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Fall’s Dramatic Turn

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Fashion changes. Heard that before? Every six months, it’s a designer’s job to satisfy our hungry eyes with some kind of newness. Often that’s a slight variation on what came before, a refreshed version of the prevailing trend, which looks kind of the same but a little different, accomplished with a tweak of a hem or a new neckline.

Lately we’ve been content with the ever-inflating dress and its chosen accessories (the crazy shoe, the giant bag, the artfully mussy hair); all that floaty volume looked easy, youthful, carefree. But something happened at the fall runway shows. There was no “evolution.” There was an abrupt, collective hairpin turn, so unanimous it seemed choreographed, away from pouf and toward a distinctly sharper, longer line that suddenly looked adult, sophisticated, purposeful. The lean A-line of Marc Jacobs’s coats, the simple sculpture of Miuccia Prada’s skirts cut from ingenious fabrics like glazed mohair, the hard geometry of Stefano Pilati’s jackets at Yves Saint Laurent; suddenly the carefree bubble looked unkempt, the crazy shoe like a nursery toy. We didn’t want to just throw something on; we wanted to get dressed, a paradigm shift Amanda Fortini digs into in her essay, “The End of the Blob.” Even normally immune males are showing an inclination for the new rigor, as our second men’s fashion issue shows. Actor Paul Dano (all of 23 years old and our men’s cover model) generally prefers a hoodie. But even he admits, “I’ve got to say, getting in a nice suit feels good.”

There’s a theory that a prevailing look doesn’t really take hold until a few years into the decade it’s assigned to. Shoulder pads are really mid-eighties; the miniskirt didn’t gain mass acceptance until after the Beatles landed at JFK. By that measure, we may be seeing the first significant fashion pivot of the 21st century—or at least of the next couple of years.


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