Colgate Couture: To Trend or Not to Trend

The second week in September, as you very well may know, was Fall Fashion Week in New York City, where ready-to-wear and couture lines were shown for spring 2010. Magazine editors, celebrities and big time buyers were abound, each proclaiming a new sense of “optimism” on the runway. Last fall, right before the presidential election, everyone in fashion was uttering the exact same sentiments. And although encouraging public excitement and support for the fashion industry might stay the same season after season (Anna Wintour has seen a “Renaissance brewing” for several years now), there are always notable hits and misses that spring from the tents and into public discourse.

A changing of the seasons can also mark a change in one designer’s direction and even acclaim. Once a major hit for showing flirty frills on a fall runway can turn into a total flop with blast-from-the-past menswear for spring. But who really determines whether a designer’s work should stay or go? Why did we all tuck into skinny jeans a few years ago and now opt for slouchy boyfriends or rips and dyes when making a statement? Even designers can get sick of their own trends, so why are we so insistent on following them?

Let’s take Marc Jacobs, for example. Even the most reluctant fashion followers can recognize his name and know that he is the face of Marc Jacobs and the diffusion line Marc by Marc Jacobs. He is notorious for his irreverent advertising choices and tumultuous personal life. More importantly for us, he is time and time again daring in his fashion choices in a way that almost guarantees a few mistakes.

Following his show last week in New York, Mr. Jacobs proclaimed that he is tired of seeing young girls donning black and studs because “its not such an individual expression.” Ironically, his show for fall 2009 was a dark leather and lace tribute to the eighties, full of neon and metallic attributes, shoulder pads, voluminous velvet and teased hair. He claimed his inspiration came from “thinking about the good old days in New York,” but fashion critics seemed to agree that his sense of the past was certainly not their own.

So perhaps Mr. Jacobs wants to wipe away every now ill-fated memory of his leather years, past and present, to rid the sidewalks and magazines of every memory of the show gone wrong. Or perhaps he is on to something – a trend is just that because we all buy into it. I write this article with my own black leather slung over my shoulders and still ogle over the latest creations made of the fabric. To me, leather is hardly a trend, but a staple. While to others, it may feel forced or ostentatious.

If you don’t like leather any longer, join the ranks of Mr. Jacobs and just don’t trend. Although Jacobs is a hugely influential designer with worldwide acclaim, no one was rushing out to buy his neon metallic blue bustier and saddlebag acid washed jeans. The show didn’t end his career, but it certainly didn’t start an eighties revival. Although the editors spoke first about the failure, it was also you, his customer that just said no. Jacobs got the memo.

His show for spring 2010? Exquisite. And because of it, I know that by the time the snow melts, some smart girls will try out neutral ruffled leggings and pastel sheer Aladdin pants. Long before the spring issues have come out I have picked my favorites and you can do the same. Trust your instincts; choose when to trend and when to say, no more!

Contact Zoe Gordon at [email protected].