October 7, 2011 10:06 pm

A blanc canvas

Contemporary designs are infused with classic couture details for the spring/summer 2012 collections at Paris fashion week

Girls in white cotton

Nothing says new year or new season or fresh start (or any other such synonym you can find in the thesaurus) as well as a crisp white cotton shirt, so it is not surprising that designers seized on it for spring. What is worth noting, however, is just how many designers seized on it: pretty much all of them. There hasn’t been this much fashion consensus since the little black dress and, indeed, the white cotton shirt – or WCS – is the yin to the LBD’s yang; the reaction to its action (to paraphrase the law of fashion physics). Whether the shirtdress, the shirtwaist or just shirting (or shirts with suits), white cotton was everywhere, symbolising not just the new season, or summer temperatures, but perhaps the thing everyone is hoping for: a new beginning.

From left: Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, Lanvin and Ann Demeulemeester

Fringe

No, we are not talking about hair (though at Hermès it was all about a fringe) but the sartorial technique. Texture is a big trend for next season – there’s more brocade on the runways than in Versailles – and all roads in this fashion map lead to fringe, the better to run your hands through. Haute rather than hippie, and not 1920s-flapper-historical by any means, it can be silken, cellophane, beaded or behemoth, and comes in all fabrications and lengths, from three-dimensional bling to yeti chic. The effect is to add a sense of movement to even the straightest skirt or most relaxed jacket. After all, who doesn’t want to feel as if they – or at least their sleeves – are going somewhere?

From left: Alexander McQueen, Yves Saint Laurent, Céline and Valentino

Peplums

You know what they say: waist not, want not. OK, well, maybe they don’t, but this season in Paris, designers did. More interesting than a belt, and easier to wear (it creates the illusion of curves while disguising troublesome tummy issues), the peplum is back. Though part of the ubiquitous trend towards injecting classic couture details into contemporary dress, these peplums are not ye olde peplums: they don’t demand a suit or dress (they act almost like an accessory) and they come deconstructed and dangling, or frothing over an already frothy skirt, or undulating around the body like waves. Plunge in.

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