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April 1, 2012updated Feb 11, 2013

PASTEL PARADE

By Chris Boyle

For the last two years, womenswear has been dominated by bold color-blocking and elaborate prints in eye-searing hues. This year’s spring/summer collections are something of a palate cleanser, as designers have employed more muted shades of blush pink, mint green and apricot in their latest creations.

Far from the overly girly fare of seasons past—think babydoll dresses, flouncy skirts and cutesy embellishments like ruffles and bows—this season celebrates a more sophisticated silhouette. The look is generally much more modern, while still maintaining a feminine feel via the delicate color choices.

Calvin Klein Collection’s claim to fame has always been its minimalistic aesthetic. Women’s creative director Francisco Costa never gave into the bold and bright fashion movement—but it looks as if the season’s restrained color palette is more to his liking. His collection included slip dresses that curved over the body with just the subtlest hint of construction in a peplum bodice and wide-cut pants that showcased how quiet colors can speak volumes. Other designers who went this more restrained route included Jonathan Saunders and Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy. Both have made a major impact in the industry over the past few seasons with their inventive use of high impact prints—and this volte-face is a testament to the trend’s strength. To heighten the more feminine characteristics of a softened color palette, a number of designers opted for inventive fabrics. The use of duchess satin, lurex, brocade and jacquard added sophistication (and a bit of shine) to the designs. Alexandre Herchcovitch’s ladylike collection featured lamé jacquard and vintage fabrics from the 1950s. Christopher Kane’s sporty take on the style, in cool blues and sunny yellows, was enriched by brocades and lurex yarns. Glossy pink satin played a major role in collections from both Nina Ricci and Miu Miu.

Over at Ralph Lauren and Christian Dior, the pastel palette inspired looks with a decidedly retro feel, while at Louis Vuitton the cool-hued trend reigned in designer Marc Jacobs’ saccharine confections, which featured stiff lace skirts and cotton candy tufts of feathers that would have looked right at home in the 1950s. With this new direction in color, designers are proving that feminine shades don’t have to be girly. A woman can look contemporary, even minimal, without ever having to look masculine.

 

WHERE TO BUY

CALVIN KLEIN COLLECTION

CHRISTIAN DIOR

Denis Velkovich

(212) 931-2950

www.dior.com

CHRISTOPHER KANE

Ariel Filartiga

(305) 674-7899

GIVENCHY

Thom Faust

(214) 559-4510

www.givenchy.com

JONATHAN SAUNDERS

Kirsty Attwood

44-20-3471-4510

www.jonathan-saunders.com

LOUIS VUITTON

Severine Fritsch-Fontanges

(212) 758-8877

www.louisvuitton.com

MIU MIU

Aytul Jordan

(212) 641-2980

www.miumiu.com

NINA RICCI

Alfonsina Messina

(212) 826-8900

www.ninaricci.com

RALPH LAUREN

Missy Pool

(212) 606-2100

www.ralphlauren.com

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