Spring 2010: Dusty Desert Dawn

Mojave Desert, photo by Kelly Daugherty

“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

Valentino Spring 2010 RTW

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.

A.F. Vandevorst Spring 2010 RTW

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.

Bruno Pieters Spring 2010 RTW

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.

Anne Valerie Hash Spring 2010 RTW

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?

Alberta Ferretti Spring 2010 RTW

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.

A.F. Vandevorst Spring 2010 RTW

Dusty rose and blush and gold
Sand and ash and skin and bone

The super Karlie Kloss in Alberta Ferretti Spring 2010 RTW

Ecru and honey
Me, you, and loving

A.F. Vandevorst Spring 2010 RTW

Pale hues, parched desert nudes and
Moonlight-colored mornings

These neutrals are the best conduit through which to shoot the neons and brights into your wardrobe, as can be seen in Issey Miyake Spring 2010 RTW.

Romantic chills thru lace-like sky
Tawny hills and ruffled light

I love, love, love the make-up at Julian Louie.

Frilly clouds and sun-bleached earth
A mauve and whispered torrent

Alberta Ferretti Spring 2010 RTW

The beachy colors of a desert dawn
The khaki, the cream, the peach, the fawn

Mojave Desert, photo by Kelly Daugherty

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.

Am I totally crazy to crave lace pants? Valentino Spring 2010 RTW

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.

Mojave Desert, photo by Kelly Daugherty

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10. Hash Out

Click here for the complete collection on Style.com.

“I had this idea to do something about personal clothing, memory, and identity, so I started writing to people I admire and asking them to send me something of theirs to transform.”

Okay, this look is actually my #1 of the too few pieces that Anne Valerie Hash offered up in Paris last week.

Anne Valérie Hash is the new kid on the block, she’s only been doing couture since 2007, so it may be mean-spirited to put her last. But here’s the thing, her Spring 2010 ready-to-wear show was very impressive (despite some stumpifying1 skirts). The look was well-defined and cohesive. The color palette stuck cleanly to black and bone, the proportions were interesting and wearable, and the whole thing came off finely-tailored, -crafted, and -conceived. Plus, converse are always cool. (Just follow the purple hyperlink to pull back the curtain on that collection.)

See, this is what I mean. I just dont' get this. It seems more like a garment that would win a Pass on Project Runway than complete haute couture.

Her couture here, on the other hand, comes off slap-dash and limited. The concept is awesome (see the above quote) but the final product doesn’t hit the mark. What was chicly oversized in her latest RTW2 just seemed too big for the models on the couture runway. The use of sheer fabrics isn’t as impressive as it was in RTW and the materials don’t read extremely lush. Which I think they should in high fashion.

Another OK kid entry from Hash.

In general, I am impressed by her work and look forward to her future lines. This one just didn’t do it for me.

1. “Stumpify” is a term coined by the fug girls to describe dresses, skirts, etc. whose length, shape, or fit conspire to make the wearer appear shorter and stumpier (natch) than she should. Beware the stump, ladies.
2. FYI, RTW=Ready-to-wear. ICYDK.

All images taken from Style.com.