From the rosé champagne sparking in flutes upon the guest’s arrival to the pink carpet runway, Neiman Marcus put on a glamorous and festive The Trend Report with their charismatic Senior Vice President and Fashion Director Ken Downing. Downing, in his current role for Neiman Marcus, travels the globe looking for trends to recommend to the luxury retailer and serves as an ambassador of style for the company where he has worked since 1989. Downing graduated from the School of Apparel Design & Development at Seattle Central, continued his education at the Fashion Institute of Technology and has become a true visionary and a major fashion icon along the way. Local boy makes more than good.
A mix of chic insight, humor and a warm personal style, Downing, chatted with the crowd easily about the trends to look for, what is happening in fashion, and how to embrace your own personal style. As each model came out, he had a hands-on approach to their look, adjusted collars, pointing out trends, and sending each model on her way with a “thank you, darling”, that was the epitome of his engaging style. Can you tell I am a fan?
We watched as Chanel, Chloe, Stella McCartney and other luxury brands swished down the runway in enviable layers of gorgeousness, while getting a tutorial on how to up your own personal style. Here is my take away from Mr. Downing:
Pants over dresses, two skirts worn together to give more volume, and jackets over jackets over layers, this was a big one. Layering didn’t just stick to clothing, either, the accessories were also given the go-big-or-go-home treatment. Layers of necklace and pearls, rings on every finger, doubled up as well, and smaller handbags hooked on the exterior of bigger bags. Downing encouraged us to “go through our own jewelry boxes and put on every ring you own”, which sound like a lot of fun to me.
Runway to Reality
Downing told us that the fabulous thing about taking style from the runway to reality is the emphasis on a personalizing the looks this season and beyond. Instead of trying to emulate others, embrace who you are, he tells us, and put your own spin on what is shown on the runway. Today more than ever the designers are celebrating individuality and the unique instead of a universal look. It is a great time to get creative with fashion and go with your own sense of what is chic and beautiful, on you.
Instead of buying and wearing different pieces for different seasons, Downing tells us to invest in pieces that you’ll love all year round, and can incorporate into your wardrobe any season. This calls back to the layering idea, when clearly that gorgeous Isabel Marant dress may need a jacket over it when it cools off. The idea of seasonless dressing is genius, and yes, it is about time. This is many of the reasons why I love this man.
|Valentino Rockstud Guitar Strap Handbag at Neiman Marcus|
A few details to make your look updated: piles and piles of pearls, larger than life sun hats, opulent shoes, including flats that have sequins and sparkle and mega chunky heels and wedges hit the runway. Round sunglasses ruled, doubled up earrings, two to each ear, and sequin and embellished clips and pins adorned hair. Guitar straps on handbags are also BIG. You can buy a guitar strap like this one and this one and use it on a variety of bags, or you can purchase on that already has the strap, like this Valentino Rockstud bag.
Mixing Prints and Giving Good Silhouette
The crazier the mix, the more it works, says Mr. Downing. Don’t fear the mixing and adding on of print upon print—it creates a chic palette that makes your look next level. The boho chic style of Isabel Marant, with her cropped jackets layered over printed ones and reigning over silky tie ankle pants, really were rock star cool. I also loved the and “Dior New Look” style jackets nipped at the waist and Chanel’s lacy feminine pieces, like the cropped pants under the classic Chanel tweed jackets.
Lovely to Meet You
Following the runway show Ken Downing stayed for photographs with many adoring fans, dispensing style advice and chatting amicably with guests. When it was my turn to get a photo, he took more than my share of his time to chat about being in our 50s and fabulous, and his lovely sense of humor and sweet compliment made my whole day. “Always be yourself”, he said, “You can quote me on that!” There is nothing more beautiful than that.