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Reflections on the ready-to-wear runway

Valerie McPhail

(5/2015) If couture houses rule the fashion industry, ready-to-wear brands regulate the trends. The media and retailers are subjects of its influence, looking to bring runway trends and industry insight to the forefront of the publicís interest. Couture and ready-to-wear are two notorious runway seasons. The name of the French fashion house Chanel is commercialized on public television and in department stores, just as the name of American sportswear brand Michael Kors is referenced in lyrics on the radio. The impact of these fashion shows is that they have caught public attention through mass media. Now, both women and men desire to approach clothing and style in the same way these shows understand fashion, with personality and interaction with society. Womenís wear is the queen of the fashion world.

Womenís fashion is creative and innovative because women have learned not to take fashion too seriously. The old societal rules of fashion are hardly considered as style icons are photographed and blogged about for taking risks and showing new styles in fashion. This approach to fashion is different than the mentality of menís and childrenís fashion that dedicates style and design to the practicality of clothing. As a result, digital blogs and magazines, Instagram and Twitter accounts are captivated by womenís approach to wearing fashion. The public has become increasingly interested in what outfits other people wear and how to incorporate the latest trend in your wardrobe. This curiosity of this approach to fashion is appearing in the menswear and childrenís clothing industries as well. A womanís sense of style and fashion is her influence on the industry.

In my retail experiences, women customers are the "regular clients," those who have devoted themselves to a brand at a particular store location. And if itís not the woman, itís a man and his wife or a man seeking reassurance in his sense of style, confiding his concern for his fashion finds with a female sales associate. As for childrenís fashion, women are the customers that crowd Carterís and the Baby Gap during the busiest shopping day of the year, Black Friday, looking for cute ways to dress their children, nieces or grandchildren.

In my own personal shopping endeavors, I remember the stress I felt when I met my dad at the mall one time as my sister and I were leisurely shopping. Right after finding us scanning the sales rack at American Eagle, my dad waited patiently for my sister and I to finishing shopping, but I could sense his urgency. He did not want to shop and was ready to leave the mall. In that moment, I experienced perspective on fashion and shopping. I was initially disturbed and when I asked my mom why he acted this way, her response was, "Most men do not like to shop."

Womenís approach to wearing clothing, on the other hand, makes fashion fun and shopping exciting. Outfits have become creative experiments in the search of how to be expressive through clothing. Exploring the looks from the closing shows of New York, London, Milan and Paris Fashion Week reveals the extravagance and beauty of artistic expression through clothes. From the Marc Jacobís show that represents the end of New York Fashion week, through the Miu Miuís show in Paris, designers reveal their perspective on fashion and style. In the end, magazine editors, blog writers and socialites who sit at the shows are provided with endless opportunities for inspiration. Runway shows are opportunities to experience how designers envision new directions in fashion. After the fashion season is over, the rest of the world eagerly waits for the media to reveal the trends, so they too can express themselves through clothing.

Relating the closing runway shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris will reveal the final message these fashion capitals have to share. After all, finales are always the big, anticipated end-of-events. Marc Jacobs, Emilio de la Morena, Gorgio Armani and Mui Mui have a message for the fashionable cities they show in and for the world of fashion.

For the last couple seasons, Marc Jacobs has closed Fashion Week in New York City. This season, navy, deep purples and reds embodied the Victorian silhouettes of his fall 2015 ready-to-wear collection. The clothes brought a striking romantic elegancy. The dark colors of plaid, floral and animal prints expressed Jacobís perspective, a matured spooky sense to high fashion. The color palate paired with styling elements of the show made the show look proper, like the Adams Familyís Wednesday Adams. Slim-fitting cocktail dresses opened the show while knee length A-line skirts and evening gowns were standard looks and the trendy pieces of the collection. This collection mixed and matched prints. Marc Jacobs related furry stripes, deep plaids and light paisley to one another. One look, a tailored cropped jacket with fuzzy sleeves paired with a full-length skirt, expressed a clear perspective on the balance between a masculine and feminine bohemian design. Styled with leather gloves and boxy purses, Marc Jacobs cohesively offered New York City fashion options to dressing up for a formal event in classic schoolgirl gothic style.

Emilio de la Morena was the second to last show during London Fashion Week in February. His show was a reoccurring image of Jacobís woman, however Londonís girl seemed much younger. There was a blend between innocence and youth in his collection. Models walked the runway in metallic-colored sweetheart-cut dresses, some with velvet and sheer detailing. As the show progressed, so did the complexity of his design. The simplicity of the first looks, solid colored knee-length dresses and pleated skirts, turned into geometric pattern meeting and overlapping dissimilar prints. Emilio de la Morena brought a young spirit to the elegance of formal wear. His collection was both sophisticated and fun. The last two looks of the show were deconstructed cocktail dresses that had neon colored stripes redesigned over the chest of printed dresses. These final looks were sporty with a hint of formal elegance. The pointed strappy heel paired with the deconstructed element of design brought a youthful edge to formal wear. The spirit of Londonís infamous youthful grunge age collides with eveningwear.

Unlike the Marc Jacobs and Emilio de la Morena shows, Giorgio Armani closed Milan Fashion Week with softer colors and suits. The collection offered a sleek aqua color palate, heavy in minimal prints and tailored blazers with pant suits. In relation to the other shows, Armani brought a balance between the sophistication of business attire and the innocence of a girly strapless gown. There was juxtaposition between menswear inspired looks, cuffed and collared shirts with pastel colors and delicate beading throughout the collection. This balance in Armaniís Fall 2015 ready-to-wear show revealed womenís relation to fashion. Its relation to menswear and childrenís fashion influenced its design aesthetic. Armani brought Milan the calm before the high-energy Mui Mui collection.

The Mui Mui show in Paris had a fundamental design approach similar to the Armani show. Both shows complemented tailored menswear styles with youthful aesthetic. Overtly feminine, Mui Muiís fall collection mixed between brightly colored printed dresses and skirts paired with menís style, knee-length overcoats. The showís mix of colors and prints styled with small boxy purses brought a juvenile, schoolgirl theme to the collection. Mui Mui dressed the adventurous woman who does not take fashion too seriously.

For me, though, fashion is both fun and serious. Fashion is fun because it is creative and it is serious because it is personal. The art of dressing is a way to identify, to communicate yourself to the world. There is space for someone to become an expert on fashion and style through interest and attention to buying and wearing the clothes that makes one feel best. Experimenting with trends and various styles creates an expert on fashion. The overall message of these ready-to-wear shows teaches the fashion world about womenís wear accomplishment to balance practicality and style of clothing. Marc Jacobsí Fall 2015 ready-to wear collection in New York and Emilio de la Morenaís London show reveal the spirit of young fashion in these cities, while Gorgio Armaniís fall collection and Mui Muiís show illustrate its inspiration from the traditional tailoring known to menswear. All of these fall 2015 ready-to-wear collections showed how womenís fashion is influenced by the city for which it presents its collection, while reminding the industry to never forget that personality comes through strong style.

Read other articles by Valerie McPhail