The unofficial test for whether an item of clothing deserves to make the jump from the store shelf to my closet's shelf is that it has to strike me immediately and it has to strike me hard.
Occasionally, that must-have-it jolt comes in the form of a vibrant color or dramatic silhouette, other times I find it in the form of a unique sleeve, but most often, what most consistently draws me in and won't let me go is when I come across a skirt, blouse, jacket or dress whose showpiece nature is defined by its well-executed texturing.
Unlike a color or a cut, texturing, when done well and done tastefully, can make the difference between a dress that, at first blush, looks ho-hum and status-quo but upon closer inspection reveals the kind of detailing that makes its wearer feel as if she's walking around in a one-of-a-kind.
A textured shoulder will be the detail that separates your simple black sheath from the sea of other simple black sheaths in your office; a Winter coat that incorporates one type of texturing along the hem and another down the back is what will earn you -not the many J. Crew peacoaters- all those on-the-street "Oh my God, your coat is so cute!" compliments; a textured neckline is the distinguishing feature that makes the Stella & Jamie LLJ pictured above miles more memorable than its boring, boxy Wilson's counterpart.
I love texturing. Always have. But what I saw on Monday in nearly every designer's Fall/Winter '08 collection challenged my longstanding allegiance toward all cuts simple and sophisticated.
For what I saw was not just a textured back or a textured hem but rather a textured back and a textured hem and a textured neck, and across the bodice, a multitude of pleats, drapes, overlays, pintucks and dramatic interruptions of each of these with other pleats, drapes, overlays and pintucks.
During my run last night, I spent the entire hour -and thus missed the first half of "The Biggest Loser," despite its being directly in front of my face- dismissing ideas of what to call this particular trend.
Ultimately, I just went for the obvious -- texture upon texture (upon texture).
Cashmere blouson sleeves meet a series of grosgrain and satin overlays on the left,
silk crepe swathed in pleated mesh, cinched by canvas and leather on the right
Mint by Jodi Arnold
Lurex shoulders and dramatic jersey draping drawn in by a bow-shaped cummerbund
Mesh-winged matte silk pleats buoyed by darted taffeta and bifurcated by velvet.
I want. I reeeeally want.
Black mesh collides with ivory quilting collides with neon leather -- an '80s explosion!