Fall fashion 2014: We predict what 424 Fifth items will sell out
It’s impossible not to be charmed by Marie Holman-Rao. The chief creative officer for 424 Fifth, the private label for Hudson’s Bay and Lord & Taylor, has a warmth and charisma that are inspiring. “I’d crawl across broken glass for her,” laughed Jessica Richards, director of colour and concepts for the brand. “Marie is amazing to work with.” Holman-Rao has also had amazing success with the line’s first outing this past spring. “The
birdcage skirt and the laser-cut skirt sold out, as well as the coming-and-going sweaters and many other pieces,” Holman-Rao told me when she was in town last week to unveil the fall/winter collection. “In the middle of spring season, I had a call from our CEO, Richard Baker, and he said: ‘Congratulations! I love the ads, the windows, and now I want you to take it to the next level. I want you to put more into the garments and into the fabrics—and you can make it more luxurious and a little more expensive.’ When someone says ‘more luxurious’ to me, I run with it!” No need to worry, though. You won’t have to get a second mortgage to pay off your shopping spree. The collection ranges in price from $49 to $300, with a few notable exceptions, like the $899 cashmere-wool double-face coat. “This is the favourite look from the design team. It screams ‘luxe’! We adore it. It’s made in the same factory where
Max Mara jackets are made, so they know what they’re doing. It’s perfection.”
There’s another jacket that Holman-Rao designed that’s beyond perfection. Check it out.
In case you didn’t get the fall/winter style memo: Capes are a thing. Huge. That’s also the problem with capes. They tend to be so huge that you’re not quite sure what to do with all the fabric, and how do you throw a purse into the mix? Holman-Rao wrestled with that design quandary and came up with the hybrid men’s trench/cape.
“This isn’t a Superman cape,” she explained. “It’s not all over the place. It has a narrower silhouette and looks like a men’s coat in the back. And you can actually put your purse on your shoulder. I’ve always struggled with that, so I wanted to provide a solution for women. I hope I get the Nobel Prize for this! I mean, it’s important to know what to do with your bag when you’re wearing a cape!”
The key print…
This moody rose floral is the signature print for the fall/winter collection. Richards said she was drawn to the fabric because it felt modern but still iconic to the Lord & Taylor brand. “I also love the rich, deep colour,” she explained. “We came from a season of really bright colours, so it was nice to take it to a more sophisticated place. The amber-green sweater paired with the skirt was inspired by a picture I saw of a girl wearing a skirt with a grungy sweater. It’s the only real pop of colour in the collection.”
The new suit… Holman-Rao also introduced another design innovation this season, one she calls "the New Suit." The pinstriped fabric paired with the Chairman Mao silhouette is a delightful capitalism-meets-communism fashion twist. Holman-Rao was wearing the tunic and slim pants combo that night, and she looked exactly like the woman she described would love it. “It makes her feel like she can be in control of the room without looking totally suited up," she explained. "It’s easier to wear—and it’s more fashionable.”
The "emotional" must-have buy … There are practical buys, and then there are emotional buys…. Richards told me that this collection has a number of items that will be catnip for the emotional shopper. “This is a woman who loves fashion and is attuned to how it makes her feel," she said. "There was a time when she just looked at the price because of the economy, but now she’s ready to make some investments because they last longer and make her feel better. Two of the most emotional items will be the jumpsuit and the burned-out-rose skirt. The jumpsuit is very chic and sleek. It’s not just something for club night; you can wear it during the day—especially with the cape.” The skirt, which is a wool blend, looks heavy, but it’s remarkably light. Holman-Rao calls it a “real engineering feat.” I’d say she has another Nobel Prize winner on her hands.
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