Designers Raid Grandma’s Furniture For Fabric

In the Sound of Music, Julie Andrews’ character and the Von Trapp children prance and squeal ‘raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens’ to alleviate the fear of a thunderstorm and an unsure future during an unstable time. As the scene closes, a rejuvenated Julie tugs at the curtains with an inspiration for replacement play clothes for her rascal responsibilities.

As displayed by her resourcefulness and the children’s absolute delight for their new garments, desperate times call for creativity — not to mention looking to all corners of one’s closet, mind, and bargaining skills. As we gratefully emerge from this economic crisis, we once flamboyant fashionistas may have tamed our spending, but certainly not our imagination.

Similar to the famed Von Trapp clan and their curtain couture, we’ve recently seen our beloved designers use heavier fabrics which resemble nothing more than our great-aunt’s upholstery. While being somewhat logical –- thicker fabrics mean more warmth with less layers and higher durability -– we can’t help but ask: is this flattering? Or, more importantly, attractive? Shall we too be stripping our drapery and wrapping ourselves in our once window accessories? Hundreds of years of tradition and now the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and Riccardo Tisci say yes.

With just a hop, skip, and jump over to Givenchy’s Fall 2010 showing, Tisci translated this trend quite literally with wonderful brocade fabrics and lush velvets. While overall, his collection focused on 1990s simplicity, richer fabrics provided a sense of depth. Behnaz Sarafpour also used brocade in her Fall ’10 collection, which in this case easily updated a 1970s silhouette of wide-legged trousers and relaxed winter jackets.

For his namesake line, Lagerfeld ushered ladies clad in patent pants, patent skirts, patent piping, patent lapels, patent, patent, patent. While the collection was undeniably modern, I’m reminded of the plastic covers that protected my grandmother’s favorite sofa from any crumb, spill, or pull that human error could cause. High shine details offset luxurious leather jackets; much like the clear couch guard did for the wonderful handwork that lay safely beneath.

Marni interpreted prints common to our couches rather than our closets. Although fabrics weren’t heavy, energetically colored graphics on Bermuda shorts, lovely structured jackets, and long-sleeved shifts were refreshingly retro. In using these vibrant color patterns, simple silhouettes received a facelift and left you breathless.

In a time dominated by layering and lightweight fabrics, look to pairing heavier materials, a fun pattern, or ultra sheen to bring energy to a typically drab time of year. By juxtaposing these two dynamic directions, each detail will be accentuated rather than hidden amidst indiscernible pieces of clothing. And who knows, you may even find yourself singing from the top of a mountain — like dear old Julie herself.

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