – a punch of power and sex appeal. In other words, this is not your grandmother’s brand of pretty.

Once New York Fashion Week officially ends its eight-day run on Thursday, the true tastemakers of fashion – buyers for departments stores and boutiques, along with stylists – will have their say about what trends will really be in or out for spring. After all, if buyers don’t order it and stylists don’t select it for their well-heeled clients (including celebrities), then local shoppers won’t see it in the stores.

But the direction from designers seems clear. Feminine, floaty and well, pretty – there really is no other word for it – are in, but with an edge that keeps things from getting too saccharine.

Of course, given the wide range of designers showing, pretty can have different interpretations for different designers.

Monique Lhuillier’s brand of pretty, for example, was ethereal and dreamy, inspired by sunrises with beaded and iridescent dazzle. Nicole Miller’s brand of pretty was part of a contingent that delved into the lushness of the tropics. Carmen Marc Valvo celebrated his 25th anniversary with a more regal brand of pretty, punctuated with plenty of silver.

Prints that pop

Raleigh-based stylists gave the spring 2015 collections a thumbs up, saying there are plenty of promising trends that will work for Triangle area fashionistas.

“What I’ve seen this season I’m very excited about,” said Suzanne Libfraind of Wardrobe Consulting. “What I’m most excited about is the prints, the mixed media. The way I really see it is that there’s a lot of pop art in the fabrics.”

Take florals, for example. It’s spring. You’re going to see them. But the florals for spring 2015 are truly popping – bright and vibrant, often in surprising color combinations – brilliant purple on navy, or a contemporary graphic take on a spray of roses, for example.

But area stylists noted that next spring’s floral trend isn’t the same as this year’s. Remember those floral pants you bought this year? They were everywhere on the runways last season. This time around, not so much.

But Mary Michele Nidiffer of Raleigh-based StyleFinderID said that doesn’t mean you have to get rid of the pants you fell in love with this year.

“My best advice is to really understand what your style is and hone in on (that),” she said. “If you invested in a pair of floral pants and you put them on next spring and they feel like ‘wow’ and you like them – they may not be on the hot list next season, but that doesn’t mean you ditch them.”

Instead, Nidiffer suggests finding a way to pair the pants with something new.

“You look at what’s coming down the runway and what’s in style,” she said. “But there are so many people that are creative-minded in Raleigh. When it works and it’s right for you, wear it. Pay attention to what is in style so you can make a conscious, intentional choice.”

A caution on yellow

Libfraind said the vibrant colors showing up on the runways should work well for customers, too. But, she warned that some of the trendy colors for next spring, like yellow, will have to be worn with – wait for it – a bit of caution. (Sorry, we couldn’t resist!)

“Yellow, you can take in doses. Where it’s presented and put on the body is the most important factor for me when I’m working with clients,” Libfraind said. “For a lot of people, it will be harder to wear up near the face (because of their coloring).”

But Libfraind said one solution will be to use yellow for accessories or wear it on the lower half of the body.

Retro and classic

So what other trends should you watch out for?

Patterns are bold, including stripes – some with a jaunty nautical vibe, and crazy pop art-like designs.

Of course, the fashion world loves retro. It shows up this time around in belted, wide-skirted dresses and skirts paired with blouses that have an almost ’50s feel (without the crinolines, of course!). Tracy Reese sent her ladies sweeping down the catwalk in a series inspired by the late modern dance choreographer Martha Graham. But really, these had more of the glamorous, extravagant sweep of Cyd Charisse.

And the ’70s Bohemian – a favorite designer reference – showed up in easy shirtdresses and other slices of peasant girl chic.

Designers seem to be in love with wrap tops that show a sexy expanse of the throat. Tops, in many cases, retained the slightly boxy cut that’s been seen for the past couple of years, and pant legs are no longer skin tight (sorry super skinny jean fans). Skirt lengths, in many cases, were at the knee or just below, but frequently shown with audaciously high slits.

Other unexpected details tantalized the eye, such as the big leather flower that decorated the belt on a sweet white dress with a Peter Pan collar by Michael Kors.

Yes, you heard correctly – a Peter Pan collar.

Gingham – another old standby – returned to the runway in force with designers from Diane von Furstenberg to Joseph Altuzarra and even Michael Kors.

But again, these are revved up takes – pretty but with an edge. Von Furstenberg, whose pop art collection with new creative director Michael Herz brought a new energy to her usual play with patterns, used gingham for a series of creations straight out of the Brigitte Bardot stylebook – sweet, but sexy. Pretty.