Gray Lady

By Sharon Mosley

July 17, 2009 4 min read


Dark hues ruled the runways and can power your fall wardrobe

Sharon Mosley

Creators News Service

Gonna wash that gray right outta your wardrobe this fall? Not so fast -- not when fashion designers are showing off their dark sides this season. Get ready to go gray with your shopping list and you'll find that there's a silver lining out there too: These shadowy colors go with everything.

"Blacks and grays are prominent and that is directly attributable to the economy and the practical mindset that has swept over the country," said Leatrice Eiseman, a color expert who predicts that we'll all be wrapping up in dark hues for fall, but we will be "stronger" for it. Just take a look at the name that Pantone, the international color forecasting service, has come up with to identify their new gray this fashion season -- iron.

"It is strong yet understated, and can even be considered the 'new black' -- a somewhat warmer gray with an undertone of brown -- a grounded color that works so well as background to so many other shades," Eiseman said.

As the Dow dips, fashion designers are sending out their iron maidens ready to do battle in the dark days ahead. But these are anything but depressing clothes. We may be in some tough times, but the runways were full of glimmering signs that we're always in survival mode and we want to look good no matter what our stock portfolios say.

Even the classics are getting a dimmer twist this fall. Burberry's newest fall lineup steers away from the British company's age-old traditional camel plaid patterns and comes up with an edgier collection stamped with ink colors that easily blend with its other black and granite combos. Burberry's metallic shearling leather coat in dark gray (that's grey for the Brits) is a fashion standout.

Take a cue from designers who played a shining role for fall -- embellishing their clothes and accessories with metallic studs, silver link chains and crystal embroideries. Go a little exotic even when wearing basic black and gray. It's the sparkling touches that will make all the difference in a gloomy mood.

Charlotte Ronson adds lots and lots of art deco beading to brighten up her dresses and blouses for fall. And the liquid gray column gowns and dresses from the Carolina Herrera and the Calvin Klein fall collections are the ultimate in lightening up a dreary party wardrobe.

But if you're a little tougher, then black leather is something you'll want to add to your fall wardrobe. This '80s classic is making a big comeback in short jackets, retro blazers, skinny skirts and pants. In high gloss, it's a bright spot on the dark horizon. And, if you're really brave, check out the black leather shorts from Miss Sixty's fall collection.

If you're a true-blue trend follower, you might think hard-core rock band, but if you're not ready to go all out on your gray days, then only a little dab may be all you need. Stick to an embroidered velvet pump, a studded crystal cuff bracelet or a sparkling leather belt.

Embracing the dark days of fashion also gives us a reason to rethink what clothes we already own. "It also makes it even easier to shop in your own closet,'" Eiseman said, "as almost everyone owns something either gray or black that can be pulled out and revitalized with a shot of some of the other brighter choices."

Michael Kors is one designer who walks both on the dark and the bright side for fall with a collection filled with black satin trench coats, glossy black leather dresses, black feathered fox vests, charcoal overcoats and cigarette trousers as well as lots of black and white tweed. He pops the murky palette with vivid hits of neon pink, bright orange and acid yellow. And in these gray days, a burst of sunshine is always appreciated.

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