Photography by Richard Bernardin (above image); Runway images by

Hourglass silhouettes reminiscent of Dior’s New Look from the 1950s championed the
Spring 2012 runways. While exuberantly feminine and undeniably ladylike, many designers introduced a twist to their collections, marrying notions from the 1950s with contemporary themes. Prada looked to Grease-style car culture as a counterpart to her sweet collection, complete with flaming cat-eye sunglasses. Raf Simons turned to notions of purity for his very Grace Kelly-esque collection for Jil Sander. Jason Wu combined girly peplum silhouettes with graffiti prints. And Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler took mid-century architecture and design as their inspiration.

1. Ladylike fashion trends: Circle skirts


Prada Spring/Summer 2012

Prada’s Spring 2012 saw an abundance of the 1950s accordion pleats, a round silhouette that is soft and full of movement, not unlike the famous white frock worn by Marilyn Monroe in
The Seven Year Itch. Prada paired the skirts with everything from bandeau tube tops to demure knit sweaters, and the dress version featured an equally romantic fitted bodice sweetheart neckline. Dolce & Gabbana took on the shape with a garden twist with full skirts featuring vegetable and fruit prints parading down the runway — perhaps referencing the 1950s notions of domesticity.

2. Ladylike fashion trends: High waists


Jil Sander Spring/Summer 2012

A high-waisted pencil skirt is one of those garments always associated with 1950s imagery, and Dior’s New Look in particular. There is no shortage of pencil skirts for Spring 2012, from Jil Sander’s paisley printed classic below-the-knee numbers, to Proenza Schouler’s tropically printed wrapped versions. Both designers also explored high-waisted pants and shorts, both of solid and print variety. Always associated with
bombshell style, the cinched-in waist highlights — and helps create — hourglass shapes.

3. Ladylike fashion trends: Peplums


Jason Wu Spring/Summer 2012

Popping up everywhere from New York to Paris, 1950s peplums are an undeniable presence for Spring 2012. This large ruffle detail is usually attached right at the waist, whether it’s on a top, a skirt, or a dress. Perhaps the most true to the decade Jason Wu’s bubble pink pencil skirt, echoing elegant Irving Penn photographs of the era. More rigid, leather, sculpture versions appeared on the runway of Cushnie et Ochs, marrying the 1950s aesthetic with a futuristic vibe. And they even appeared on swimsuits in Marc by Marc Jacobs’ collection. In Vera Wang’s case, peplums were of the detachable variety. But why would we ever want to remove something so lovely?

For more new ways to wear ladylike fashion trends this season, read on to the next page…
4. Ladylike fashion trends: Rounded shoulders


Balenciaga Spring/Summer 2012

The 1950s, of course, are not just about what’s happening below the waist. Balenciaga championed the rounded shoulder jacket in that decade, a look that proved to be very influential this season for many designers. Its inventor, Balenciaga, referenced the shape with an
athletic take, in form of short, oversized, almost space-age jackets. Prada’s A-line pastel hued coats had a softness to them, with round shoulders accented by luxurious silk patch detailing. Dior featured this shapely silhouette in every possible way, from short silk jackets with cinched waists to three quarter length sleeve coats to exuberant silk cocktail dresses.

5. Ladylike fashion trends: Cat eye sunnies


Prada Spring/Summer 2012

Cat eye glasses much loved by 1950s Hollywood stars like Grace Kelly are also making a strong appearance for Spring 2012. Prada’s cat eye frames feature geometric patterns found on racing cars. Proenza Schouler and Prabal Gurung both reinterpret this 1950s shape with sci-fi references, with metallic detailing and exaggerated shapes. For more classic, but still playful styles, the always-fun Anna Sui brings an array of bright hues, with flirty violets and reds. This shape of spectacle is thought to be the most seductive, while also being considered to be extremely elegant, thus capturing the style of the 1950s perfectly.

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