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Katie Trotter: To pull off minimalism opt for simple and structured

Minimalism, when it comes to fashion, is - despite what the name suggests - incredibly difficult to orchestrate.

Minimalism, when it comes to fashion, is - despite what the name suggests - incredibly difficult to orchestrate. Although not the newest of trends (the runways have played with versions of androgyny and architectural detailing since the 1960s), it didn't exist as a concept until the 1990s.

Designers such as Calvin Klein, Jil Sander and Maison Martin Margiela took the lead, perhaps exploring "dressing down" as a direct revolt against the grunge aesthetic and the excess of the 1980s. Think simplicity, neutral colours, T-shirts worn under clean and simple shifts and classic suits. Basically the design ethos focused on clean lines and architectural pattern cutting as a rule.

Considering last season was a wash of colour and embellishment, it's a refreshing change to see even the most exuberant of brands toning things down a notch and giving a definite nod to minimalism. Take Missoni (normally a rainbow of zigzags), which softened the graphic print with the use of crisp whites instead of the normal bohemian styling, or even Marni, offered a play on graphic shapes as an interpretation. Céline gave a more relaxed version on the runway with laser-cut hemlines, draped dresses and knotted tops, while Nicolas Ghesquière let go of the usual colour blocking at Balenciaga, making room for a cleaner look. Jil Sander wrapped things up by sending models down the runway in beautifully tailored dresses cut just above the knee - a new length for the season.

The trick with minimalism is in getting the cut right. More so than ever, quality is imperative, so buy the best you can afford. Cheaper fabrics will not stand the test of time, so invest in made-to-measure, as you need the fit to be absolutely perfect. A blazer that is too wide or narrow on the shoulders, or a skirt that skims the hips a few centimetres lower than it should, will throw the whole look off kilter. Again, be very careful about your fabric choices; anything synthetic won't work, as the crispness that a good quality cotton or wool will give cannot be recreated by a cheaper equivalent. While bold colours can be used as a welcome accent, whites, nudes, creams and black or navy will work best, but make sure to avoid any pattern or embellishment.

When it comes to overall presentation, simplicity is the only way to go. Make-up should be kept to a minimum - a neat, black liner and a clean red lip will add just the right amount of definition if you want to experiment at all. Keep hair straight and neat, either in a low ponytail or bun.

Again, bags and shoes should be carefully thought out - there is an art to the styling of the whole look. Get it wrong and you will simply look unfinished and under dressed. Slightly masculine shoes or an ankle boot will work well, or if you feel you need a high heel, avoid anything chunky - a nice, neat stiletto will suffice. Accessories should be kept to one bold piece, such as a cuff or a simple silver necklace, for maximum impact. Double check everything - if it isn't chic and sophisticated or doesn't have a figure-flattering cut, it has to go. And remember, structure is the key. Everything from head to toe should be timeless and, for once, anything overly luxurious will only distract.

All in all, we have quite a user-friendly trend if broken down, not to mention quite a refreshing one. Unlike many of the trends, there are no gimmicks or sweeping statements in minimalism, just clean, simple, good quality garments to take into consideration.

 

ktrotter@thenational.ae

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