THE ROMANCE OF NAVY AND GREY
Updated takes on two classic shades.
Black and white may be the ubiquitous colour choices for Autumn (the collections at Proenza Schouler, Dior, and Balenciaga were all virtual odes to the starkly elegant pairing), but a woman cannot live on black and white alone. Luckily, designers like Francisco Costa at Calvin Klein, Phoebe Philo at Céline, and Jil Sander opted for a softer palette, mostly in navy and grey.
I know what you’re thinking: “What could possibly be new about those neutrals?” Well, plenty. Just as black-and-white silhouettes have little to do with a classic white shirt and black pants, navy and grey have taken on brand new permutations.
Navy has always been relegated primarily to Resort and Spring. Striped sailor tops, dresses (somehow I’ve managed to buy a print navy dress each Spring the past four years), and colour combinations including anything navy and white, or navy, red, and white. A navy blazer instantly makes you think “conservative”. And except for the occasional sweater, navy hasn’t been a goto colour for Autumn. But these days navy is looking seriously chic. Take the slightly military-inspired coats that marched down the Calvin Klein runway, for instance, or the menswear-style slim coat from Alber Elbaz at Lanvin. Chloé’s Clare Waight Keller sent out a range of navies from bright to dark, in peacoats, capelets, long vests, and pinafores.
The best way to get in on navy now is to start with a coat. This season it’s not about layering; all you need are three elements for any ensemble: a coat, a top, and a skirt or pants. I would not say I was purposely ahead of the curve, but last year I purchased a narrow, single-breasted navy number from Stella McCartney, as well as a navy Céline Trapeze bag. I’ve never received so many compliments on a coat-and-bag combo.
Maybe it’s because in a sea of fashionable black, navy stands out. Plus, navy is a softer shade against the face. And we can all use some “softening up” now and then. As far as the easy factor, you can and should pair navy with black. If you’re still of the mindset that navy and black together are a fashion taboo, it’s time to change your mind. Every stylish Frenchwoman knows that navy and black make a très jolie pairing.
And then there’s grey, my favourite “non-colour”. I haven’t met a grey cashmere sweater I didn’t want. But grey now doesn’t have much to do with a cosy sweater; it has to do with a tailored coat like those at Stella McCartney, a fur-trimmed wool jacket from Reed Krakoff, or the divine wrap-sleeved coat at Céline. While you can go safe and wear grey with black, I like the contrast of a sharp white shoe, such as the one at Stella, or playing up grey’s paler aspects with a light pea-green leather boot à la Céline. In fact, treating grey as a pastel seems incredibly fresh and elegant – an idea I can’t wait to try.
Giorgio Armani Autumn/Winter ’13
Salvatore Ferragamo Autumn/ Winter ’13 Céline Autumn/ Winter ’13 Hermès Autumn/ Winter ’13 Proenza Schouler Autumn/ Winter ’13