The Fall Winter 2005 Collections: Through Thick and Thin

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Please note: numbers in ( ) in the text below are links to photos. All photos by Randy Brooke except for Geoffrey Beene by Ernest Schmatolla. This article is best viewed with browser set to "full screen".

Twice a year, the international ready to wear collections unfold slowly like pieces of a puzzle. First up New York, then on to London, Milan, and finally Paris, the city where everything truly comes together, where the trends crystallize and are set in stone. It's virtually impossible to discuss New York's Olympus Fashion Week without having the perspective of what follows.

Because Marc Jacobs's New York show garnered so much attention early on (thanks to its uncharacteristic emphasis on dark, voluminous, long layers with a decidedly intellectual 80's Japanese vibe), one may have assumed that volume would be THE 'BIG' (pardon my pun) story everywhere- or the only story. Thankfully, that was hardly the case. While volume may have been a strong message at some collections, it was hardly the only message and in fact, many of the world's most influential designers ignored it entirely. Quite frankly, perhaps the best most modern and appealing clothes (from my point of view), were those that were lean and mean, almost severe, and entirely modern and chic (as exemplified by Nicolas Guesquiere for Balenciaga, Olivier Theyskens, and Ralph Lauren).

Once again, this time (as it has increasingly become in seasons past), it is virtually impossible to hitch the season on just ONE word, one trend, and one look. The LACK of one trend is THE TREND. It may sound clichéd but it's true: there truly IS something for everyone, since fall 2005 is highly contradictory, 'bi polar', schizophrenic, a study in contrasts and as a result, there are many options and choices: 'point/counterpoint' if you will. Retailers may not want to hear this because they're in the business of selling 'schmattas', but nonetheless, this is right in keeping with the way most of us buy clothes. Rather than investing in head to toe wardrobes from specific designers each season, customers carefully pick and chose and refresh their existing closets as whim and necessity warrant.

Consider this: If you don't relish the idea of looking like Kirstie Alley in "Fat Actress" by wearing exaggerated volume on volume (a la Marc Jacobs), no problem- there were plenty of designers who 'controlled', or contained volume, and then again, there were many others who were obsessed with a straight and narrow silhouette. You don't want to join the costume party and don't wish to be mistaken for a Russian Cossack or gypsy? Not to worry; chic, classic and timeless pieces were given full attention as world class visionaries reinvented perennial favorites, giving them a modern spin.

So you're not a skirt gal (like the late great Kate Hepburn who admittedly only wore skirts or dresses to funerals)? Not to worry. Pants were proposed and offered in every imaginable shape, length, and fabric. They were presented for both day and evening, either as part of that all-important pantsuit, or shown on their own. In fact, Valentino, long known for his ladylike and elegant designs (and his love of legs), was especially taken with pants this season decreeing them as the most versatile, modern, and practical solution for getting around town during the daytime.