Sleeve-Separates @ New York Fashion Week…

If you invested in a leather sleeved coat this winter, you don’t have to worry about contemplating subsequent purchases in order to save up for a new styled outerwear essential for next winter because the fashion-fixation that is contrasting sleeves is set to remain on top form, at least for now, as the opposing fabric started out as being limited more or less to leather (not that there’s anything wrong with adding a little edginess & rock glamour in our prim & preppy lives!). This season it broadens it’s horizons…

Since first appearing in Ricardo Tisci’s Givenchy s/s 2009 collection in the form of crocodile leather on cotton jackets, numerous designers (Alexander Wang, Philip Lim, and Christopher Bailey for Burberry – to name a few) have been proponents of the trend – upping the ante each season and producing their own interpretations to incorporate everything from raffia, lurex, to suede. It took it’s extreme form in Dries Van Noten’s 2010 collection – having filled almost the entire show with visions of contrast sleeves in every which way and form (adorning jeweled sleeves to cargo jackets and bombers, bold yellow sleeves to leopard print blouses, and oversized mohair sleeves to cropped sweaters – I could go on!).

Given the industry’s constant (and understandable) obsession with juxtaposition, the love affair with contrast sleeves is unsurprising. They are the perfect fashion paradox: allowing a woman to be edgy but soft, dressed up & dressed down all at once. To me, contrast sleeves ooze effortless chic — an accomplishment any fashion fanatic is in a constant competition for — they are a way to add a little light playfulness & fun to the often hard & heavy hitting autumn/winter outfits, as most outerwear pieces stick to one colour and one fabric, covering up anything exciting which may be lurking beneath.

Prominently displayed on the New York catwalks, favourites included: the ever-traditional leather sleeves seen at New York staple brand DKNY (love the deep red crocodile leather!); long knit & transparent-sleeved throw-overs at Philip Lim; Altuzarra’s contrasting black-fur & Moroccan-inspired gold coin sleeved coats; bold juxtaposing fur sleeves at BCBG & Custo Barcelona; bolder fur on the awe-inspiring belted military jackets at Jason Wu, and daringly blue-furred bomber jackets at Prabal Gurung (i think it’s fair to say that fur has replaced last season’s leather, no?).

Whether soft and overflowing on dresses & tops or bright and bold for maximum impact coats & cropped jackets, this emerging obsession of contrasting sleeves has worked its way up the hierarchy of trends throughout the past seasons (one sleeve at a time, ha!) and has earned the top spot being a must-have item included on everyone’s wish-lists. These sleeves are here to stay…

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