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American Sensibility: The Best of New York Fashion Week

Harriet Mays Powell sums up the highlights from spring 2014’s strongest, most thought-provoking collections

Next spring, get ready to channel fashion from the ‘90s. The clean minimalism espoused originally by Calvin Klein, and later by Helmut Lang and Jil Sander, dominated New York runways. This streamlined simplicity evoked a mood of effortless calm: The clothes were less uptight than last season, no nonsense and wearable, yet also seductive without being overly sexy. In short, the collections had a very American sensibility.

White was the dominant color, supported by black and the neutral tones of gray, cream or beige. When color was introduced, it was often pastels touched with black, which kept the look sleek—but never sweet. Vibrant blues were the chief counterpoint to this homogeneity.

Clothes have been moving away from the body in recent seasons, and spring is the perfect time to add even more diaphanous and fluid fabrics. Floaty silk chiffon layers in below-the-knee lengths abounded but were graphically grounded by geometric prints or optical illusion patterns. Bare midriffs were ubiquitous and added an element of athleticism to many collections.

Yet particularly noticeable for spring was the inclusion of cold-weather clothes, especially coats. What a novel idea to be able to buy something in a store and to wear it the same day. The first deliveries of spring 2014 arrive in stores in February, so it makes perfect sense. Is this American practicality trying to correct the crazy cycle of fashion?

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