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Fabulous Fall Fashions

Fabulous Fall Fashions

Industry insiders dish on trends and fashion’s most energetic time of year.

By Somer Flaherty

At designer Rachel Roy’s fall ready-to-wear runway show at New York Fashion Week last February, supermodel Coco Rocha, celebrity stylist Brad Goreski and New York socialite and actress Olivia Palermo were in the audience as models wearing creations uniquely inspired by nature’s elements walked the runway.

Roy’s fall collection paid homage to the independent documentary “Women in the Dirt,” which chronicles eight female architects who have designed striking outdoor spaces. Fitting for fall, the designer took the earth inspiration and deftly translated it into wearable pieces with a palette of moss, stone and eucalyptus, lifted by jewel tones of garnet, emerald and sapphire.  “For this collection, it was important for me to mix soft hard elements and textures to create not only a balance against city life and natural environment, but also a masculine feminine balance,” Roy says. Her striking show was just one of the major events during the eight days of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York, which took place in February. The spring and summer 2013 collections debuted from Sept. 6 – 13 of this year.

“In New York, there’s so much energy during fashion week; people travel from all over the world to see what’s new and what’s next in the world of design,” says Danielle Goodman, a New York-based stylist. Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City, originally called Press Week, was created to give buzz for American fashion designers. The event, which began in 1943, held shows at various locations around the city until 1993, when most of the more well-known designers began showing at one location—Bryant Park. Seventeen years later, the event was moved to Lincoln Center, where most of the large shows still take place.

From Runway to Wardrobe

Although the runways are the launching pad for trends, fashion week designs don’t hit the stores until months later. It’s professional stylists who take the first looks—often straight from the runway—and showcase them on red carpet celebrities. Professional stylists, however, don’t just work with celebrities; their fashion prowess can be accessed by anyone.

At The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, guests have access to the expertise of stylist Elysze Held, who has more than 30 years experience in the industry as a fashion director, visual merchandiser, fashion producer and stylist. Held, who sat front row at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week’s Oscar de la Renta show, says the fall event was one of the most beautiful she has seen in a long time. “Oscar de la Renta was luxe and elegant; Lanvin in terms of fabric and cut is as modern and chic as it can be; and Stella McCartney had an absolutely beautiful show—her cuts are just exquisite and she does color like the old masters,” Held says.

Guests of The St. Regis Monarch Beach have Leslie Christen, a veteran of the fashion industry and a fashion editor for the popular Orange County e-newsletter, Greer’s OC, where she writes a weekly “Wear to Where” column to assist readers in finding the best wardrobe options for their body type and lifestyle. The Southern California personal stylist says her talents include quickly assessing clients’ fashion strengths, minimizing body challenges and helping the client to authentically express individuality and best assets. Christen’s services include personal styling in boutiques (or even in the privacy of one’s hotel room or home) as well as personalized shopping tours to discover some of the best under-the-radar shops—like one of her favorites: vintage store Macalistaire at 1850 in Orange County.

When it comes to seasonal trends, Christen says you don’t have to incorporate an entire trend head to toe. For example, neon colors often can’t be pulled off monochromatically, but most people can add pieces of neon that will make an existing outfit pop. Take trends in color and incorporate them in your handbag or shoes, she says. Louis Wood, concierge at The St. Regis Atlanta, recommends local personal stylist Robanne Schulman of Plaid Monkey as a go-to choice for guests looking for style assistance. Schulman is known for her styling work with professional athletes, celebrities and busy executives, assisting clients with everything from a sophisticated business suit to a one-of-a-kind couture gown for an upcoming gala.

“I help clients stay true to their own personal style,” Schulman says. “Clients can hire me for the day, and I’ll show up at their hotel with racks of clothing. I can also take clients shopping in Atlanta, which is a very spread out area, so it can be hard for newcomers to figure out where the best shops are located.” Schulman’s personalized style direction can take the anxiety out of shopping and traversing trends each season.

“To me what you see on the runways is like observing art—it can be so exaggerated and most stores don’t typically sell exactly what you see. It’s really a toned-down version that makes its way to us,” Schulman says. “For example, on the runway, you may see a head-to-toe leather outfit, and a lot of people might think they can’t pull that off. Instead, wear a touch of leather like a blouse with leather cuffs.”

For fall, the Atlanta stylist says the emphasis is to go big or go home. “You definitely have the usual fall and winter pieces, but we are seeing the fabrics on steroids. The leather is shiny and the pieces are brocade or gilded,” she adds.

At The St. Regis San Francisco, guests have first-class access to the personal styling of celebrity stylist, E! Entertainment Television correspondent and former Miss Teen USA Keylee Sanders of Style Studio. Sanders, a 15-year veteran of the fashion industry and a Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week attendee, says fall fashion is all about feminine silhouettes with edgy and dramatic materials. Like Schulman, Sanders says brocade and leather are the materials making a splash. Long skirts, capes, slim suits and mini sweater dresses in “interesting fabrics” are also trending for fall, says Sanders.

The San Francisco weather, which can necessitate wardrobe changes from tank tops to parkas in an instant, dictates how much of the fall trends are incorporated locally. “Learn to layer,” Sanders says. “Choose lightweight pieces and a cotton base to keep you cool. Thin cashmere sweaters or a fur vest are perfect additions.”

In New York City, The St. Regis New York has connections to the most recognized stylists and designers in the industry, such as the queen of high-end maternity wear Liz Lange and her sister Jane Wagman.

The Manhattan fashion power duo has a new website, shopafrolic.com, which now officially highlights their favorite finds and offers dressing tips and shopping direction. The two fashion insiders say Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York is always an exciting time for the city. “Even though I don’t have the time to attend as many shows as I’d like to, I love the festive atmosphere in the city and the fun dinners and parties at night,” Lange says.

“What I truly love about fashion week is the fashion on the street and in the restaurants,” Wagman adds. “I love how all the fabulously well-dressed fashionistas descend on our chic city. There is nothing more inspiring to me than a well-dressed woman.” For fall, the sisters say long, lean pants, tweed and boucle jackets and colors like burgundy are key. Lange points out the importance of never blindly following a trend. “Pick and choose those that feel like ‘you,’ and be mindful of your coloring and body type and only wear what is flattering,” she says.

“Take one piece of a trend like a boucle or leather jacket and pair it with something you feel comfy in as in jeans and a blouse,” Wagman adds.As for The St. Regis Houston, personal shoppers like Rebecca Matthews say visitors and residents have access to some of the best shopping in America, as the city has been ranked the nation’s No. 1 destination for shopping by Forbes magazine.

“It’s really because of the variety of boutiques and the wonderful malls we have here,” she says. Matthews, who has been in the fashion industry for almost two decades—13 of those years spent as a personal stylist—says clothing with jewel tone colors and color blocking patterns are a big fall trend this year.

“You’re also going to see a lot of bold prints, which isn’t for everyone,” she says. “My philosophy is to dress for your body and not for the next trend. For example, skinny jeans are still popular for fall, but not everyone can wear a skinny jean. Try a boot cut—it’s really the most flattering for everyone,” she says. As with each season, there is always a new “it” handbag. Matthews says structured, square bags—even briefcase styles—are a trend for fall. “Get a bag in a color like red or purple or green for fall. It will be transitional and easy to wear. And if you can wear it with more clothing, you can buy less and invest in a nicer bag.” At The St. Regis Princeville Resort in Kauai, Hawaii, guests don’t have to travel far for style advice. On-site at the hotel is a new Tori Richard boutique with a collection fully designed and developed in Honolulu, Oahu.

For fall, Agatha Karpowicz of Tori Richards, who is responsible for planning each collection in accordance with trends, says shades of corals, aqua-hues and turquoises are popular for resort wear for the fall season. Karpowicz says unstructured silhouettes like uneven hemlines, one-shoulder dresses and cover-up kaftans are popular and can transfer from the beach or pool to a dinner or wedding.

Resort wear trends also include full-length dresses. “A maxi dress is still a perfect and easy way to make a statement,” she says. Karpowicz, who formerly worked in fashion in New York, says one trend that (luckily) won’t be needed for The St. Regis Princeville Resort guests for fall is a coat.In Puerto Rico at The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, stylist Annie Jo Galib says a must-have fall item is the cropped pant. “If you’re going to buy one thing for fall, get a cropped trouser pant in black, gray or white. In Puerto Rico you can wear it year-round,” she says.

For local clients, Galib offers a complete wardrobe overhaul, working with what’s already in a client’s closet to assess what items can be revived and what additional items need to be purchased to incorporate seasonal trends. But visitors can also take advantage of her services via an assessment of what they’ve brought in their luggage. “I can then take them shopping at boutiques here to create outfits that really come to life,” she says. No matter which trend you latch onto for fall, Galib has important advice: If it doesn’t fit, and you don’t feel great in it, don’t give in to the trend.