viral fashion 2012 spring summer runways trends shopping womens pastel suit ladylike louis vuitton marc jacobs jil sander raf simons rochas pradaWhen the international fashion runways simultaneously become a blanket of pastel-tinged, dosage floral-printed, pencil and circle-skirted prettiness wrapped up in a bow, it can only mean one thing; ladylike is back. For Spring 2012 designers collectively banished the vampy, trampy, kinky-as-can-be dominatrices of Fall straight to finishing school, and boy did she change. Leather gave way to lace, hard edges were dulled and softened, and there was a seeming moratorium on anything black. Instead, the clothes presented for spring seemed cheerful, lovely, and almost comically optimistic. You’d be forgiven for thinking we’re back in Camelot-era suburbia.

viral fashion 2012 spring summer runways trends shopping womens pastel suit ladylike louis vuitton marc jacobs jil sander raf simons rochas pradaDesigners including Raf Simons at Jil Sander, Marc Jacobs at Vuitton, Miuccia Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Proenza Schouler and Rochas’ Marco Zanini delivered on the goods, offering plenty to choose from. Whether it’s Jil Sander’s elegantly spare below-the-knee sheaths or pastel plaids, Vuitton’s Easter Egg colored skirt suits and dresses or Prada’s accordion-pleated skirts and twin-sets, dressing the part of a lady is only too easy to do. More challenging, however, is making the look seem contemporary. Thankfully the designers pushing this look are prone to subverting tradition. It’s retro, but it’s retro envisioned through a completely self-aware sensibility. Even a collection as seemingly sweet, demure and goodie-goodie as Vuitton, with it’s array of pretty, almost childlike clothes, manages to avoid slipping into camp. The sweetness and delicacy of it is taken to such an extreme that it becomes almost perversely pretty and girish. Not an easy feat to pull off, no ma’am. On the other hand, Prada’s viral fashion 2012 spring summer runways trends shopping women's accordion pleated skirt ladylike louis vuitton marc jacobs jil sander raf simons rochas pradaquirks are right upfront. Those accordion pleated skirts come in bottle green and sky blue leather or fabrics so sheer you can practically see right through them. Thrown on with a too-prim blouse and intentionally cheap looking costume jewelry the look seems almost like a parody of all things considered “ladylike”.

viral fashion 2012 spring summer runways trends shopping womens pastel suit ladylike louis vuitton marc jacobs jil sander raf simons rochas pradaWhile a trend like this does pose challenges to the average non-runway dweller, where there’s a will there’s a way. Head to toe is not the way to go here, unless your goal is to look like you’ve stepped out of a time capsule. Instead, pair those pretty duds with easy hair and makeup, contrasting accessories and your tongue firmly planted in your cheek.

by Justin Friedman