The collections were hijacked by headlines of impending economic doom, but credit crisis or not, the shows went on. As ever, they produced enough sartorial derring-do (geometric construction, goddess dressing, a gloriously trashy eighties revival) to tempt even the most prudent among us to unlock our wallets. And failing that, there were even some real-life notions, including a few fresh takes on dressed-up athletic wear. Here, the season's top trends
trash and vaudeville
DEPRESSION CHIC TREND
Who needs economists? With an insight that's downright uncanny, designers worked both sides of the crash of 1929, turning out glittery flapper frocks (Alberta Ferretti, Aquilano.Rimondi) and faded sack dresses (Burberry, Bottega Veneta) in equal measure. On the one hand, Jil Sander's Raf Simons fringed not just dresses but suits, too; on the other, Marc Jacobs found himself at home on the prairie.
GEOMETRY LESSONS TREND
Call it living in 3-D. This season, designers indulged their urge to bend, fold, twist, and otherwise manipulate fabric in ever bolder (and bigger) ways. Sleeves at Dolce & Gabbana evoked Minnie Mouse ears, while the dresses at Calvin Klein gave new meaning to the term boxy. Even Oscar de la Renta experimented with the trend, whipping up skirts with a permanent kick ruffle above one knee.
GODDESS WORSHIP TREND
In shaky times, it never hurts to go with what works. And what works is goddess dresses. Light and airy at Marchesa, like liquid mercury at Yves Saint Laurent, and accented with jewels at Malandrino and Monique Lhuillier, Grecian draping made waves on the runways, and it'll generate plenty of heat on the red carpets, too.
MARRAKECH EXPRESS TREND
Ali Baba pants at Ralph Lauren, djellabas at Gucci, turbans everywhere from Dries Van Noten to Paul Smith—the Spring runways were as shimmering and vibrant as a Moroccan souk. And there were as many slouchy, sexy silk jumpsuits as there are stars in an Arabian night sky.
SPORTING GOODS TREND
John Galliano flashes his six-pack abs on the catwalk, and there's a certain American mega-talent who'll flex his pecs for anybody with a camera. If designers have their way, we'll all be getting in shape come spring. Running pants, hoodies, and bodysuits hit the runways at Louise Goldin, Missoni, and Michael Kors, respectively, while glorified boxing gear made an appearance at Kris Van Assche. Not that we're advocating breaking a sweat in these clothes: Utilitarian they may be, but they're much too pretty for the gym.
TRASH AND VAUDEVILLE TREND
Leave it to a new generation of designers—Proenza Schouler, Alexander Wang, and London's Meadham Kirchhoff, included—to revitalize the eighties, a decade most of us were happy to say goodbye to forever. Shoulder pads? If Balmain's Christophe Decarnin is involved, bring 'em on. Ditto ripped denim and shredded lace. They're back, all right, but these aren't the Wall Street eighties; this time around they're positively 8th Street.