If fashion’s about what inspires designers to create — and what motivates buyers to spend — then everyone’s going home happy this fall. From a ’40s-film fantasy come to life, to classic chic and even retro rock-star glam, distinct personal style is, well, back in style.
In other words, dedicated fashion followers can toss convention out the window. Standing in line at the bank last week, I couldn’t help but notice that the flaxen-haired, statuesque woman in front of me — a dead ringer for Grace Kelly — sported a striking black mock-halter top secured at the shoulder with a black bow, though it was merely midafternoon.
She wore her casual chic with such nonchalance that I simply had to ask, “Where did you get that?”
Her face lit up. “I just got this from Constance Boutique!”
So I beelined it down the street for a face-to-face (or skirt-to-skirt) with one of Asheville’s foremost purveyors of style, Constance Ensner, to check out the current fashion barometer.
“After a very colorful spring and summer, the new look is pared down. Lines are simpler,” Constance explains about her in-store collection. “The shift into fall is cleaner sportswear, like an A-line, knee-length skirt paired with a black cashmere sweater and boots. Halters are really happening for night … but daytime is about sportswear again.
“We are definitely seeing a lot of leather, even for daytime,” she continues. “And because there is so much of it for sale, everyone’s pricing is much more competitive. … And from what I’m reading, another huge influence this fall comes from the costumes Yves St. Laurent designed for Catherine Deneuve’s role in Belle du Jour: a real ladylike, socialite look.”
Aside from that which drapes the body, a color palette featuring spicy hues is equally important.
“The hot color for fall is cognac,” she reveals. “Last year was all about gray, but this year, I’ve got a lot of espresso, burgundy, camel, eggplant again, and a lot of orange, like paprika. And they are showing a lot of plaid, but I did just a little taste of that.”
Meanwhile, uptown (well, Merrimon Avenue, anyway), Forrest Hogestad, who runs Enchanted Forrest, professes a totally different angle on the fall lineup.
“There’s a lot of ’60s, ’70s and ’80s influence, and the ethnic look is everywhere. Women still want romantic clothes with that ultra-feminine slant, which was very popular last spring. Layered bohemian peasant skirts are good, and we are seeing lots of ruffles at the collar and at the hem. And zebra prints are hot and will stay that way through the fall.”
That’s right — if it’s roaming the Serengeti, it’s going to be slipcovering your bod this season. Fall-fashion trends dictate that you’ll be smothered, head to toe, in cheetah, crocodile, giraffe and python. Prints, that is.
“What’s hot for fall? Let me tell you, it’s all animal prints, big time — snakeskin to leopard, and any kind of pony print. You wouldn’t believe all the different prints,” confirms Dillard’s Ready-to-Wear Sales Manager Lori Jarvis.
“Python is also very big — mainly the browns and blacks. We also have red and some greens. And these prints are showing up on all the accessories, from purses to scarves.”