- Associated Press - Thursday, June 16, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - The resort season is not a time for fashion to take a vacation. Resort collections, which hit stores during the all-important Christmas holiday shopping season, are a growing part of designer businesses as consumers move toward styles they can wear year-round.

The idea that people fully switch their closets between seasons is outdated, agrees Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director for retailer Neiman Marcus. Shoppers want clothes they can wear the day they buy them, he says, and resort wear typically meets that demand.

Not to mention that resort clothes also spend the longest time on the full-price selling floor, typically until mid-winter when spring merchandise moves in.

The name “resort” is a holdover from the days when brands would offer a few key pieces for their wealthy snowbird customers who’d flee cold climates at Christmastime. The modern definition, however, has evolved to be more of a code word for new, fresh merchandise.


“I’m happy to see designers really paying attention to resort, and to really put into it design and style,” Downing says. True fans of fashion know that this transitional period also gives a clue where designers are heading in the future, he adds.

Expect to see less black, more red, navy and neon, and some surf and scuba influences. Here are some highlights from previews held in New York over the past few weeks:

STELLA McCARTNEY

Stella McCartney’s mind was elsewhere this season: Hawaii. “It’s such a rich, visual place to start,” she said.

From there, she grew a collection full of hibiscus and surfer prints, deck-chair stripes, seersucker and neon-tipped accessories, giving off a joyful, relaxed vibe.

McCartney keeps it from going too much over the top, though, with consistent clean shapes.

The sportier silhouettes, including a culotte-style jumpsuit, long garden-party skirts and shorts paired with rounded capes, suited the croquet-playing models in the Greenwich Village garden where the presentation was held. The dressier outfits, including a black tuxedo with an almost tails-length jacket and skinny-at-the-ankle pants, and a white dress embroidered with bows, complemented the flutes of champagne offered at the party-like preview.

McCartney also gave a nod to the mod looks of London in the 1960s, offering a series of houndstooth looks _ sometimes mixing those with menswear-inspired pieces, such as a sunshine-yellow blazer with wide lapel and crisp shirt.

“Tailoring is updated with a new silhouette,” she explained in her notes, referring to a jacket with notched lapel. She also showed what she described as a “cropped cigarette French cuff trouser and blouses with three-dimensional bow embroidery in a palette of black with chalk or Tokyo blue with tobacco.”

DONNA KARAN

Donna Karan pays homage in each collection _ in each piece, really _ to her hometown of New York, but her resort collection seems particularly urban in its sparse, clean look and statement colors of red, black and white.

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