Fall Fashion Preview: Ladylike Luxe

We know ... you're just starting to dream of bikinis again, never mind fall coats.

But while we advise you what to shop for this spring, here's a heads up on what you'll be lusting for in September.

Based on the recent New York Fashion Week shows, the message for fall ’07 is clear: simplicity, beauty, ease and comfort must partner with a glamorous and chic sophistication we have not seen for several seasons.

When Betsey Johnson shows white gloves with suits and dresses and Marc Jacobs shows refined little black tailored suits, you know the fashion landscape has taken a seismic shift.

The fall collections reflect a quieter moment in fashion. There’s a feeling of refinement, represented by the rich quality of the fabrics and the impeccable tailoring of the clothes. Fall conjures up a grown-up, chic woman who expresses the epitome of American elegance.

Marc Jacobs

Let’s start with Marc Jacobs, whose show was the harbinger of what we'll see in the rest of the U.S. fall collections.

Gone are the layers and the voluminous grunge of last season. Jacobs presented a clean and classic sportswear line, in the old-fashioned kind of way.

His bohemian girl has grown up and is living on Park Avenue. She is wearing beautifully tailored, ladylike dresses and smart suits with leather gloves — she even dons a hat.

Jacobs’ simple, elegant, waist-belted shifts and classic shirtdresses in lame are made with razor-like precision. His coats are reminiscent of military uniforms and his black tuxedo pantsuits are a nod to Yves Saint Laurent.

The perfectly poised lady, with a wardrobe that has timeless appeal, was the muse for many collections. Designers such as Michael Vollbracht for Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, Michael Kors, Carolina Herrera and Badgley Mischka all expressed the mood of the season: chic tailoring and sophistication.

Trends: The Dress

Dresses are here to stay for a while. What could be simpler? No need to worry about mixing and matching, just decide on the hose and shoes.

Dresses in all varieties dominated the runways. Michael Vollbracht for Bill Blass dedicated his show to “the little black dress." Swing dresses were prevalent at DKNY, BCBG and Tracy Reese, but in a more streamlined fashion than last season.

Shifts were the big silhouette at Diane von Furstenberg, in her signature prints, and Carolina Herrera and Michael Kors offered their shifts belted at the waist.

Befitting the classic season was the schoolgirl jumper, over a classic turtleneck, at Abaete and Jill Stuart.

Legs and Arms Are in Again

Spending time in the gym will be de rigueur for wearing this fall’s fashions — hems have traveled north of the knee in most collections. Lengths vary from between two inches above the knee at Carolina Herrera, Tuleh and Badgley Mischka to micro-minis at Ellen Tracy, Maladrino, Derek Lam and Doo.Ri.

How not to freeze while wearing the shorter lengths? Tights ... the legwear industry will be hearing lots of “ka ching” come fall.

The leg treatment of choice, across the board, is dark, opaque hose. Some designers got creative with their leg coverage, sending models down the runway in hose that had metallic sheen or textured prints — such as large circles and vertical stripes at Tracy Reese, or sequin-encrusted hose at Cynthia Rowley.

Arms are also given special treatment. The ladylike theme was punctuated by leather opera gloves, worn with sleeveless shifts at Carolina Herrera and TSE.

These over-the-elbow gloves look especially elegant paired with a ¾ sleeve jacket or coat. Marc Jacobs’ showstopper was a sequined black pant with a masculine vest and bright yellow, elongated leather gloves.

Volume Is 'Out,' Tailoring and Luxe Fabrics Are 'In'

All those Grecian diaphanous gowns, billowing skirts and layered baby dolls have given way to streamlined, tailored, simple, refined and polished silhouettes.

“This year we purposefully showed tailoring, technical tailoring, in every sense of the word. I wanted to prove that I can be diverse in my designing,” said Vera Wang.

This sentiment was expressed by masters like Michael Volbracht for Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Lauren, Carolina Herrera and Michael Kors.

Fall’s been given a pedigree feeling through the use of luxe fabrics.

“For fall I used all these delicious fabrics, like cashmere tweeds that weighed an ounce, silk jersey, sable, the thinnest lames and buttery leathers,” says Michael Kors.

Simplicity is the name of the game, yet within the simplest designs fall ‘07 has beautiful details, such as origami folds, piping, cinching, pin tucking and intricate stitching, reminiscent of couture elements.

Clothes are also adorned with feathers, encrusted jewels, beads and sequins.

If I Was a Rich Girl

Michael Kors sent his models down the runway with inspirational messages:

“Girls, you have bank accounts all over the world, you have a party in New York, cocktails in Monte Carlo and are going dancing in London,” he said.

What will the rich girls pack for their whirlwind jet-setting trip?

Day Looks

? Oscar de la Renta’s black turtleneck sweater, paired with Hepburn trousers and a muskrat-trimmed cashmere cardigan.
· Ralph Lauren’s black pencil skirt, with a crisp white shirt, worn tucked in and belted at the waist and knee-length leather boots.
· Ralph Lauren’s camel skirt suit with a short jacket, a brown turtleneck sweater, brown opaque tights and alligator short brown booties.
· Calvin Klein’s luscious monochromatic look: a gray chunky sweater with a tight, body-hugging gray skirt, gray opaque shimmer tights and gray pumps.
· Michael Kors’ orange turtleneck, with a gold brocade skirt and a gold belt, topped off with a plaid anorak.
· Michael Kors’ cobalt blue shift dress with black leather belt and black leather opera gloves.
· TSE’s red, scoop-neck long-sleeved shift.


? Mark Jacobs’ burgundy taffeta origami sleeveless dress with gray leather opera gloves and opaque sandals.
· Diane von Furstenberg’s ruffled gray slip dress topped with a charcoal knit coat, sheer hose and high black slinky heels.
· Bill Blass’ little black chiffon halter mini dress, with black opaque stockings and high-heeled Mary Janes.

Black Tie

? Carmen Marc Valvo’s black cashmere hoodie, with satin pleated ball skirt.
· Marc Jacobs' strapless emerald velvet floor length dress with intricate folds and dramatic satin bow.
· Badgley Mischka’s berry chiffon gown with jeweled straps.

The Color Story

Since the theme of most of the fall collections is a return to the classics, designers are utilizing the predictable shades — black, gray, brown, navy and burgundy.

The mix is also infused with jewel tones, purples and plums. But, just as a wake–up call, shots of orange lend fall ’07 a touch of restrained spice. There's also cobalt blue and yellow.

Fur Makes a Big Comeback

The fur comeback may have been a well-kept secret. There were no PETA demonstrators to be seen anywhere at Fashion Week.

In this season oozing with luxe, designers unapologetically sent fur coats down the runways. Fox stoles and jackets accompanied tailored suits, giving clothes the glamour associated with 1950s movies. Full mink coats trailed evening gowns, and rabbit shrugs covered up strapless cocktail dresses.

Fur was also used in unusual ways as trims on hems of dresses and as an adornment for sleeves.

Metallics for Day Are Here to Stay

The metallic craze, which started last season, continued to make guest appearances throughout the fall fashion shows.

Very dramatic was the gold lame vest at Ralph Lauren, over black pants and turtleneck.

The flash was very bright at Diesel, with skinny jeans in bronze, copper or silver laminated cotton.

Everyone lusted after the woven aluminum cropped pea coat at Adampluseve. Lurex-threaded fabric showed up in many collections, adding a hint of modernity for a fresh approach to the classics.

Hair and Makeup

The easy elegance of the season calls for a polished, coiffed look. Hair is away from the face whether in a sleek ponytail, chignon or twist. Makeup is natural for day with smoky eyes and lightly glossed lips. The drama heightens in the evening, with darker eyes and lips.

Must-Haves for Fall 2007

Chunky, clunky cashmere sweater
Pencil skirt
Several mini shift dresses
The shapely tailored pantsuit or skirt
The Hepburn trouser
Oversized cashmere cardigan
Leather opera gloves
A metallic belt and bag
Chunky heels with lace-up details
The pump bootie
Anything with a fake fur trim
A fake fur coat