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Spring is Big on Bows

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Spring collections invariably involve injecting winter fashion with more ephemerality - chiffons, floaty fabrics, drapey cuts, and a more generally femme approach to dressing. It's inevitable, then, that bows should also be making their way into the new spring styles. But somehow, this year, 2011 bows aren't just puffy and frilly.

Valentino is still pumping out pretty, ruffly accessories as per the norm, but so are designers less inclined to ultra feminine frills. And girlier labels like Kate Spade are toning down their bow-embellished designs. We're seeing structured bows on streamlined silhouettes, super-minimal shapes, metal bows, and more casual-chic applications of the freeform grosgrain bow, the trickle-down effect of Lanvin's lavishly slouchy and expensive ribbon- and pearl-encrusted accessories. And besides the usual wash of nudes and other neutrals, these bows are appearing on the super brights we've been hearing about since last year's spring runway shows. Sonia Rykiel has been doing brights and bows perfectly for years.

So how to wear these new bows? We propose a subtle approach focusing on luxe accessories with leather-rich bow draping. Bows are always a bit of trouble on the body. Consider wearing floaty or hi-rise skirts or wide leg pants secured at the waist with a casually tied sash, or anchor a simple asymmetrical dress with an obi style or ultra minimal metal bow belt. Or get a fun, colorful accessory to add charm to a simple outfit.

Lanvin's approach is one ideal, of course. Chloe has great bow-flourished accessories in its spring-summer collections. Phillip Lim's Edie bag is barely studded in a wash of pastel suedes, cream, and camel. Vintage structured shapes are inspiring and feel fresh. And all the fast fashion houses are taking note, so there are tons of more accessibly priced options too.
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