Monday, January 01, 2007

Carolina Herrera- Spring 2007 Ready-to-Wear By: L. Brown

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Carolina Herrera is well-known in the fashion world for her designs which are at the same time simple and detailed. Her Spring 2007 Ready-to-Wear collection is no exception. She uses fabric patterns as the structure for the garment, designs menswear for women with a feminine twist, and places surprising additions into otherwise established styles. All of this while maintaining simple, classic, and elegant designs.

The very first garment down the runway is one of her strongest pieces. There is nothing terribly unique about the design of the gown. It's a simple shift dress with half-length sleeves and a wide collar. But what makes it so noteworthy is that the pattern in the fabric has given shape to the whole dress. The dress is red with an Asian style print, and is especially vibrant along the hemline. But along the bodice, this fades to a muddy peach colour. Then, right above the bust line, it returns to the vibrant pattern seen at the hem. This makes it seem as though the garment is a silk shirt tucked into a strapless dress to provide more form. It is so delicately sewn at the bust that it's difficult to tell at first glance whether the fabric or the sewing is responsible for the switch in tone at this area. The fabric pattern establishes a line and gives it form, all because her designer's instincts told her to place that detail there.

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Herrera truly shines when she does menswear. What other designer can take a woman, place her in a menswear look, and have it be so feminine that it's hard to establish what makes it menswear? One such example is a pair of shorts with an accordion fold pleat at the bottom, and a shimmery, lacy top, complete with ribbons. Nothing about this sounds like menswear, but there is a decidedly masculine feel to the shorts. They look like a pair of perfectly tailored men's trousers, cut to a fairly short length. The excess material would have been used to make the accordion detail along the hem. And with the shirt, if any other fabric were used, and the details were removed, would make a perfectly acceptable shirt for any man's business wardrobe. Throughout, it is the feminine details that make this design a winner. There is a band of ribbon along the hem, as if it is a belt, and along each side of the front and collar. It saves the outfit from being too bland, and the bold black and white striping contrasts well with the more delicate fabrics.

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Which brings us to the final strength of this collection. Herrera has some amazing details. Throughout several of the pieces, including the last one, the buttons are not evenly spaced, but are arranged in groups. On one of her skirts, black lines are sewn into the skirt to form a pattern. The spacing is perfect, and the effect is very masterful. It creates art deco sort of arrows that come to a point at the widest part of the hips. But because the lines run vertically, they do not accentuate the hips in a bad way, but instead provide a very subtle, graceful look. Although it looks straightforward, there are several things that make this an extremely complicated piece. First, the human body is not merely straight vertical lines. She had to work around the curves of the hips and thighs with straight lines and arrows. To get them so evenly spaced is quite an achievement. To make it beautiful in the process is almost impossible. Second, the lower arrows are much more complicated than they appear. There are darts sewn into the skirt exactly where the stitching for the arrow is. As such, it opens to provide an illusion of a fuller skirt near the hemline.

The fabric is kept simple because of the decoration of the stitching. Unfortunately, she uses this same effect elsewhere, such as a white dress with black lace inserts, and the result there is a disaster. It appears as though the dress is coming apart, and is barely held together with tape at the neckline.

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All in all, this is quite a stunning collection, and fortunately, Herrera knows her strengths. She has been quoted before as saying that she likes intricacy hiding within simplicity. She certainly knows how to master that.

Even when there is a rare misstep in her collection, it seems she still keeps this goal in mind, and therefore probably achieves exactly what she was hoping for all along. She always finds ways to keep her designs looking fresh and trendy, and yet classic at the same time.

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