Cool contrasts

Asymmetry Who said fashion didn’t have its feet firmly in reality? OK, we did, in the “black and white” trend section, but that’s what is so great about the industry: it can be all things to all people if you look hard enough. Or even if you don’t look so hard. On the New York runways last week there were enough up-to-here-and-down-to-there-all-at-the-same-time skirts to make it impossible to miss some designers’ meaning: we’re at one of those in-between times, pushed and pulled from one political party to another, one economic solution to another, old world to new. The gift of fashion is that it can make grace out of such a seemingly contrary situation. Wear it and you don’t have to weep.

In black and white Yes, we know, life (especially now) is coloured in shades of grey – which makes it even more of a relief to be able to think of a wardrobe in black and white. Whether slashed, trimmed, printed or paired, the clarity achieved by matching extremes gives spring a simplicity it often seems we can only dream of outside the confines of a closet. But there’s the appeal: elegant as a tuxedo but not nearly as formal, this is a shortcut to at least looking like you have your business straightened out, your priorities in order, and know your right from your wrong. Appearances can be deceiving, it’s true, but dress with definition and you may actually achieve it.

Floral: (from left) Diane von Furstenberg, Rodarte, Peter Som, Proenza Schouler, Alexander Wang, Ralph Lauren

Floral Does this really need an explanation? In spring ... wait for it ... flowers bloom! And, as in gardens everywhere, so in spring fashion. Just because the reasons for a trend are glaringly obvious and frankly banal, however, does not mean it’s bad, and indeed these clothes are both pretty and sophisticated. By matching their posies with pared-down shapes, designers have cut the clichéd sweet with a dose of chic. As a result, you won’t necessarily come up smelling like roses (or sunflowers, or hibiscus, or any of the other in-your-face florals that make up these prints), but you might be inspired to do a bit of growing yourself. And no, we don’t mean of the physical kind, but the mental and cultural.

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