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Good models to watch

Chico’s, White house black market, Kektus, Annaj jackets, Papillon ———

Designing “TERMS”

TERMS:

20 best fashion blogs to watch

20 best fashion blogsMonsoon Lingerie

They’re sharp and witty – and so influential that these days they get to sit on the front row at the catwalk shows. They’re the fashion bloggers. Here’s our guide to the ones you’d be fools tos.

By Glenn Waldron

 

Susanna Lau, the creator of Style Bubble, is given a front-row seat at Chanel shows Photo: STYLEBUBBLE.TYPEPAD.COM

 It’s taken a while but fashion has finally woken up to the internet. Online shops such as Asos and Net-a-porter are booming, brands such as Yves Saint Laurent are using short YouTube-friendly films to showcase their designs, and fashion designers are Tweeting like there’s no tomorrow.

In the midst of this bold new landscape are the bloggers – providing commentary at the click of a mouse. Whether they’re posting catwalk images live from Paris, drooling over the latest Balenciaga wedges or writing about Lindsay Lohan’s dress sense (or lack thereof), they have become an important part of the industry and a voice for a new generation of style aficionados.

‘Right now they’re at the forefront of fashion news and gossip,’ says Isaac Lock, the deputy editor of Love, the new magazine from the super-stylist Katie Grand. ‘Pretty much anything new hits the blogs first nowadays.’

20 best fashion blogs - Susanna Lau

Indeed, some blogs aren’t just breaking news, they’re making it. Late last year when the designer Marc Jacobs allegedly stuck his tongue out at the journalist Suzy Menkes on the New York catwalk, it was Cathy Horyn, the fashion critic for the New York Times, who fuelled the scandal with her blog posts on the Moment.

While blogs such as the Moment and Catwalk Queen are fantastic for delivering a daily fashion fix, it’s the more personal sites that are receiving most attention.

Bloggers such as the Sartorialist and Style Bubble – both about the blogger’s individual take on fashion, from a self-confessed amateur point of view – have become a sensation.

The Sartorialist was named by Time magazine as one of the most influential forces in design, and Susanna Lau, the creator of Style Bubble, is given a front-row seat at Chanel shows.

So what’s the secret to a great fashion blog? As Lau says, ‘It isn’t necessarily about providing information, but having an individual voice. It’s really important for you to stand out.’ Here, then, are our favourites…

While many bloggers like to remain anonymous, Diane Pernet positively welcomes the attention. A true fashion eccentric, the American-born journalist and editor is frequently spotted on the front row of fashion shows dressed head-to-toe in black with a voluminous veil. Based in Paris for the past 20 years, she blogs all about young talent – it’s a great place to spot a future Alexander McQueen or Raf Simons.

Bryan Boy is a star. On his diary-like blog he sounds like a giddy fashion-obsessed teenager, dreaming of Lanvin trainers and next season’s clothes by label-of-the-moment Balmain. In real life, however, the 22-year-old from Manila has become a serious industry player – today Bryan is flown to the international shows, all expenses paid, and hangs out with Christopher Bailey, the Burberry designer. Oh, and Marc Jacobs has even named a bag after him.

One of the first fashion blogs on the scene, Catwalk Queen began as a labour of love for the London College of Fashion student Gemma Cartwright. Today it boasts more hits per day than Vogue’s website. Great for celebrity style gossip, secret sample sales and exclusive fashion collaborations. It even has its own YouTube channel.

‘Real people on the street can be just as inspiring and creative as top models in magazines,’ says Yvan Rodic, the man behind the street-photography blog Facehunter. Always travelling the globe on the lookout for new subjects on the streets from Reykjavík to Vienna, Rodic is more interested in personal style than in keeping things on-trend. It’s well worth a visit just to see the sheer variety of retina-popping looks on display. ‘It’s eye candy for the style hungry,Y he says.
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Whether she’s lusting after the new resort collection from Giles Deacon or a vintage Jean-Paul Gaultier bustier, Elezabeth Spiridakas has a love of fashion bordering on the obsessive. The fact thit she can)99t actually afjord most of the/items she writes about only adds to the charm of her blog. Currently on a road-trip across Europe and America, Spiridakis seems to spend most of her time moving from one charity shop to the next. Such is her clout that she now gets recognised everywhere she goes.

For a quick fix of celebrity fashion disasters, Go Fug Yourself can’t be beaten. The creation of Jessica Morgan and Heather Cocks, the blog rounds up the latest paparazzi shots from the red carpet and passes judgement on the good, the bad and the ‘fugly’ (a merging of ‘ugly’ and another, less print-worthy word). Comments range from the cruel – in one shot Lindsay Lohan is said to resemble an ‘Easter bunny caught gnawing on his own chocolate-egg stash’ – to the even crueller, but all done with a brilliant sense of humour. Proof that fashion really has no mercy.

The photographer Tommy Ton gives good shoe. Like the Sartorialist, Ton shoots fashionistas on the street, but for the 25-year-old Canadian the focus is on footwear. If you want to know which styles the high street will be copying in six months, then this is the place to look. Jak & Jil has become a big success, with 30,000 hits per day. In his hometown of Toronto, one department store has even created a Tommy Ton mannequin.

When Sir Philip Green announced plans to launch Topshop in America every newspaper and magazine was beaten to the scoop by Liberty London Girl, an anonymous British fashion editor living in New York. Her blog doesn’t just trade in great fashion gossip, however; this girl blogs on everything from the fashion world’s prejudice against big busts to last night’s bad date, all with a big dollop of very British humour. If you’ve ever wondered what it must be like to live a real-life version of The Devil Wears Prada, this is probably it.

Pippa Brooks is the coolest mum on the net. A co-owner of the boutique M Goldstein, DJ and former pop star, she’s also the mother to seven-year-old twins Joe and Duke. Her blog covers their impeccably dressed adventures around London. ‘They dress themselves, can peel carrots, write stuff and have all sorts of opinions of their own,’ she writes. For anyone trying to balance the creative with the domestic – and still have fun – her blog is a must.

Are you wondering what Michelle Obama is wearing today? Then check out MObama Watch, a day-by-day rundown of First Lady fashion. Alongside this brilliant guilty pleasure, New York Magazine’s blog offers a host of stylish attractions – from video look-books with Daphne Guinness to catwalk reviews. Its guide to the best buys of the season – right now they’re loving Diane von Furstenberg’s Sweetheart Pant – is also bang on the money.

Working from her rented studio-flat in north London, Catherine Kallon, a 34-year-old entrepreneur and ex-PA, is taking on Hollywood with her blog. The site itself is a mix of style news and ‘who wore it best’ vote-offs. But it’s Kallon’s photographic memory that has made the blog such a hit – when Angelina Jolie wore a Max Azria dress back-to-front at an awards ceremony this year, Kallon was the only writer to identify it. This has made her a favourite with the glossies, and attracted fans including Stella McCartney and Miuccia Prada.

One of the blogosphere’s biggest fashion icons, Susanna Lau (aka Susie Bubble) started her online diary in March 2006. Style Bubble sees Lau, a Londoner, playing dress-up with new purchases and offering her thoughts on everything from fellow bloggers to the rebirth of Miss Selfridge. Thanks to its infectious tone, Style Bubble has become one of the most widely read fashion blogs, receiving 20,000 hits a day. No surprises, then, that Lau was recently recruited to the online arm of Dazed & Confused magazine. Fans needn’t worry, however – the blog is still going strong despite the day job.

Like many of her fellow style-bloggers, Tavi Gevinson posts pictures of herself in cool charity-shop finds and loves dissecting catwalk trends. Unlike most of them, however, Tavi is 13. A self-confessed ‘tiny dork’ who loves the high-fashion labels Luella, Charles Anastase and Comme des Garçons, the Chicago schoolgirl has already been profiled by the New York Times and launched her own T-shirt line. Her biggest problem right now? Finding designer togs that fit.

When Katie Grand left Pop magazine to start up a new venture with the publishing house Condé Nast, the fashion world was buzzing with excitement. The resulting magazine, Love, has certainly lived up to expectations and its blog is a neat window on to life on the precipice of cool. Alongside catwalk news and Twitter updates from Pixie Geldof, the site also features pictures of the Love staffers with pals including Justin Timberlake, Beth Ditto, and their pet rabbit, Clara.

There are very few blogs that could persuade Donatella Versace to be guest editor for the day or ask Frida Giannini, the Gucci designer, to send in her holiday snaps. Such is the persuasive power of the Moment, the blog by the New York Times T magazine. Covering fashion, beauty, design and travel, the blog’s recent highlights have included an exclusive preview of Madonna’s Givenchy tour costumes, a celebration of vintage Pucci and the return of recycled jewellery.

Since launching in 2005, Scott Schuman’s blog has become a phenomenon. The formula itself is straightforward: the diminutive New Yorker travels the globe shooting simple portraits of well-dressed individuals including fashion insiders such as Carine Roitfeld, the editor of French Vogue, as well as stylish passers-by on the street. It’s Schuman’s eye for detail that sets his images apart. He has recently made the transition from ‘street photography’ to advertising campaigns for DKNY Jeans, and has even modelled for Gap.

Almost like a 2009 version of Through the Keyhole, the Selby features pictures, videos and paintings of hip homes around the world – from Manhattan apartments to cute basement flats in east London, all belonging to the likes of Peaches Geldof, Julia Restoin-Roitfeld and the model Erin Wasson. The blog started out as a side project for Todd Selby, a photographer, who began his career shooting fashion and portraits, but has since grown into something a whole lot bigger. ‘I wanted to look at people’s houses and surroundings and try to tell more of a story,’ he explains.

Created by the novelist and Stella contributor Linda Grant, the Thoughtful Dresser has witty musings on all things clothes related. Whether she’s answering tricky questions such as ‘How many shoes does a girl need?’ (Crocs don’t count, obviously) or discussing female dress codes in Iran, Grant is one of the sharpest fashion writers around. She’s also launching the Great Mutton Debate on her site, a lively discussion of ‘age-appropriate’ dressing for the over-fifties.

James Andrew is the ultimate dandy. Every day the New York-based interior designer posts pictures of himself in the latest designer threads. The results often verge on the fantastical – James never travels without pocket squares – but his Gatsby-meets-Gucci style has attracted a legion of fans. ‘It’s our favourite blog of the moment and possibly of all time,’ declared Elle Decoration.

Started in January by an east London couple, Joe and Katie, this blog will warm the hearts of even the most stony fashion scenesters. Documenting what the eccentric Katie wears every day of 2009, Joe comments on each outfit, with praise ranging from ‘truly beautiful’ to ‘very pretty indeed’. When that refers to sequin tunics, curtain ties from B&Q and a host of coloured tights, you have to applaud this sartorially enlightened male. A blog to forward to partners everywhere.

Dress up babe

Giles spring/summer 2010 collection
Giles spring/summer 2010 collection
Giles spring/summer 2010 collection

25 trends at London fashion week

Tuesday at LFW: A model wears Erdem

From cardigans to to croque monsieurs – what was hot on and off the capital’s catwalks this year

 Jess Cartner-Morley

 1 Colours that almost clash now look more stylish and well-put-together than colours that “go”. Fact. See: emerald with salmon at Nicole Farhi, and chartreuse with lilac at Betty Jackson.

2 The Angular Hourglass is the new silhouette. Sharp shoulders, small waist and the new diamond-shaped skirt. As seen at Peter Pilotto and Antonio Berardi.

3 Rolling the hems of your trousers up just-so is essential to show off your new shoes, but is not as easy as it looks. Swot up by poring over thesartorialist.blogspot.com

4 The Mulberry Bayswater handbag is a new classic. Next season, you can go girly with the pale pink bow-trimmed version or channel Alexa Chung tomboy chic with the satchel-strapped one.

5 When you see the new Luella collection, you are going to want to wear sky blue and lemon yellow. Really.

6 Apparently, we are going to be wearing ankle boots all next summer.

7 Croque monsieurs are fashion‘s new favourite snack. You should have seen the queue for them at the Topshop venue. Sashimi is so last season

8 The most expensive item in the average British person’s wardrobe cost £293, according to new research by insurer Hiscox.

9 Shagpile carpet is set to make a comeback, if the swooning over Jaeger’s thick cream catwalk is anything to go by.

Twenty8Twelve denim outfit Will Sienna Miller be wearing double denim, as in this Twenty8Twelve outfit, next season? Photograph: Danny Martindale/WireImage.com 10 Big shoulders are here to stay.

11 Double denim could be set for a shock comeback. Will Sienna Miller be wearing this outfit from her Twenty8Twelve collection next summer?

12 Cleavage is totally over. Even Kelly Brook wore a high-necked, smock-style dress to Philip Green’s party.

13 Grace Kelly will be the style reference to drop next summer.

14 Very posh cardigans are the new evening coats. Next season we want Pringle’s luxe, louche cable knit or Christopher Kane’s slashed navy cardi. Until then we’re wearing our Kate Moss Topshop silver sequined number to death.

15 The first sightings of the Powder and Flash power-mesh-backed sexy silk frocks by Preen on the party circuit will be next season’s Galaxy moment, mark our words. Order one now, while you still can.

16 Betty Jackson rocks. Her pink-and-coffee floral dress is top of our summer shopping list.

17 Simon Cowell is the celebrity’s celebrity. The starry crowd at Sir Philip Green’s dinner at The Ivy on Sunday – Kate, Naomi, Lily Donaldson, Kelly Brook and co – went decidedly giddy in the presence of the Mayor of Saturday Nights.

18 It is no longer fashionable to be late. When the Peter Pilotto show still hadn’t started after 25 minutes of waiting, Anna Wintour took off her sunglasses, made eye- contact with the PR and tapped her watch. The show started within seconds.

19 Erdem Moralioglu, alumni of the DVF studio now designing his own label in London, could be Britain’s Jason Wu – the go-to designer for First Ladies and shadow first ladies. Sarah Brown wore an Erdem abstract-floral frock for her Downing Street bash; four days later Sam Cameron turned up in the front row at the Erdem show.

Christopher Kane dress The dress to wear this autumn is this one by Christopher Kane, £1,485 from net-a-porter.com. 20 Sequins are now perfectly acceptable daywear. Alexandra Shulman, editor of British Vogue, wore sequined cardigans for two days of shows.

21 The dress to wear this autumn, before next season’s trends hit the shops, is this one by Christopher Kane, £1,485 from net-a-porter.com. Tout le monde is wearing it at the shows this week.  

22 Somerset House is a beautiful venue, but cobblestones and spike heeled sandals is a dangerous combination.

23 “Research shows that investing in the fashion business pays dividends for London at a ratio of 30:1.” We don’t know where Boris Johnson got this statistic, but we like it.

24 Next summer, polka dots will be the new Breton stripe. Itsy-bitsy on bikinis at Caroline Charles, blown up to giant scale at Luella.

25 It is time to put your GHD straighteners away and master the arts of backcombing and crimping. Finger-in-the-plug-socket hair is the way to go next season.

New York: spring/summer 2010 collection

New York Fashion Week: Michael Kors

Hilary Alexander reviews the Michael Kors spring/summer 2010 collection from New York Fashion Week.

 New York Fashion Week: Michael Kors

Michael Kors stepped into unknown territory for his spring/summer 2010 collection – the world of pastels. “I’ve never done pastels before; I always felt they were a bit too saccharine. But they seem right for spring. That’s what it’s all about.”

Kors needn’t have worried. His soft palette of blush-pink, delphinium blue, lilac and pistachio, with watercolour-prints in the same shades looked fresh and sophisticated, a marked change from the clear, bright primaries which usually dominate.

His key shape was inspired by architecture, sharp lines and angles, best expressed in the simple shift, traversed with zips and clear plastic ‘windows’ which revealed glimpses of midriff and thigh, or featuring geometric cutouts on shoulders or backs.

He also showed a young, more girlish look with loose, semi-see-through sweaters, in ‘sea foam’ cashmere, worn with crushed, techno-taffeta, skirts like candyfloss.

Draped ‘Grecian’ dresses featured cowl-backs or a single metal strap. Other one-shoulder dresses, in the watercolour print, featured layered, petal-like panels, while cocktail dresses came in black and white sequins, embroidered in a random polka dot pattern. Other sequinned shifts came with a nude tulle hemline revealing the knee.

Kors, who opened his first London flagship earlier this year, now plans a second accessories store in the West End.

The film actor, Michael Douglas, was among the front row celebrities.

“Michael is a friend and I like to go to at least one show a season, to keep in touch and catch a bit of theatre,” he said.

(7) Wedding dresses: Brides on the beach

Tying the knot in an exotic location will allow you to dazzle in one of the stunning, new, softer-look wedding dresses.
By Hilary Alexander, Fashion Director

Sparkling waters, golden sands, brilliant (and guaranteed) sunshine – and an absolute minimum of guests! It is hard to imagine a more romantic setting, or one further removed from the hubble-bubble of close to 500 guests at Hampton Court swigging at a dwindling supply of champagne.

The beach or hot destination wedding continues to be a celebrity choice, as well as a chiconomic option when money is tight.

The Brazilian supermodel, Gisele Bundchen, and her footballer beau, Tom Hardy, chose the Virgin Islands for their wedding in April. The same month, Denise Van Outen and Lee Mears were married in The Seychelles. Heidi Klum and Seal renewed their vows in Malibu in May, four years after their original wedding in the seaside paradise of Mexico’s Puerto Vallarta, while Gary Lineker and Danielle Bux stole away to Portofino on the Italian Riviera for their secret September wedding.

According to a survey carried out recently by You & Your Wedding magazine, 15% of weddings these days happen abroad, with the Caribbean the favourite setting, ahead of Italy in second place.

“Here in Britain we have a sense of romance about sunshine, we’re in love with the sun and beach weddings are absolutely fantastic,” says Colette Harris, editor of You & Your Wedding. “You can have a small number of friends and close family, not a huge guest list; your dress can be less traditional; and the honeymoon is included”.

The 21st century beach wedding, however, is a far cry from the assembly-line approach of the 1990’s.

Wedding dresses: Brides on the beach

“Girls now realise that it’s possible to create a stunning bespoke wedding, instead of being one of twenty couples getting married on a beach, one after the other with the same flowers, witnesses and ceremony like the all-inclusive packages of ten years ago,” says Bryony Toogood, fashion editor of Condé Nast Brides UK. “It’s now much easier to organise a beautiful, tailor-made wedding on a beach, on a cliff, by a lake, in a forest, in a villa – pretty much anywhere you wish in the world.”

Wedding dresses, too, have changed and now take more inspiration from ready-to-wear catwalk trends. Softer looks with Grecian draping and ‘boudoir’ fabrics such as chiffon are key for 2010 and are also more suited to hot destination weddings, quite apart from being easier to pack than a huge meringue. Leading high street brands, including Monsoon and Phase Eight, for example, have added bridal collections at extremely accessible prices, leaving more money available for flights to your sun-drenched location.

BEACH BRIDE RULE-BOOK

DO

* Make sure you know the legal requirements before you book your wedding

* Try and wear natural fabrics

* Take the advice of a local florist who knows which flowers last best in the heat

* Use a sun-cream and SPF make-up/skincare so you look sun-kissed rather than scorched in your wedding photos

* Choose an alcohol-free fragrance to avoid a sunlight reaction

* Use a deodorant you know and trust

* Have shine blotters handy

* Think about a pretty parasol

DON’T

* Even attempt six-inch stilettoes

 

* Try and recreate the big church wedding on the sands, work with what the resort, beach or island has to offer

* Go barefoot without a perfect pedicure

Designer Wedding Show

• Prospective brides will find inspiration for the perfect wedding, and pretty much everything they need except the groom, at the forthcoming Designer Wedding Show , 9th-11th October, Battersea Park, London. Four fashion shows a day will feature the latest collections of all the top bridal labels including Valentino, Elie Saab, Pronovias, the Paris-based Delphine Manivet, who opens her London branch in November, Bruce Oldfield, Suzanne Neville, and Temperley London, who are also offering Telegraph readers the chance to win a wedding dress worth up to £5,000. We also have 100 free tickets for the Designer Wedding Show to give away. Follow the link on our fashion home page for competition details

(6) Fall Fashion: 100 Fashion Finds Under $100

Leah Bourne   Fashion lovers don’t need to break their budgets to replenish their wardrobes with the trendiest new looks this fall.
That’s because a long list of prominent designers, from Jimmy Choo’s Tamara Mellon to Anna Sui, are launching price-conscious secondary lines, partnering with mass retailers or just lowering their prices to appeal to consumers.

Many designers understand that the magic number for shoppers these days hovers around the $100 mark. If that’s within your budget, you can now scoop up some of fall’s hottest items, a welcome change from the last few years when retailers were predominantly pushing luxury goods.

Look first for menswear-inspired looks, such as tailored blazers, Oxford shoes and oversized button-downs–all fashions that can work at the office. The 1980s is another trend that’s very popular now–bold shoulders, neon colors and anything with a vintage biker feel is a must-have this season. In addition, ladylike pieces inspired by Dior’s “New Look” couldn’t be more in fashion, so keep an eye out for pearls, floral-print sheaths and prim cardigans.

Rachel Roy, whose eponymous line has been worn by the likes of Michelle Obama and Kate Hudson, has partnered with Macy’s to launch the price-friendly Rachel Rachel Roy. The line hit shelves in August, a move that was motivated by the economic downturn.

“I believe both designers and consumers have had to prioritize practicality over aspiration in this economy,” says Roy. Instead of investing in her asymmetrical wool dress from her fall ready-to-wear collection for $1,195, women can opt to buy a black sheath dress from Roy’s less expensive line for a fraction of the cost: $109. Roy believes her line will attract customers who are “worldly, educated and modern.”

Roy isn’t alone in trying her hand at affordable fashion. Jil Sander, master of the woman’s power suit, left her namesake label in 2004 and is now launching a collection with Uniqlo called +J in October. Nothing in the collection will exceed $150. The collection includes a crisp white button-down shirt, a tailored black overcoat and cropped gray trousers, all perfect for getting this season’s minimalist androgynous look.

On the accessories front, Jimmy Choo is partnering with H&M, the Swedish-based bargain retail chain, to launch a collection of shoes, handbags and clothes. Expect shopper lines around the block when the collection hits stores in mid-November–and be sure to scoop up the zebra print sandals. After all, animal prints couldn’t be more in style this fall.

Target began collaborating with designers such as Isaac Mizrahi as early as 2002, and has since worked with notables including Alexander McQueen and the Proenza Schouler duo. The retailer is now partnering with Anna Sui on a collection inspired by the characters on Gossip Girl. It will be available in mid-September. Says Sui, “I went through [my] archives and picked the best silhouettes and prints that were representative of each character to draw from the collection.” All of this season’s big fashion trends are covered: There’s a faux leather motorcycle jacket, a menswear vest and a trompe-l’oeil lace printed white and brown mini dress.

Designers aren’t just thinking about fast fashion, however. Some are trying to lure investment shoppers. Consuelo Castiglioni, who designs for the pricey fashion label Marni, says, “I think people are being much more thoughtful about their purchases, looking for things that will last and only get better with time and care.” With that in mind, Castiglioni started designing a capsule collection this spring that, while not for budget shoppers, is less expensive than Marni’s runway collection.

In the fall edition of the collection, there are cropped black trousers for $560, a raspberry silk sheath dress with a raw-edged bow that’s priced at $810 and a long-sleeve fern green wool tartan coat for $1,315. While not cheap, these are refined investment basics that can be worn for many years.

Indeed, the recession may turn out to be a boon for fashion enthusiasts who now have more access than ever to upscale designers. Kate and Laura Mulleavy’s Rodarte, which won the CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year award this year, is designing a collection for Target. Christopher Kane, the young British designer who is a favorite of Donatella Versace, has partnered with Topshop, and Rag & Bone and Temperley both recently announced that they have diffusion lines in the works.

“People don’t want to wear head-to-toe high-end designer [outfits] like they used to,” says designer Anna Sui, “Consumers now just expect high-end design at affordable prices.”

Affordable Fashion

ForbesWoman editors have selected the 100 best fashion finds–from skirts to dresses, shoes, jewelry and even hats–for under $100. Click on the trends below to see our top wallet-friendly picks for fall.

The Classics

Menswear-Inspired

Animal Prints

Metallics

Eco-Friendly Fashion

Fall Florals

Ultra-Femme

Fall Brights

Military

Pleats & Ruffles

http://www.forbes.com/2009/09/09/fashion-week-trends-forbes-woman-style-fall-clothing_print.html

(5) High Fashion Faces a Redefining Moment

High Fashion Faces a Redefining Moment

The fabric in the hands of Thakoon Panichgul, one of Michelle Obama’s favorite designers, is exquisite. An Italian jacquard, woven from yarns of eight different colors, it costs $100 a yard. A dress that Mr. Panichgul plans to make from the cloth for his runway show next week will cost $2,000.

He lets it fall away. It troubles Mr. Panichgul that as much as people love beautiful clothes, they do not understand why they cost so much. “It’s becoming a losing battle,” he said.

Designer fashion — the creative wellspring of the American apparel industry, the engine of style magazines, the stuff of plain old dreams — is experiencing a serious case of the blues. As another show season rolls out across the city, against the chilliest retail climate in years, many believe this is not merely a difficult moment for high-end fashion but a defining one as well.

Here is the reality: More and more people shop at H & M and other purveyors of cheap chic. Factories offering fine craftsmanship in Italy and New York are closing as business moves to China. Consumers do not see longevity in the clothes they buy. “I think the true designer business is in trouble, no question about it,” said a senior buying executive at Macy’s, declining to speak on the record because of the company’s policies.

With shoppers afraid to spend, department stores cut orders for fall goods by 30 percent. For next spring — the collections being shown during New York Fashion Week through Sept. 17 — little improvement is seen.

“In my 40 years in fashion, I’ve never seen women scared to shopat all price levels,” said Vera Wang, who sells $1,000 dresses at stores like Bergdorf Goodman and also has a low-priced line at Kohl’s.

Retailers have pressured designers like Ms. Wang to lower their prices. Anyone walking through an empty store in recent months could see why this was necessary. On Tuesday, Neiman Marcus reported a $668 million loss for the year. The luxury chain said the latest quarterly sales at stores open at least a year fell 23 percent from the period a year ago. Saks posted a 16 percent drop. On Thursday, the industry tried to excite people with after-hours shopping at stores around the city, called Fashion’s Night Out.

Makers of high-end fashion wonder how far they can drop prices without diminishing their prestige, or cutting corners that might compromise their creativity.

Ms. Wang said she cut prices for her resort collection this year by 40 percent, but was told by some stores that those $600 to $800 dresses were maybe too low for a designer brand.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Ms. Wang said, referring to the future of prestigious labels. “It’s going to be a world of crepe de Chine.”

Although designer fashion accounts for only a small portion of the $191 billion apparel industry in the United States, and many consumers would not mourn the disappearance of $2,000 dresses from the racks, the creativity of runway collections inspires looks in the mass market and sets trends that entice shoppers back into stores season after season, fueling a vast segment of the economy.

In the 40 years since modern ready-to-wear came into existence in Europe and America, and made household names of Ralph, Calvin and Donna, designers have enjoyed enormous respect and prosperity. However, in the past few years, they have lost some face with consumers. Their clothes became exotically pricey as they courted celebrities and did quick-and-dirty deals with makers of fast fashion.

This week the situation reached a nadir of sorts when the Paris house Emanuel Ungaro — once the pride and joy of the Upper East Side — announced that it had hired Lindsay Lohan as its artistic adviser.

Another impact of recession-driven designing is a retreat to more predictable styles, a repetition of the safe looks that sold well in previous seasons. The designer Elie Tahari, whose labels generate about $500 million in sales, is focusing on dresses, animal prints and leggings and slim pants worn with tunics.

“Fashion has to be new and wearable and there has to be a need to it,” he said. Mr. Tahari has cut prices by 30 percent and closed a handbag factory he had in Italy to move that production to China.

Even Oscar de la Renta, the very emblem of high-end New York design, known for $4,000 and $5,000 dresses and suits, plans to offer a $1,500 dress in his spring line to meet retailers’ demands.

And although he recently bought a local garment factory that had planned to close, to help maintain his label’s craft standards, he has also sought out less expensive suppliers in Asia and Eastern Europe.

In his Seventh Avenue studio, Mr. de la Renta pointed to a sleeveless black dress with two knitted, frilly panels. The panels, done in Romania and combined with an Italian wool, will help keep the price of the dress down to $2,500. And Mr. de la Renta likes a silk faille that he gets from a mill in South Korea. Aside from the price — it costs a third of what Italian faille does — he likes the look.

“Listen, Prada has been using it for years,” he said.

European houses, with their savoir-faire and deep pockets — thanks to leather goods and perfume sales — may hold a creative edge over American counterparts that will matter in the marketplace. Stores insist that women, while choosier now and prone to mixing styles, can’t part with quality altogether.

“There are still customers who want that workmanship,” Ann Stordahl, the general merchandise manager at Neiman’s, said. “There are just fewer of them than there were.”

But there’s a paradox in all this, a slight slub in the fabric. Ultimately, what distinguishes high-end fashion is an appreciation for the small differences: in the fit, the fabric. This is a designer’s creative toolbox. Remove a tool, and he has less with which to do his job.

Joseph Altuzarra, a young designer in New York, specializes in ruched georgette dresses, priced around $2,000, which are made in France. Recently, he asked his factory there if it might simplify the ruching process to lower costs. The factory refused.

“They said they would be ashamed to produce a garment that way,” Mr. Altuzarra recalled.

Then he took a sample to a New York City factory to see if it might produce garments for him. “They looked at the sample and passed it around the factory and 15 minutes later said, ‘We can’t do it,’ ” Mr. Altuzarra said. “It was technically impossible for them to do it.”

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