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Runway to Reality: Fall 2009

Nanette Lepore

Fall is without question my favorite season -- and not least of all because of fall fashion. While I'm digging quite a few of this season's biggest trends (though I'm still saying "no" to shoulder pads), my favorite trends for this fall have to be the feminine plaids of Nanette Lepore and the bold, oversized houndstooths of Alexander McQueen and Preen. Random factoid: Houndstooth is a wool pattern traditional to the Lowlands of Scotland while the pattern Americans call "plaid" (but which is properly called "tartan" as plaid is the woolen cloth itself) is, quite famously, a wool pattern traditional to the Scottish Highlands. So one could argue that these two Scots' patterns are really just one related trend. But enough history, let's get on with the pretty, shall we?

Mad for Plaid
Mad for Plaid

Perhaps it's because I came of age in the '90s, but I have a real soft sport for all things grunge. And so, while I may have hung up my flannels and Dr. Martens years ago, a small part of me is still really excited to see that plaid is back. This time around though, I won't be resurrecting my old shapeless lumberjack shirts. Instead, I'll be going for a more feminine take on classic tartan and will be trying a frilly blouse (whose sweetness is nicely tempered by the plaid), a fitted blazer, and maybe even a fun, flirty dress.

Alexander McQueen

Obviously, McQueen's runway show was more spectacle than reality (which is as it should be in my book), though if you remove the headgear and kabuki-style make-up, the clothes themselves are actually incredibly wearable, especially if you mix these in with some more subtle pieces in your wardrobe. What I love most about these looks is how McQueen has taken a very conservative and traditional fabric and turned it on its head by enlarging and distorting the pattern. Instead of stuffy, houndstooth suddenly becomes graphic and mod, but the conservatively cut suits and jackets still reference houndstooth's roots.


Preen takes a decidedly different take on trend, as the huge houndstooth featured in their fall collection strikes me as very British mod. The simple cuts of the clothing and the paired down styling of the models here are also quite lovely and really let the bold pattern take center stage.

Bold Houndstooth

Another great way to play with houndstooth is to do it in color, as Nanette Lepore does in her fantastic cobalt blue houndstooth skirt. For a more subtle look, why not try incorporating some houndstooth in your accessories -- I absolutely adore those Gap ballet flats and Michael Kors' gloves.

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