The new spring season is bringing with it a new perspective. Across the board, designers are reimagining decades past, such as 1920s Art Deco detailing and the ’50s New Look, as seen through a contemporary lens. With a new season comes a new palette—for 2012 it’s sorbethued sweetness, most prominently shown in ladylike silhouettes. In New York, however, a few key trends seemed to rule the runways, both because the designers here embraced them, but also because they’re sharp enough for this bustling metropolis. Digital prints were ubiquitous, and designers such as Peter Som and Mary Katranzou looked to modern technology for a fresh take on graphics, which were as exuberant as ever. A different kind of print, primitive and earthy, shown on the runways of Donna Karan and Michael Kors, nodded to the tribal trend, which once again took center stage. In contrast, sporty looks dominated at Alexander Wang and Rag & Bone, perfectly timed for the upcoming Olympic games. Among the innumerable fresh ideas for the season, we embrace the three that best reflect a New York state of mind.

Earthy Elements
“Tribal remains a strong statement for Spring 2012, but in a more colorful way,” noted Susan Davidson, CEO of Scoop. Rich rust colors, chartreuse, yellow, and red played into the primal designs of the season seen at Michael Kors and Donna Karan. Unexpectedly, designers interpreted the trend for evening as well as day, with showstopping evening gowns in similarly arresting colors and prints. Bold accessories, such as a statement gold collar necklace, horn cuff, or R + Y Augousti’s exotic skin clutches, polish off the look. “We’re excited about tribal-inspired accessories, especially sandals,” says Davidson of the trend. One particular favorite: the wooden wedges from New York-based duo Proenza Schouler.

Sporty Spice
The first major trend to emerge from the New York shows was athletic-inspired looks. Refreshingly original and aptly timed, designers such as Gucci and Akris appropriated harness detailing, technical mesh fabrications, and classic gym clothing to create uniquely spirited ensembles. “With the Summer Olympics this year, it seems that athletic details and color are on the mind of many young New York designers,” said Alicia Singer of Singer22. “A few of our favorite designers—Rag & Bone and Rebecca Minkoff—highlighted this trend, which feels fresh and fun for spring,” added Jon Singer. Rag & Bone channeled an adrenaline junky, while Alexander Wang, in his signature urban aesthetic, reinterpreted the tracksuit, and Joseph Altuzarra incorporated parachute buckles and perforated leather into his city slicker styles. It wasn’t only the newcomers embracing the trend; there were also track pants on Gucci’s runway and anoraks at Akris.

Going Graphic
Bold, digital graphics dominated the print scene this season. From Peter Pilotto’s mosaic-like, aquatic-inspired fabrications, to Peter Som’s floral photo prints, the seasonal imagery had an edge like never before. Queen of prints Mary Katranzou designed abstracted graphics so supremely intricate that they nearly mimic tromp l’oeil, creating optical illusions for the viewer. “We really love the idea of wearing a print from top to bottom like it’s a new uniform,” said Tom Mora, head of women’s design at J.Crew. “Spring is all about color and incredible brights, and this is one way to incorporate color into your wardrobe.”

While some designers took the trend one step further, showcasing head-to-toe printed looks, those feeling a little less bold should try accessories from the likes of Pierre Hardy and Marni, who interpreted the look with recreated architectural shapes that mimic graphic designs.

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