When we want to know the hottest fashion trends of the season, we turn to Ken Downing, the man behind all things fashion at Neiman Marcus. We asked him for the lowdown on what to buy for spring and what the next month entails for this front-row fixture at fashion weeks around the world. Right now the style guru is in New York, where designers are debuting fall 2015 collections. Then he’s off to London, Milan and Paris. Such is the life.
CultureMap: Tell us what we need for spring.
Ken Downing: This spring, all roads lead to the 1970s. Romanticism, exoticism and escapism defined the runways of the world, ushering in an era of the new bohemian:
- Jet-set meets gyp-set, with maxi and midi skirts and dresses defined by ruffles, flounces and handkerchief hems.
- Boho blouses and tunics, embellished with elaborate embroidery and punctuated with patterns, prints and artisanal patchwork, allow you to embrace your inner Stevie Nicks.
- A ’70s staple, denim appears flared or tattered, torn and distressed. It looks great when worn with more denim or with the prettiness of a peasant top.
- The flat sandal and flatform are the foundation for spring’s longer lengths.
- Fringe swings and sways, from ready-to-wear handbags and shoes, giving your wardrobe immediate new bohemian credit.
- Rugged meets refined, with long and layered necklaces in strands of colorful beads, turquoise and coral, that add to the wanderlust of the hippie spirit that defines the look.
- Color takes inspiration from sun-baked shades of Moroccan spice markets: Cayenne, paprika, saffron and sage add spice to a spring/summer wardrobe for her and for him.
- Spring’s patterns and prints insist you mix, don’t match, for a look inspired by the runways of men’s and women’s collections that easily translates into the reality of your wardrobe.
- A sporty attitude gives the beat of the street to many of my favorite looks. Sneakers, skaters and high-tops lend an urban edge to the season.
CM: What shows are you planning to attend at New York Fashion Week?
KD: I attend many shows during New York Fashion Week — collections of designers who I know, love and consider friends, as well as new and emerging talents that I am interested in introducing to the Neiman Marcus customers around the country and around the world in my stores and online.
CM: How many shows a day do you go to?
KD: I attend more than 115 shows during New York Fashion Week alone, and that’s just the beginning. From New York I continue on to London, Milan and Paris, returning to the U.S. to begin my national and international travels curating fashion shows, celebrating the current season and meeting my enthusiastic customers who can’t get enough of a fashion moment!
CM: Take us through a typical day during Fashion Week.
KD: A typical day is rarely typical during New York Fashion Week, with so many shows on my itinerary. I start my morning front row and end my evenings front row.
In between fashion shows and presentations, I attend showroom appointments with my team, take press and media interviews on the collections of the day, and write trend reports from the back seat of the car. Food is a rarity; lattés are a must! But it’s all invigorating, energizing and exciting. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
CM: What new designers or collections are you looking forward to in New York, London, Milan or Paris?
KD: There are always interesting new and emerging talent that appears on the fashion calendar. In New York, I am looking forward to Gabriela Hearst and Jonathan Simkhai, who will be mounting his first runway show this season.
Keep up with Downing and his Fashion Week journey on Instagram.