“Don’t be afraid of sparkle and shine during the day,” was just one of the tips for tackling fall fashion 2016 given by Neiman Marcus Fashion Director, Ken Downing last week during a private luncheon at DC’s NM inside Mazza Gallerie, hosted by friend and fellow fashionista Jocelyn Greenan. Inside the Chandelier Room, Downing presented a beautifully curated presentation to showcase some of the hottest trends for fall and I must say he did not disappoint. This was my first time meeting the fashion guru whose love for fashion is infectious and his extensive knowledge on all things fashion is mind-blowing. And the icing on the cake is that he has an amazing sense of humor and realness to him, which in this industry is truly hard to find.
Elaine Mensah, Ken Downing and Yours Truly
As you may have already guessed, sparkle is IN this upcoming season and “shoes for fall are incredibly adorned,” according to Downing, so “pull out your evening shoes now!” Yes, that’s right my friends, those jewel-encrusted satin Manolo Blahniks sitting in your closet that you reserve for an evening out are no longer PM-pumps. Throw them on with a pair of skinny blue jeans and an oversized button-down or try these sparkle Christian Louboutins, shown below which Downing incorporated in to several looks during the presentation to show how unexpectedly versatile they can be.
As for accessories, “jewelry moves up this season,” Downing advised as a model strutted out wearing stacked bracelets and necklace upon necklace. Basically, the more the merrier and make sure to mix both costume jewelry and the real deal stuff, Downing suggested, for the full effect. Oh and Downing said we should dust off those broaches and pins from grandma and incorporate them in to our fall wardrobe. Put a fashion pin in the lapel of your overcoat or a broach on your sweater and you’ll be on-trend.
Oh and don’t forget to “carry your purse like your aunt Eunice,” said Downing, just like the model below. This is THE way to carry your handbags this fall, a ladylike, old-fashioned way of toting your bag…and a great forearm workout. :o)
Downing noted that he’s often asked “can I wear big earrings with a choker?”, to which he replies, “I say ‘God yes!” He also suggested asking oneself, “is there something in my closet that’s off-beat” and “if so, then wear that because that’s what’s in now.” Like the animal print jacket he paired with silk pajama pants (in the first picture of this post), you should mix and match to create the unexpected. And don’t be afraid to mix a sporty bomber jacket – which Downing said is a must-have for fall – over a gown or a chunky sweater with a ball gown skirt.
Velvet is another fall trend that Downing touched on and advised is something every woman should have in her closet this upcoming season. It’s a nod to the Renaissance Woman trend we will see for fall – bell sleeves, choker necklaces and corsets, etc.. Downing showcased a fabulous pair of velvet platform pumps by Prada throughout the show which many attendees were coveting.
Oh and did I mention, the 70’s called and they want their bell bottoms back? Yes, my friends, some of the hottest trends of the 70’s – bell bottoms, tassels, fringe – are IN for fall and “if it’s not about a Gucci bag this season, then it’s a Chloe,” according to Downing. And contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be 5’8″ to wear these skin-tight symbol of the 70’s because they’re elongating to all who wear them.
An interesting fact Downing pointed out was the relationship between the trends we see for fall and the deaths of music legends Prince and David Bowie. Downing said their deaths were very influential on the fashion world as each passing reverberated through the fashion world turning the tides for the trends we see today for fall ’16 fashion. For instance, the embellished guitar straps on handbags trend for fall was inspired by the late rock stars. So why not really get in to it and replace your cross-body bag’s strap with an old guitar strap, which is just what Downing did in the presentation. Fun!
Another trend you’ll see this coming fall is casual elegance. Silk pajama pants paired with a loose-fitted sweater as shown below by Valentino (I LOVE this look!)…effortless glamour. And who says you need an evening coat or cape for dressy occasions? Instead pair your evening gown with a more tailored day coat – like the gorgeous Michael Kors Suntan colored coat below (I LOVE this) – for a surprisingly beautiful look that’s on-trend. (On a side note, Kors has an insanely gorgeous collection out for fall!)
Statement furs are also back in this coming season.
Downing closed the presentation telling us that he “believes it’s all about the look, not about the label,” which I find to be very true…you don’t have to be Valentino or Chanel head-to-toe, in fact some of the greatest looks are ones that incorporate both high and low. I always tell my clients when building their wardrobe to remember that you want to have more classic, high-quality, higher-priced pieces than low in your wardrobe. A closet full of low-quality, disposable trendy pieces is one of the most expensive in the end because one day you’ll wake up to realize you have all these clothes that are falling apart and/or aren’t classic enough to last you through the years and you’ll wish you had splurged on more high-end, versatile pieces.
All in all it was a fabulously educational and well-curated presentation leaving me wishing for more time to hear all of Downing’s amazing fashion stories and ideas. As a stylist, I love to learn from the masters to help me grow in to being the best I can be.
Downing with (from left to right) Kay Willis White, Kristin Cecchi, Amy Baier, Jocelyn Greenan and Diane Brown.
Oh and don’t forget, just because it’s trending, doesn’t mean it’s for you. If you’re not feeling some of these trends, you can always sit this season out.