viral fashion 2012 marchesa runway new york spring summer 1920s art deco flapper fringe red carpet karen elson dress 20s the great gatsbyDust off your victrola, about it perfect your Charleston and commit that speakeasy password to memory, because the 1920s are roaring once again due in no small part to the Spring 2012 collections. Polished and elegant, but imbued with a modern sensibility thanks to experimentation in textiles, interesting plays on classic silhouettes and of-the-moment styling choices, the spring runways positively echoed with homages to Art Deco. Seeing as the Jazz Age style is very era-specific and instantly recognizable, it can be easy to overdo it and land yourself  headfirst into “costume-y” territory. Fortunately, there are ways to wear the ’20s trend without passing for a wayward extra who accidentally wandered off the set of Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming remake of The Great Gatsby.

viral fashion 2012 spring summer womanswear womens fashion trend 1920s jazz age art deco ralph laurenWhile some iterations of the trend were fairly literal (most notably at Ralph Lauren, where handkerchief-hemmed skirts, sharp three-piece suits and stunning column gowns with feather boas were among the many highlights), other designers chose to put their own contemporary twists on the opulent decade. Some of Marc Jacobs’ flapper dresses were fashioned from shards of shiny, synthetic plastic, whereas others were presented in a muted, if not at times dour, neutral color palette that isn’t necessarilyviral fashion 2012 spring summer womanswear womens fashion trend 1920s jazz age art deco flapper drop waist gucci frida giannini indicative of the exuberant era. Drop-waist skirts were paired with zip-up track jackets for a street-inflected feel. Every look, however, was topped with some form of retro headgear, be it a cloche hat or a headscarf. At Derek Lam, strategically-placed cutouts and multicolored sequins made a shift dress in a classic ’20s silhouette seem almost futuristic. At Gucci, geometrically patterned boxy cropped jackets were adorned with gold Deco buttons and chains. The series of ornate drop-waist dresses to close out the show, however, were the true standouts, and for good reason. Drawing upon modern-day technology (i.e. laser-cutting leather to imitate the appearance of fringe) these spectacular pieces deftly bridged the gap between past and future.

viral fashion 2012 spring summer womanswear womens fashion trend 1920s jazz age art deco drop waist mar jacobs tulle trimmed silk radzimir dressThe most effective way to implement the Jazz Age aesthetic is by wearing one standout ’20s-inspired piece and offsetting it with modern basics. Wear a Deco cropped jacket à la Gucci with a pair of cigarette trousers and a classic pump, or pair a silk, beaded or sequined tank with a pair of wide-legged trousers for a unique take on eveningwear. You could also casually throw on a drop-waist shift or a slinky slip dress with nothing more than a pair of simple ankle-strap sandals. It can be as effortless as knotting a scarf around your head as seen at Marc Jacobs, or as extensive as fully committing with a feathered column (if you have the courage and conviction to do so, of course). Just be sure to keep your hair and beauty look somewhat straightforward — with, for example, a side parted low chignon or ponytail, and perhaps a statement lip color. Wearing finger waves and vampy kohl-rimmed eyes will make you look like a caricature in the worst way. With a less-is-more approach, you’ll be more than ready to paint the town…and all that jazz.

by Gianna Froccaro