The packed social calendar around the holidays can confound even the most organized shopper. Dress codes can range from casual low-key family gatherings to business attire for company parties and all-out black-tie New Year's Eve soirees. It's enough to make the most seasoned glamazon reach for a glass of Veuve Clicquot. The bleak economy notwithstanding (or precisely because our spirits desperately need lifting), fashion designers have given us plenty of ways to ring in the new decade. Here are five hot looks for the holidays.
DRAPING: Draping has come a long way from the time of Madam Gres, the haute couturier who introduced the Grecian gown to French society in the 1930s. Today's pleats range from subtle to on-steroids. Donna Karan placed so many pleats in one of her evening gowns, it drenched the model liquid metal. Balenciaga's draped skirts have a strength and structure that bring to mind the Statue of Liberty. And Los Angeles designer Juan Carlos Obando's draped white gown is pure Hollywood screen siren.
ORIGAMI: The Japanese art of paper folding begins with a square that folds and creases into geometric patterns. In fashion, pleats and folds create texture on everything from bodices on Donna Karan gowns to stiff structure at the necklines on an emerald cocktail number by RM Rouland Mouret and kick up the waist of a Christian Dior frock. The look is sculptural and artistic.
WHITE: Perhaps inspired by Michelle Obama's wedding-white inauguration gown by Jason Wu, white gowns are everywhere for the holidays. Polo Ralph Lauren offered a one-shoulder white silk bombshell and ingeniously uses a boyfriend's blazer to tone down the white sugary froth of ruffles and frills (pictured above). Givenchy went a little bit Halston with a jersey gown tied at the waist.
VELVET: This was the year velvet came out of mothballs. As I reported earlier this year, Gianfranco Ferre, Lanvin and Elie Saab blew fashion watchers away with their long, black velvet gowns with structured cap sleeves a la the '40s. And Aquilano.Rimondi came out with a bright red velvet belted cocoon coat that Neiman Marcus The Christmas Book calls the stuff of fairy tales.
SHINE ON: Whether it's jeweled-colored beads on embroidery at Marchesa or a gold metallic Grecian dress at Tadashi Soji, shine always works for the holidays. If you don't want to go head-to-toe, do an accent or two. Gunmetal and copper sequined skirts and leggings will have you giving the Christmas tree a run for its money.