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The Essence of Fall

This season distilled to its fundamentals.

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Liu Wen at the Alexander McQueen show.  

Fall 2009 was, by all accounts, conservative, which makes sense, given the economy. Designers stuck to familiar ground, reworking themes with new silhouettes, or revisiting decades—the strict, strong-shouldered forties and the giddy, equally strong-shouldered eighties, in particular—whose silhouettes felt simultaneously novel and familiar. Mannish jackets done in cozy, rich fabrics or touched with fur felt like a return to tradition and comfort—who doesn’t want to wrap up in a boyfriend’s coat? But without sex appeal, there is no fashion. So those swinging jackets came atop sexy thigh boots; little black dresses flashed a bare shoulder; and trim suits were done in fiery crimson—the color of the season, both passionate and safe. The clothes might be subdued in some ways, but there’s a bounty of what fashion calls “wearable,” which is to say, realistic: simple motorcycle jackets, silky printed dresses, waist-defining belts (already given a global thumbs-up by Michelle Obama). And what would a new season be without an “It” bag? This fall, even those have been simplified to their essence, with hardly a logo or a glint of hardware to be seen. Simple is better these days. Right now, fashion is meant to last.


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