Fashion Week El Paseo

Trends Get Real

“Dearly beloved,” rang the commanding voice of Prince on Friday night, instantly met with a chorus of high-pitched shrieks and cheers. Hot pink lights shimmied across the ceiling of a white tent packed like body-skimming dress. “We are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.”

On the second to last evening of Fashion Week’s remarkable 2017 line-up, the crowd seemed to be getting through just fine. Gorgeous. Confident. Tremendously social. And intensely prepared to study the most shoppable show of Fashion Week like Fulbright Scholars of a different kind.

Memorable yet wearable designs in both men’s and women’s fashions celebrated the best of Saks’ designer collections from the U.S. and Europe.

When every single look becomes available for purchase in less than 14 hours, the fun is layered with a serious mission. Mental shopping list, here we go.

Saks Fifth Avenue’s biggest runway show of the year tempted, tantalized, trend-forecasted, and teased in all the right places. (FW audiences tend to forget: the men themselves are not for sale. Bare-chested, tan, and toned on the catwalk always keeps the evening interactive with a dash of mayhem. What a few buttons can do.) Memorable yet wearable designs in both men’s and women’s fashions celebrated the best of Saks’ designer collections from the U.S. and Europe, with an eccentric finale by Italian designer, Etro.

Essential, of-the-moment details from previous nights’ shows appeared here as well, doling out a security that this week’s runways knockouts translate into winning statement pieces that will indeed get you through life’s many fashion challenges.

Good news: If you’ve been riding the wave of off-the-shoulder tops, jumpsuits, ruffles en masse, floral prints, and ripped-knee jeggings, stay the course. They’re absolutely here to stay (for the moment). More good news: Your party dresses become daytime staples when layered with a leather or denim jacket. Go pink denim for something girlish and unexpected.

Key pieces to pick up this season include a showy blouse with balloon sleeves, black leather pants (oh, you already have 3 pairs?), a cropped jacket you can’t get enough of, and a risk-taker piece in metallic silver. Optional is a denim duster or a long, striped or embroidered poncho.

Much of the show rolled out to be unapologetically black and white and red all over. Crisp, seaside looks punctuated those bolder pieces with white pants, seersucker-style stripes, and cheerful lemon yellow. Thoughts of summer in La Jolla or Monte Carlo surely added a few pieces to the wish list.

Thank goodness the high-low dress hasn’t disappeared, as evidenced in black-and-white stripes under a red leather motorcycle jacket. Flirty A-line mini dresses with skirts that swung like a cheerleader’s ponytail dominated the day-to-night category. Handbags added another lusty dimension to the event, from cupcake-sized red purses to boxy, hard-case sequined clutches.
Highlights from the men’s collection were vintage-cool satin varsity jackets, including a red one with sky blue sleeve sleeves and a palm tree on the back. The most formal of the night, a dandy with a chiseled jaw in a black sequins jacket, roused the crowd to an instant frenzy. “He’s so cute!” gushed one woman with a front-row seat. “He’s smoking hot,” her friend corrected.

To match the real-life ensembles, models adopted an air of approachability. Girls wore their hair loose in waves that bounced around their shoulders; men traveled barefoot and in bright blue sneakers.

For the finale, Etro added a global soundtrack to its romantic bohemian pieces that hugged and draped with emotive details and a powerful pull at adventurous heartstrings. A travel wardrobe generally follows travel plans. But with prints and fabrics that evoke faraway places with mysterious heritage, those Etro impulse buys might precede plane tickets for your next exotic trip. A pink kimono with pink fringe paired with loose floral pants on a paler pink background. Bitty ruffles and big graphic prints sat on a diagonal; tassels turned up as neckties, belts, and brilliantly adorned cuffs on jeans. A voluminous black cape spun with native symbols as Etro’s close.

Like a skillful dater, the show left suitors wanting more. While the last ticketholders were milling about discussing favorite pieces, a motorcade was already cruising several blocks north to the after party at Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert. Saturday’s trunk show at Saks Fifth Avenue runs 10 am.-4 pm.

Tonight on the runway, tomorrow on the racks is an El Paseo formula that works. As Prince foreboded of these accessible pieces: Let’s go crazy. “Are we gonna let the elevator bring us down?” Only for one night, Prince. Fashion resumes tomorrow, same time, same place.

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