Spring 2012 fashion trends

1920s fashion: flapper dresses

The most recent first full blown revival of 1920s fashion saw flapper dresses become one of the defining women’s clothing trends of 2008. The revival of flapper fashion began a year earlier, however, when then-trend setter Kate Moss was spotted at the Glastonbury music festival wearing a bolero that had all the hallmarks of the flapper girl. Suddenly, we all wanted a piece of Roaring 20s cool and, while the fashion industry had long been experimenting with fashion revivals, the fast fashion industry was quick to cater. As were the luxury fashion houses. So everywhere you looked flapper dresses and flapper-influenced pieces could be seen.

Each of them offered up the loose-fitting dresses with embellishments such fringing and beading that the 1920′s fashion is romanticised for. But it couldn’t last as a trend. Too many fast fashion retailers and fashion houses were producing flapper dresses, and it wasn’t always easy to tell them apart. So it was that a fashion that had originally lasted for most of the 1920s lasted little more than a year in the 2000s. Which is why the piece we reference above about a 20s fashion revival highlights the fact that another 1920s fashion comeback might not see a full blown return of the flapper dress but a return of its elements and details instead.

The Art Deco movement

The fashion clan knew exactly what they wanted after the end of World War I in the 1920s – being technologically advanced and giving birth to a ‘new woman’ in America. The rise of hedonism during the flapper period and living in the machine age was the way to live for the entirety of the decade.

But as the bobbed haircut, long-waisted dresses, V-necklines and ostrich features gained social acceptance, the erotic idea of androgyny also made ample amount of noise. By the end of the twenties, America had undergone dramatic social changes, resulting in another leap at the start of the 1930s.

Take it this way; what we call modern now, was considered even more ‘modernist,’ back in 1930s. Or consider Art Deco as a period when European designs and ideologies exploded in America. Everything became contemporary and arty, but devoid of frills and intricate detailing from the previous decade. The fashion scene was less democratic and visually more independent.

Art Deco in the 20s/30s

The craze of Paris and its romanticism lured with it the major Deco-themed design movement. Everything in Paris, from furniture, architecture, jewellery, interiors, cutlery and even paintings, were inspired by the eclecticism of the Art Deco period.

The silhouette remained similar to the one from the Gatsby period, however the feathered opulence was replaced with geometric lines and shapes. Bright colours aimed to wake everyone from the economy’s misery. Art Deco’s period still flirted with the 20s, yet maintained its own identity.

This, of course, changed as the trends changed over time and the once-modern Deco-ism resorted to history.

Art Deco fashion in 2012

Back in 2008, when the trend made a comeback, we highlighted elements that we thought would weigh heavy on the fashion memo. Marc Jacobs brought 1940s power dressing into play with bright block prints, also the oriental influences with gold hues oozed out sophistication.

The rebirth of Art Deco in 2012 is even more different.

The Gucci spring 2012 show saw the silhouette as a fusion of 1920s-flapper and 1940s-strictness but with prints drawn from the Deco-period. Frida Giannini experimented with three decades and yet presented a modern, abstract and visually appealing collection. The geometric lines on tuxedos clashed with the shimmery decadence of straight-cut dresses. The luxurious colours and pieces proved that for a trend to revisit the fashion scene, it has to be more powerful than just a glittery flash-forward.

Other designers like Etro played with bold Deco-inspired prints, while the likes of Carolina Herrera married geometric shapes with both masculine tailoring and floor-length gowns.

Art Deco fashion: how to wear it now

For the coming spring/summer season, Art Deco can act as inspiration for your wardrobe in numerous ways, depending on how you want to translate the trend for yourself.

    If you want to bring some Gatsby into Deco-ism, then look at Gucci for inspiration. Wear feathers, fringing, beads and shimmer on a sleek silhouette.
    Keep the geometry neat. Even though the trend screams for you to take risks with lines and shapes, going minimalist, yet with an impact, is the secret code.
    An athletic twist would be to mix-and-match bold colours in the same outfit, but with a sixties twist. Try architectural midi-length skirt with a loose, tucked-in V-neck top.
    If you want to show a hint of skin, opt for something with a draping backless cut, or fringing that shimmers aside as you move. Bias-cut gowns in silk or satin offer a Deco-era elegance.
    If you’re keeping the outfit clean, play with Deco-inspired accessories, such as a tasseled clutches in bold colours or chunky jewellery. But remember, this season is more about exhibiting the Art Deco period via clothes than jewellery. Go bold with solid metal pieces.
    Wear wide-legged pants with a short tuxedo jacket but clash with gold or silver belt or clutch. Pick pieces that remind you of Cleopatra, a Parisian princess or a geometry lesson.
    With the colour palette, there are no strict rules to abide by. But from what’s seen on the spring 2012 runway, emerald green, gold, zebra stripes, cobalt blue and mustard will keep you in the safe zone.

Tribal / Ethnic Fashion: How to wear it right now.
A lot has changed since fashion elements inspired by tribal and ethnic cultures were in fashion. So here's Fashionising.com's guide to wearing the look for spring / summer 2012.

You’re going to see a lot of ethnically inspired fashion on both men and women in spring / summer 2012, but you’ll be forgiven if you aren’t able to immediately determine which ethnicity it is that you’re paying witness to. There are a lot of factors that cause that to be the case but none is so potent as this: this is not a trend that sets out to romanticise whole looks – that was how we wore it back in 2009. For spring 2012 it’s a trend that instead borrows patterns and ideas from cultures far-and-wide and subtly works them through very Western garments.

Sports fashion trend: sporty clothing.
Sportswear as a fashion trend has been evolving for the past few years. Now, with the 2012 Olympics on the horizon, the stars are in alignment for yet another burst of sporty chic inspiration. Sleeker, more functional, and with a minimalist leaning, sportswear in 2012 offers up new opportunities for wardrobe inspiration - for both men and women. Read on for the full trend report.

The obvious question then: what’s new about the trend of sporty fashion for spring 2012?

While utility elements haven’t been done away with all together, they’re far less prominent. Sporty fashion in 2012 is less about taking a specific sports uniform and adapting it as streetwear and more about creating sleek, almost minimalist pieces that have an element of the functional. If last season’s sporty girl was all about effortless slouchy sweatshirts and tomboy attitude, then 2012′s is all about Olympic athleticism as an undercurrent to poised femininity.

As such, fashionable sportswear in spring 2012 is all about:

    Looks that are less masculine, and more feminine or androgynous
    Pieces that are form-fitting and sleek, or structured, as opposed to ultra-slouchy
    Sports elements mixed with sophisticated tailoring, and
    Luxurious fabrication in sporty cuts. Look out for leather, silk, sheer fabrics, jersey.

Sporty fashion for spring: elements to look for

Since sportswear fashion in 2012 is all about subtlety, it’s the finer details that count the most. You don’t need to look like you’ve just stepped off a playing field or out of a gym. Instead your best bet is to hunt down versatile pieces that inject a sporty sensibility without being limited to what you can wear them with. Look for:
  • Sports bras and tank tops that are minimal and sleek, but with twists like asymmetrical straps. These types of pieces are perfect for layering both day and night time.
  • Details like thick elastic strapping, exposed zippers, and utility buckles. Keep them toned down with the outfit, or bold and bright for contrast.

  • Mesh or perforated leather, especially when applied unconventionally to a classic item or cut giving it a sporty update.
  • Hoods, racer backs as cutaway details on jackets or dresses, outside utility pockets. Again contrasting the details with luxe fabrics and minimal lines gives them a fresh look for 2012.

Sporty clothing for men

While a number of menswear collections for spring 2012 directly quoted Olympic sports as inspiration – notably Nicole Farhi and Moncler Gamme Bleu both referenced sports like fencing and rowing – many also leaned gently to the functional. As with women’s a mix of effortless sporty cuts and tailored pieces was key across menswear, a mix that should be looked to in a man’s wardrobe for the season. For men, the most obvious and most popular way of incorporating a sporty feel into spring is by way of outerwear: hooded coats in parachute silks or jersey, varsity jackets, and parkas are all strong options.

Add caption
Nicole Farhi S/S ’12, Moncler Gamme Bleu S/S ’12

Sleek, body-conscious cuts aren’t reserved for womenswear, either: a sporty mens jacket or pant cut can take its cues from motorcycle leathers, scuba-gear or other more streamlined sports cuts. At the opposite end of the spectrum loose slouchy pieces or relaxed tailoring offers up a casual sporty aesthetic that can be smartened up by way of luxe fabrics or the right accessories.

Urban mermaid: style from the sea.
Walt Disney’s fairytales made mermaids, oysters, pearls and glitter seem whimsical; but the fashion crowd have claimed the look and given it an urban edge in 2012. From Chanel's pearl-encrusted looks to Givenchy's urban sirens, the mermaid as fashion icon gets fresher, cleaner, and a little sexier for spring.

Past incarnations of mermaid fashion

From glitzy fishtail dresses to fishscale appliques, 2012 isn’t the first time mermaids and sirens of the sea have been used as fashion inspiration. The trend surfaced back in 2008 with a much more literal look to what it is now; with classical inspirations from art and literature given a glamorous turn. Now, it’s haloed in a softer and more subtle type of magic.

Urban mermaid: the trend in 2012

Karl Lagerfeld created some serious buzz when the entire fashion industry was given a taste of underwater luxury in Chanel’s spring 2012 runway show. The literal transformation of a bubble-wrapped underwater kingdom gave an insight into the expectations from this trend. However, like always, Lagerfeld pulled out the ‘surprise’ card, as the collection opened up a thesaurus of unconventional lady-like looks. The lack of fishtail gowns in eye-piercing colours put a refreshing edge to the minimalist ocean-themed collection. Pearls, lace and ruffles were used to update the trademark tweed suit, whilst the colour palette tilted towards keeping it fresh underwater.

Mermaid inspired fashion at Givenchy SS12

Just as Lagerfeld directed a dreamy fairytale under the sea, Riccardo Tisci produced a fervent and poised sex-show amongst the bubbles. Givenchy’s spring 2012 collection was sharp, strong and full of lean silhouettes that connected with the aesthetic of a modern mermaid, vindicated with long free-flowing hair and understated metallic eye make-up. Tisci took inspiration from surfers, sharks and other sea creatures to create tailored suits, second skin pants and skirts that ended well above the knee.

The one thing that connects the two collections is their ability to break down the conventional meaning of the mermaid or ocean trend and give it a modern twist that’ll also work brilliantly well with the other spring 2012 trends.

The palettes for this trend are free from any patterns or articulate fabrication; they’re modestly clean with aplenty of creams, powdery blues and shimmery metallic shades.

But it isn’t just the clothes and the outfits that enclose the trend; the hair and beauty department have also proved to be considerate stakeholders in the popularity and success of the mermaid or ocean trend.

Mermaid hair and beauty inspiration

The adaptation of this girly trend into the hair and beauty department has been an interesting one. We say ‘interesting’ because, here at Fashionising.com, we started reporting on the hair and beauty looks from spring 2012 shows just as they came off the runway.

  •  Fashionising.com did an in-house how-to beauty shoot for Givenchy’s gold sequin dotted eyes. This was a direct inspiration from the spring runway show, and an easy-to-achieve look.
  • Taking the hairspiration to a literal level, the wet hair look also tallies with this underwater urban mermaid image.
  • Glistening hair with dewy ringlets or a slicked back look is turning out to be a huge trend for the coming spring season. Slick it back in a ponytail, leave it semi-dry or brave the dripping wet style. A simple fishtail braid would also endorse the sea trend. And as seen on the Chanel catwalk, an embellished pearly updo is another way to add an oceanic twist to your outfit.

  •  Beauty-wise, the obvious options for a mermaid look would be to swear by metallic eyes and dewy skin. The challenge is to create a pearly sheen, while also keeping it fresh and glowy sans any visible shine. This look was flawlessly presented on the Chanel runway, as the girls strutted out in their au natural avatars.

Mermaid inspired fashion: how to wear it

  • With outfits – go for feminine silhouettes without the obvious red carpet-type mermaid gowns. Opt for dresses and jackets that cinch-in and accentuate the waist.
  • To give your outfit an approval from the sea world, pick fabrics with gleam and shine as opposed to something opaque and sturdy. Sequins or paillettes give off a fish scale effect, but again work best in burnished gold, muted silver or semi-sheer plastics.
  •  Pair accessories that adhere to the underwater trend, sequinned clutches or holdalls, or even a pearl-studded envelope clutch.
  • When choosing colours, stay clear from obvious choices like bright blues and algae green. This spring is all about whites, shimmery silver, and metallic grey with small glimpses from deep ocean blue.
  • Be wise when choosing shimmery eye shadows, as you don’t want to look like a make-up virgin. The trick is to line your upper eyelid – as close to the eyelash line as possible – with a shimmering eye pencil or glittery cream eye shadow. Don’t dab the said eye shadow all-over you eyelid.
  • As previously mentioned, try the wetlook hair in a roughly tied chignon or ponytail to bring the watery effect.
  • Free-flowing long hair is sure to bring out your inner sea-goddess, and for that to get a beauty approval, the flowing, side-pinned waves need to be a major part of your hair regime.
  • A fast and easy ocean-approved look is to spritz sea salt spray in your hair, give it a rough blow dry and run your fingers through your strands. You are ready with your metropolitan mermaid look.

Apron dresses: out of the kitchen.
Does the success of Master Chef have more to answer to than a generation of wannabe gastronomes? Aprons, those little pieces of fabric that have such connotations of wholesome vintage housewifery through to kitchen complexity, are quietly cooking up a storm in 2012. Read on for the full trend report.

About the trend

Aprons have, throughout history, served two main functions: being protective, and being decorative. Of the latter it was between the 16th and 18th centuries that aprons of fine fabrics were worn over skirts as a decorative feature, often embroidered and tied at the waist. Bibbed aprons were (and still are) most often worn to protect whatever’s underneath them.

In 2012 the apron again has something of a revival, popping up across runways in various forms. There are two main aesthetics of the apron in 2012: crisp and elegant, and effortlessly simple.

No example of the first style shines brighter than Chado Ralph Rucci’s immaculate white apron pictured at the top of this post. With a curved hem and neatly stitched pockets, and set against a shimmering white plunge-neck shirt and skinny pants, it has an evening formality that could serve you an a la carte dinner. Fendi’s spring 2012 apron dresses are bibbed, frilled, and unwaveringly feminine, from pastel blue cotton to sheer black organza.

When they’re not keeping a strict structure and elegant formality, apron dresses are kicking back with an almost bohemian freedom. For this look we get dresses and tops that have apron backs with tie-up strings, softly unstructured pinafores, and wrap-around apron skirts. Jeremy Laing’s collection of slouching, draping, apron-style pieces epitomise a modern approach to apron cuts in 2012.

Apron dresses and skirts: how to wear them

Less thematic and more based on form and cut, how you wear an apron-inspired piece obviously depends on the piece’s style. That said, there are plenty of other trends that will compliment this one in 2012:

  • Use an apron skirt or apron dress as the foundation of a ’50s or ’60s vintage-inspired look.
  • While an apron dress with a cinched in waist lends itself to a ladylike mid 20th century feel, an unstructured piece loosely tied can float with a jazz age 1920s revival.
  • Go for sheer fabric if you want to contrast the sweetness of an apron style with a sexier edge.

Bikini 2012 / swimwear 2012 trends.


Swimwear trends don’t move in quite the same cycles as other fashion trends. That’s because it’s hard to reinvent the bikini or the monokini: in the need to balance functionality and sex appeal, designers are limited to what they can actually do. Despite this, one piece and bikini trends are certainly still influenced by other fashion trends. For example, bikinis in 2009 and 2010 were heavily inspired by some of the key fashion trends for those years: cutaway clothing, one-shouldered pieces, fetish fashion, high-end sportswear and rock-chic garments. These are largely styles of the past, however.

So what swimsuit trends can we expect for 2011 and into 2012? You’d be right if you guessed swimsuit styles influenced by other key fashion trends for the year. So when it comes to choosing a bikini for 2011 and 2012, these are the styles should you be looking out for.
Vintage-inspired swimwear

There’s a scene in 1956′s High Society where Grace Kelly kneels poolside and pushes a model boat, the True Love, across the still water. She’s wearing a white halterneck swimsuit that ends in a small, ruffled skirt; her chin-length hair is neatly curled, her feet are bare. Never has a swimsuit looked so elegant.

Of course it’s the bombshells, the pin-ups, of the same era we’re more inclined to think of when it comes to 1950s swimsuits in particular – the Marilyn Monroes and the Jayne Mansfields. They’re playful, curvaceous, steeped in sex appeal. And so the reason we refer to the former is to balance out the latter: vintage-style swimwear has a huge place in 2011 and onwards, but it doesn’t have to be all strawberry cheesecake cliches. And the right piece can be whatever you want it to be, as bombshell as Monroe or as sophisticated as Kelly.

Nor does a vintage bikini or swimsuit have to be like a pin-up girl costume. In 2011 many designers are infusing vintage-inspired details into modern pieces – a high-waist here, a vintage print there – and the results can be perfect for the zeitgeist.

Some features to look out for:

  • one-pieces with cinched-in waists, sweetheart necklines and halters
  • high-waist bottoms
  • playful prints – gingham checks, hawaiian prints, nautical themes
  • shirred sides that accentuate the waist and hips
  • fuller-cupped tops
  • boy-legged bottoms

Ruffled bikini / ruffled swimsuit

Perhaps it’s the inspiration of vintage swimwear on 2011 and 2012, or it’s just the need for women to find a distinct, feminine way for their swimsuits standout by the pool and at the beach, either way: ruffled bikinis and ruffled swimsuits are one of the swimwear trends for the coming season.

And the fact that ruffled swimwear is an on-trend style at the moment is just about where the rules for the trend end. Unlike vintage swimwear or even one-shouldered bikinis, ruffled swimwear has no distinct style ‘rules’. Instead we’ve seen it styled and cut in a lot of different ways for spring / summer 2011 and 2012, often working alongside other one piece and bikini trends for the year.

Crochet bikinis

Influenced both by the return of 1970s fashion and the crochet clothing trend as an independent spring / summer 2011 trend, crochet bikinis, crochet swimsuits and open weave pieces that have the same effect, are not just on-trend this season, they’re the must-have fashionable swimwear style.

And for good reason too: when worn right, crochet swimwear offers up that elusive cocktail of sex appeal and reality that every woman wants from her swimsuit. After all, the perfect crochet swimwear doesn’t just show off the body and allude to more of it, its intricate wide stitch catches the eye, drawing the viewer in while distracting them from any flaws, imagined or otherwise, that you might wish to not have noticed.

The other benefit to a crochet swimwear piece is that it borders neatly on daywear. Pair a crochet monokini with denim cut-offs for a look that ticks all the festival fashion boxes; or with some crisp wide-leg pants or a midi-skirt for those resort afternoons.

One-shoulder bikinis / swimsuits

One-shoulder bikinis and swimsuits were all the rage back in 2009, but as 2010 progressed they, like the trend that inspired them, slowly lost popularity. And to be completely fair, that is a fact that hasn’t really change for 2011 and 2012. The one shoulder bikini is not the swimwear trend, but it’s still a great look, still a great point of differentiation, and there is still a particular way to wear it in 2011 / 2012.
For the next two years the one shoulder bikini is all about the ‘statement shoulder’. Back in 2009 this style of bikini had two key features:
  1. a thin, single shouldered strap
  2. the colour of the strap was the same as the bikini / swimwear
In 2011 / 2012 the opposite is now true for on-trend, one shouldered swimwear. For the next two years the fashionable one shouldered bikinis and one shouldered one pieces have:
  1. a thick, single shouldered strap
  2. a colour contrast between the strap and the rest of the bikini

Statement strapping

The term string bikini has particular connotations, connotations that carry with them a particular level of sexiness. And ‘sexy’ is an oft desired quality of any bikini. While string bikinis aren’t out of fashion in 2011 / 2012, neither are they on-trend. You can still borrow from them, however, should you wish to choose a bikini for the season that features the very on-trend ‘statement strap’.

We call this particular bikini trend strapping and not stringing because it’s been created in both string thin and wider cuts.

Digital print swimwear

Digital prints are everywhere in spring / summer 2011. Personally, I’m yet to decide how I feel about that fact: is it a natural progression of the technology fashion designers now have a their disposal, or are they just being lazy, relying on technology instead of age-old craft and techniques? Whichever it is (and it might be neither) swimwear that features a bold print is equally as popular in 2011 and 2012. And that should come as no surprise, printed swimsuits have always been popular. For this season, however, the style takes its cues from the sports-as-fashion street wear trend and sees the print applied to swimwear that is more functional then fashionable.

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