Day and Night

– By Thomas Dai –

 

Vogue September 2010 Issue, "Tender is the Night," Photo by Steven Meisel

While trends in daywear come and go with astounding rapidity, fashion’s modus operandi for eveningwear seems almost stubbornly unmoving. Galas have been dominated for years by beaming starlets in columnar gowns in a saturated primary color or some variant shade of blush, and paired with tasteful yet unexciting shoes. Sometimes, an intrepid stylist may convince her client to don something a bit more daring–think Maggie Gyllenhaal in leopard print Lanvin or Cate Blanchett in lilac Givenchy–but even these more “avant garde” pieces still toe the line of conventional evening wear. In other words, wildly printed or not, a gown is still a gown.

Oscar de la Renta Spring 2012. Photo Source - Style.com

But the times have been a’ changing. In recent seasons, designers have shown a newfound interest in producing clever alternatives to the tried and true gown for evening. Many of these alternatives involve pairing pieces usually relegated to day (think tanks, tee shirts, even sweaters) with long and sinuous evening skirts for a look that feels fresh in its dissonance. Sure, I was put off at first when I saw the plain white t-shirts paired with extravagant ball skirts that Raf Simmons designed for his influential Spring 2011 Jil Sander collection, but after my eye had adjusted to the shock of the unexpected, I found that I quite loved the look. Sure it felt casual (perhaps too casual for fashion classicists) but at the time, that thrown-together elegance felt modern and relevant. If anything, it was at least a departure from fashion’s lockstep.

Alexander Wang - Fall 2011

The trend has continued on strong for Fall 2011, with Alexander Wang juxtaposing spliced evening skirts in shimmery satin with fuzzy, oversized sweaters and Haider Ackerman pairing tailored leather jackets with sleekly contoured long skirts. Perhaps a precursor to the trend, Tilda Swinton was seen gallivanting about Cannes in a crimson Haider Ackerman jacket and evening skirt number a few years back– a daywear-gone-night look she repeated at the 2011 Golden Globes by donning an androgynous white shirt with a pale yellow Jil Sander ball skirt to perfection.

Where special occasion dressing is concerned, the showstopper gown will never die, and who would want it to? Yet it’s still refreshing to see designers providing equally chic alternatives for those edgy prom queens and antsy celebs who want to ditch the unnecessary taffeta yardage and dive into their separates drawer for their night out on the town.

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