After a young, playful spring of color blocking and neon brights, fashion takes a more earnest turn, as it often does for fall.
This is not to say it's somber. Not at all.
Both American and European designers have created collections in rich colors and textures with a clear message: dress elegant and strong.
Harper's Bazaar fashion and beauty editor Avril Graham describes the season as "womanly and sophisticated."
"Have you seen the Jil Sander collection?" she asked by phone. "Double-face cashmere in rich colors. It's so luxurious."
True, Jil Sander raised the bar this season with the final collection by creative director Raf Simons, who took his last bow at New York's fashion week in February. His fall presentation was praised by critics as being one of his best and featured beautiful dresses and coats.
A Jil Sander blush-pink cashmere topper left
Graham a bit starry-eyed at the runway show.
"I knew I wanted it immediately when I saw," she said. "It's the effortless shape and texture. Simply effortless."
Fall fashion blends a range of trends, from deep-brooding bordeaux (also called ox-blood), pink and purple hues to leather, military and embellished baroque-inspired pieces.
"Fall is grown up and rich," Graham said.
Take Jason Wu, a favorite of First Lady Michelle Obama and other famous faces who recently had a celebrated collection at Target. His collection exuded opulence with bordeaux-infused dresses and separates, along with red-carpet worthy gowns.
Bordeaux appears to be the color of the season, bringing more passion than the typical red. Other designers such as Derek Lam and Alexander Wang have also created collections using pops of bordeaux.
At Neiman Marcus, fashion director Ken Downing touts a season of mixed green hues, like a salad but much zestier.
"Every shade of green is mixed to create a harmony of hues," he said. "It's an assortment of deep, dark spruce green and emerald mixed with a citron green."
Another key color on the season's runway is pink, a hue rarely used in fall collections.
"Pink is typically reserved for spring and summer collections, but now it's been re-interpreted for fall," Graham said.
Alexander McQueen, Thakoon and others offer rose-tinted and cotton-candied colored pieces, from coats to dresses to even shoes.
Houston native designer Cesar Galindo, who is based in New York, has created a fall collection with muted brights mixed with gold and copper.
"As a brand, you have to find ways to make it easy for your customers," Galindo said. "Not everyone can put themselves together like Sarah Jessica Parker. So designers can do this for them."
His focus is on day and night dresses paired with toppers in coordinating hues. His favorite color mix is purple and taupe. Galindo recently presented his runway show Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York at Lincoln Center for the first time.
When it comes to dressing day-to-day, Downing said jackets and feminine trousers will take center stage this fall, continuing the ode to menswear. There are crisp white and winter white pantsuits and separates from Alberta Ferretti, Chanel and Proenza Schouler. The men's military look also continues to have a firm spot in women's collections with army green pieces and natty double-breasted jackets.
"Jackets give dresses such a polished look, and then there are trousers, such as the abbreviated pant, that are high above the ankle and show off flattering footwear," Downing said.
Another standout trend of the season is the baroque-inspired look, called 'razzle-dazzle' in Harper's Bazaar magazine.
It's rich and opulent, Graham said, referencing designer collections with intricate workmanship, gold and black embellishments, brocade work and embroidery. Those reveling well in the trend include Oscar de la Renta and Dolce & Gabbana.
Also this fall, leather transitions from spring's pastels to traditional black, navy and brown. The runway featured leggings, trousers, dresses and jackets that will likely be re-interpreted at major retailers such as Macy's and Dillard's.
Leather is definitely an edgier look, but not dark and moody. Think "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" meets "Breakfast at Tiffany's."
Downing said the season is all about mixing things up.
"The days of dictating what fashion should be are over," he said.
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