International flair for the year ahead

In the fashion world, if you’re not six months ahead, you’re already behind. The looks walking down the runway at the 2013 Vancouver Fashion Week, held March 19–24 at the Chinese Cultural Centre, were geared towards the chillier days and crisp nights awaiting us six months from now. So while you’re dreaming of springy pastels and the vibrant brights of summer, file away a few of these trends to stay ahead of the curve when the temperature starts to drop.

Get ready to embrace texture this fall because the runways at the March 23 International Designer Show were rife with a rich array of materials made to tempt even the most steadfast cotton lover. Red velvet at LUVON (China), caramel leather at Nina Athanasiou (Germany), neon beadwork at Nova Chiu (U.K.) and eye-catching sequins and chiffon at Lila Nova (Greece) will mean lots of variety with an attention to detail in stores this fall. Traditional autumnal beiges and reds met with an abundance of monochromatic black and white looks, with neon accents and earthy neutrals providing optimal pops of colour. With clothing taking on a more tailored fit, it should come as no surprise that each line mixed ladylike sophistication with ethnic flair. The sensual fabrics combined with geometric, gothic and whimsical themes means that casual styles are getting a serious structural upgrade for fall/winter 2013. Even footwear stayed high class with an abundance of nude and black platforms and pumps.

The shimmering jewel tones and buttery leathers that Hatice Ipek Tohumcu (Turkey) showed were a nod to classical winter elegance, but the designer’s elaborately stenciled dresses and “convertible” outerwear (complete with removable zippered and buttoned panels) point to modern versatility and subtle risk-taking. Tohumcu has more than 20 years’ experience in the fashion business and is a wizard with leather. When asked about her multi-look, convertible pieces, she said, “I wanted to have different images and shapes for my designs. I don’t want a piece to be worn with just one look in mind.”

Budding fashionistas, take that as your cue to mix it up and combine different shapes and textures this fall. Leather with silk, wool with lace, or chiffon with a bit of fur (faux or otherwise). Try highly tailored pants or a skirt on the bottom with a boxy, geometric tunic on top. Not into wild, neon colour combos like those at the Nova Chiu show? That’s okay. Go for a head-to-toe monochromatic look in black or white, as seen at the Jacob Kimmie (South Africa) show.

Roksolana Bogutska, one of Ukraine’s most popular designers, showcased traditional Eastern European floral prints alongside elegant black and gold brocade, with hints of red velvet and delicate white lace. According to her PR team, Bogutska’s designs have been worn by former Ukrainian First Lady Kateryna Yushchenko, and with her classical shapes and attention to detail and intricacy, it’s no wonder why. All of those lush fabrics and colours, along with the vintage feel of the show, hinted at the custom-made pieces of a bygone era. “Her signature look is all about an ethnic Ukrainian style. There’s lots of embroidery and beading in her looks. It’s all handmade,” said Bogutska’s PR rep.

With an overwhelming number of vintage styles strutting down the strip, it’s clear that old is in, so don’t be afraid to check out local vintage shops for rare finds. Handmade pieces are the items to have, so embrace the unique wave hitting the fashion world and find antiqued pieces that speak to your own aesthetic this autumn.

As each designer proved with their autumn/winter collections, ’tis the season of traditional-meets-outside-the-box, so consider taking your favourite classical looks and putting a new spin on them when the summer fades.

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