Style

Spring message: Lighten up!

Light, loose and breezy.

It might not be what most people are feeling heading into fall with its contentious politics and economic woes, but fashion designers seem to be thinking the heavy mood will be lifted come spring.

Their collections presented last week at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week screamed lightheartedness, whether it was a short romper, a long flowy chiffon evening gown, a hot pink pantsuit or an embroidered leather bomber jacket.

“This has been one of the best spring seasons I've seen in years,” said James Aguiar, a fashion expert and co-host of Ultra HD's “Full Frontal Fashion.” “There has been a renewed optimism that we haven't seen in a while.”

He said he could tell by the smiles on the models and the happier mood in the tents. The clothes, too, had a feeling of change, with many designers showing layers, which means more choices for shoppers to spend money on.

But other than an overall lightened mood, few trends emerged from the runways. Designers continued to be scattered when it came to styles and silhouettes, with more of that same “anything goes” mentality that's been so prevalent recently.

With broader choices, however, women, especially those who aren't a classic size 6, should be able to find more in stores that work for their shape and personality rather than having to fit into a particular popular style that's doesn't work with their body or personality.

Designers also were encouraging risk-taking for spring by showing daring color and pattern combinations with surprising results. Michael Kors suggested stripes with polka dots in a dress and top outfit. Nanette Lepore paired lime green with orange in a dress pattern. Even more daring was Anna Sui's mixture of an olive shirt over a lime green and magenta top.

While designers for the most part were hesitant to reinvent themselves too dramatically for spring in the current economic climate, there were elements of trends.

The jumpsuit was one of them. Just about every major designer had at least one, from Marc Jacobs to Michael Kors. Betsey Johnson did hers as cutesie, girly rompers. Catherine Malandrino's were long and sultry with wide pant legs and a deep V top. Marc by Marc Jacobs had a series of twill jumpsuits. Diane von Furstenberg made one of chiffon. Anna Sui worked in delicate silk with Mexican pinwheel embroidery. And Max Azria's jumpsuit came with one shoulder strap.

The one-shoulder look was popular, a continuation of the asymmetry that's been happening for a while. On most runways, it was one-shoulder gowns, dresses and yes, jumpsuits, the most popular being those with ruffles along the strap.

Pantsuits continued to show up, as well, and not the ones you'll find on Hillary Clinton. Carolina Herrera did hers in silk organza with cigarette pants. Marc Jacobs did one with a belted boyfriend jacket and cropped pants. And Michael Williamson opened his show with a sizzling hot satiny pink pantsuit with a long jacket.

Small details were common, such as front bow ties at the waist on dresses, jackets and skirts, and ruffles on sleeves, hems and collars. Embroidery took on new life. Malandrino embroidered a leather jacket while Anna Sui embroidered everything from cummerbunds to tunics. Designers also were playing with layering for spring, with lace, tulle and even fishnet used as overlays.

All of it contributed to that renewed hope that made the runways seem brighter.

“It's a time to smile and a time to look forward,” Aguiar said.

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