“As we crossed the Colorado-Utah border I saw God in the sky in the form of huge gold sunburning clouds above the desert that seemed to point a finger at me and say, “Pass here and go on, you’re on the road to heaven.” — from Jack Kerouac’s On the Road
There is something about the desert that calls to people despite the dangers. What grows in the desert is beautiful in its ferocity. The expanse and swath and heat and span recall God and legend and vision quests.
And there is a desert-like beauty springing up in fashion right now. You can see it in the sand-like colors and in the windy, whispy fabrics.
As is evident to anyone paying attention the last few seasons, flesh tone clothes are IN in a big way. The naked dress. Sheer and airy and breathy and dust-colored. These are the shades of the desert at dawn and they are permeating the Spring lines.
While there is something ultra-feminine and soft about these diaphanous looks, while the colors are purposefully faded and pale, there is a remarkable strength to these looks. The softness is striking, wouldn’t you agree?
Maybe it’s that is takes guts to pull of an outfit that so obviously subverts what it means to cover up, that plays with the whole idea of clothing as cover. I don’t know, but I like it. Like it enough to write a little poem-y thing about these colors of the desert.
Dusty rose and blush and gold
Sand and ash and skin and bone
Ecru and honey
Me, you, and loving
Pale hues, parched desert nudes and
Romantic chills thru lace-like sky
Tawny hills and ruffled light
Frilly clouds and sun-bleached earth
A mauve and whispered torrent
The beachy colors of a desert dawn
The khaki, the cream, the peach, the fawn
A quick rant: Everyone else keeps throwing out the word “nude” as the descriptive term for these pale peach and taupe tones. I call BS. These are only “nude” if you’re white, and a pale white at that. And while these clothes make “naked dress” for us white girls, these colors actually IMHO look FANTASTIC on darker skin tones. For real, look how gorgeous Aminata Niaria is in this Hash dress. Sometimes it’s “sand” or “dune” maybe, or “peach” or “tan” or even boring ol’ “beige,” but “nude” is a misnomer and as a writer and logophile I cannot abide this. (Also dark skinned girls need only search for browns and earth tones to replicate the whole naked dress trend, with which, don’t get me wrong, I’m totally on board.) That is all.
A.F. Vandevorst: One of my favorites of this season and a definite inspiration for this post. Truly a woman-warrior-wandering-the-desert collection. Gorgeous earth-tone colors in sheer fabrics. Strong and interesting lines. And breast plates? I mean come on. Consistently good, shocking layering. Not the first designer recently to throw out pantlessness and sheer pants but one of the best. This is really making me think about how I can make pantyhose wearable and sexy. There’s just something about this collection that I adore madly, truly, deeply. I keep going back to this one. Takes/demands a second and third look. This is a line that can teach you how to put clothes together, inspire.
Anne Valerie Hash: Here Hash is putting her fine tailoring into mostly unflattering fits. I hate that. Like all these skirts and pants she’s got? They hit at that perfect unflattering, stumpifying length. But! HIGH TOP CHUCK TAYLORS!!! Hell to the YES. And the colors are good, I’m liking these colors. Obviously. B-
Alberta Ferretti: Light, airy and gorgeous. Another one of my favorites. Feminine in all the right ways. In other words: alluring, soft and forceful, graceful, lovely. These are soft, classic clothes and like Vandevorst this is a look at how to dress as much as a presentation of “ohh pretty” and “I want to go to there.” I’ll take one of each please. Recalls for me too this collection, which is good as that was a memorable one.
Bruno Pieters: Clean but far from simple, these naked dresses take tailoring to the forefront. No one’ll even notice your nipples are showing. I didn’t pull them for this post but you’ll find lots of gorgeously accomplished, stark white and black in this collection too.
Julian Louie: While it’s slightly hit or miss for me, there’s a nice span but consistency of color choices in a mostly classic collection. The cuts and lines are interesting and wearable, and the geometric touches contrast nicely with the draping.
Valentino: A gorgeous collection of mostly party (read: shorter length) and frilly dresses. I think Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli are doing a great job running the historic house. This collection is covetable from start to finish… and not a red dress in sight. Instead we get lots of these desert tones and dove greys. And the shoes in this collection are out of this world amazing. I already threw them in the post I did in tribute to J.D. Salinger’s Esme, you can see them in the third look.
All fashion images from style.com.
Kelly Daugherty is an incredibly talented San Francisco photographer. You can find over 600 beautiful photographs on her website, many of them portraits, meaning landscape isn’t even her specialty, meaning these are even more impressive. You can also purchase prints from her etsy.com page here.