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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 21 July 2018

Fashion notes: Make farm-girl chic less agricultural

Stray away from the clichéd and listen to your gut – even though there’s a sort of overworked gypsy side to prairie fashion, less is often more.
A model in Nina Ricci's autumn/winter collection. Catwalking / Getty Images
A model in Nina Ricci's autumn/winter collection. Catwalking / Getty Images

Looking like your day job consists of milking cows, chasing sheep and collecting chicken eggs isn’t an aspiration of the average woman. But for their autumn/winter collections, many luxury fashion designers showed clothing with clear – and often exaggerated – nods to farm-girl fashion.

Lace-up tops with deep V-necks were shown in sheers and wools by Isabel Marant, along with high-waisted riding trousers and wide leather waist belts. At Chloé, the vibes were even more patent, when tiered dresses with ruffles and frayed hems, suede-and-lace pairings, corduroy overalls, fringed and patchwork ponchos and leather ankle boots were paraded down the catwalk. At Lanvin, there were subtler touches of prairie-inspired style, with coats garnished with luxe fringes, and oversized tassels decorating boots, belts and even ears.

Some pulled off the prairie look with enviable panache – ­Rebecca Minkoff’s girls were dressed in suede vests, quilted leather minis, oxblood fishnets, peep-toe booties and cross-body bags with thick, upholstered straps. At Ralph Lauren, meanwhile, there was an uber-chic urban feel to the collection, which showed clever layering and tribal undertones in dreamy all-white-and-cream ensembles.

Brands such as Free People have been around for a while – though such brands have always been quite niche, with their own cult followings. But if you look at the Free People website now, the denim tunics, tie-up blouses, crochet vests, suede skirts and roped belts that you’ll see on the home page are not all that out of the ordinary anymore – dare I declare them to be mainstream?

Not everyone can – or wants to – pull off a denim maxi skirt, on-trend or otherwise, nor do skin-hugging saddle pants suit the derrière of every woman. While the prairie trend may complement the horseback hobbies of some, it’s not for everyone – myself included, though there are some titbits that I quite like (the Lanvin tassel earrings, for instance). But after trying on a suede-fringed vest and staring in the mirror for no more than 30 seconds, I decided it wasn’t for me. While fringes have made a ­frighteningly powerful fashion comeback, I’m not much of an admirer. Too often they look carelessly ratty tatty, and I can’t help but feel the need to comb them, as if they need to be made into a less unkempt hairstyle.

In many ways, I find prairie style to be somewhat feathery, neither here nor there, and without a clear purpose. To add some substance to the trend, pick out tartans and plaid prints – the plaid shirt dresses in midi-to-maxi lengths that have taken street style by storm are great garments for a slightly grungy, farm-ish look, and they carry more attitude than blasé, billowy blouses. Pair one with a cool pair of embellished flat-forms for summer or ankle boots for autumn.

Don’t forget about denims in the hyped-up textile tornado of leathers and suedes. While a groovy pair of flares can amp up an unexciting outfit, a nicely fitting pair of skinnies can tone down a look that might have too many clashing elements.

Finally, if you rip off the excessive layers of boho-style faded kimonos and paisley-printed shawls, there’s something incredibly attractive about a ­basic white blouse tucked into high-waisted equestrian-style trousers. There’s an elegance to the simplicity of this kind of look, which can easily get ­ruined with the additions of a layered necklace, fringed handbag, cowboy hat and over-the-knee boots. Stray away from the clichéd and listen to your gut – even though there’s a sort of overworked gypsy side to prairie fashion, less is often more.

hlodi@thenational.ae