An Evening with Ken Downing at The Bravern

Models in looks from Balenciaga to Zac Posen strutted down the runway to Glee’s Power of Madonna soundtrack at the Bravern Residences’ Terrace Garden. As the models wowed the crowd with their beautiful attire, Neiman Marcus’ Senior Vice President Fashion Director, Seattle-native Ken Downing, lighted up the room with his commentary on each look. This evening was all about Spring and upcoming Fall trends.

The first wave of models sported military-inspired looks that are meant for both Spring and Fall wear. Many of these military looks also had a tribal twist, also known as urban safari. Models wore varying shades of green: olive, fatigue, khaki, forest and sea foam, you name it! Body conscious cargo pants (by Stella McCartney) were paired with delicate tunics. Men’s military looks were done with camouflage inspired ties, super casual shorts paired with shucker boots.

As for spring accessories, more is better. Stacking bangles is a must. Bangles of varying sizes, colors, materials, can be mixed-and-matched to create a stunning dramatic look on any lovely wrist. The stacked cuffs that many of the models were sporting, as Downing informed the crowed, were created in Africa that are now sold exclusively at Neiman Marcus. Evening bags for daywear was another popular trend featured, as well as, feathered jewelry. However, the most popular trend for Spring and Fall are multitude of pearls. Pair faux pearls with real pearls and long strands with short. Pearls are not just for the mature  (ahem, Barbara Bush tends comes to mind) set but for all aged-women and for evening and daywear! Another popular trend for Spring and Fall are boots and there are boots for every mood you are in. Fashionistas can select either from wedged-heeled, over-the-knee, to the knee, or flat boots. Now there is no excuse for not sporting some killer boots!

Military-inspired looks later gave-way to sequined glamour. Most women shy away from donning sequins during the day fearing that they are simply meant for a night on the town. Ladies, no longer fret and bust out those sequins in the Seattle sun (err, rain). A leopard print cardigan with sequins was paired with cropped pants, wedge heels, and a trench. The touch of sequins definitely gave the look a sophisticated pop of swank.

Another popular trend for Spring and Fall that Downing touched upon was denim. A Georgio Armani jacket woven to look like denim was followed by another Armani demin-inspired pantsuit ensemble. Similar to the jacket, the pantsuit itself was made of linen that was woven to mimic denim. Models displayed shoes and handbags from Prada that from afar look like the denim but upon closer inspection were not made of cotton but simply made to look as though. Stella McCartney bell bottoms also gave a 1970s flair to the denim trend. A Balenciaga color block dress was one of my personal faves. The dress was topped with a shimmering trench that could take a gal from day to night.

As with the Armani linen pant suit, menswear-inspired clothing was seen this past February during the Fall/Winter 2010 runways. The sleek tailoring paired with feminine touches such as pearls and/or chiffon ruffled tops were seen throughout the evening. A beautiful example of this masculine and feminine ying and yang was seen with a tweed Chanel jacket that was paired with multiple strands of pearls. Once again demonstrating the contrast of tailored menswear and feminine flair was a black Chanel pantsuit paired with a cobweb-inspired pearl necklace by Vera Wang. Downing also explained how many designers found inspiration from past Yves Saint Laurent collections. Designers are now channeling the legendary and influential designer’s suits with more fitted waists and narrower pants.

A trend for both Spring and Fall that Downing emphasized was the nude/blush tones. A 50s-style full skirted blush-toned Prada dress and nudes pumps showed the audience different ways to play with the trend. Downing emphasized that nude platform shoes are a must in every girl’s closet. The shoe will add sophistication to any Spring or Fall outfit. Icy pastels, explained Downing, are quite a popular trend this Spring, as displayed with an icy pastel blue one-shouldered Micheal Kors dress.

After the runway portion had wrapped up, clothes were placed on racks so that all attendees could take a closer look at the finer details of each outfit. Downing made it a point to meet and say hello to all who wanted to meet with the gregarious fashion director. While speaking with him, he was quick to point that Seattle once had a vibrant fashion scene and that his hope is for Seattle to once again foster the growth of designers and brands alike. With fashionable Seattle natives like-Ken Downing, it seems like his hope might not be too far off

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