YEAR-IN-REVIEW news reports made it painfully obvious that we’re living in grim times. But women’s fashion, at least as far as the resort collections go, is looking determinedly cheery. Many designers went literally over the rainbow, opting for variegated stripes on everything from knits to stiletto pumps.
At Sonia Rykiel, where stripes—rainbow and otherwise—have been a staple since the late 1960s, artistic director Julie de Libran revived them in boxy jackets and mini shift dresses. London-based designer Jonathan Anderson did parti-colored knit dresses for his J.W. Anderson label, while Karl Lagerfeld sent K-Pop-inspired candy-striped frocks down the runway for Chanel.
It’s still early, but so far, women have responded well to the right kind of rainbow. Exhibit A: Gucci’s cashmere-and-wool poor-boy sweater, which sold out quickly at e-commerce site Matches Fashion. Its success might reflect creative director Alessandro Michele’s decision to mute the colors slightly, instead of adopting a strict ROYGBIV palette. The pullover, said Matches buying director Natalie Kingham, is also a relatively easy-to-wear entree into the trend.
More literal interpretations include Anya Hindmarch’s rainbow-adorned leather handbags and leather rainbow stickers (intended to be affixed to a phone case, another bag or whatever your heart desires). “I’m obsessed with rainbows,” Ms. Hindmarch said. “I’m a great believer that fashion should make you smile and lift your mood in some way.” The British designer traces her rainbow crush back to the stickers she once put on her school notebooks to assert her identity in a sea of uniformed classmates, but cautions that the trend must be exquisitely executed to override the kitsch factor. There’s no danger of that here: Ms. Hindmarch’s wares are made by third-generation Florentine artisans using a no-stitch technique called alta frequenza that the designer compares to marquetry.
Sonia Rykiel’s Ms. de Libran also acknowledged that it’s tricky to keep the rainbow look refined. “To make it chic was a challenge,” she said. “You need to calm it down a bit. It has to be worn in a way that’s real, not gimmicky.” She did so by breaking up stripes of bright color with lines of black—a signature of the label—and then further leavened that graphic intensity by pairing her rainbow jackets with casual pieces like jeans and sporty tank dresses.
A Parisienne, she said she’s admittedly a “dark colors person,” more apt to reach for rainbow stripes when vacationing in a tropical locale. “I think when it’s sunny, when you have a bit of a tan, it’s a little easier,” she said. “I’ll wear [rainbow pieces] with denim or a bathing suit.” Why bother with the risk at all, one might ask? Colorful stripes, said Ms. de Libran, “bring a sense of humor, of joy.” In other words, a wearable antidote to all that bad news.
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