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PARIS Spring 2004
This is good news for those of us who want to be taken seriously in the workplace (and the world at large), who do not want to look as though we are heading out to a costume party, and who strive to look chic, womanly, elegant, modern, alluring, appealing, professional, and intelligent. This is hardly a moment for ridiculous, inappropriate, over the top statements, and it is certainly not a time when most women want to be objectified by designers who are simply exercising their fantasies. Because of the political, social, and economic climate we live in, a subtler aesthetic in both grooming and fashion- and one that is routed in the classics- seems to be the most appropriate way to go. Most importantly, there continue to be many options being offered- freedom of choice. This puts it in the hands of the customer to decide what works best for her age, lifestyle, occupation, body type, and personality. And this to me is the essence of 'modern',

Speaking of 'modern', I think it's worth noting that the ghost of Coco Chanel (arguably one of the most brilliant designers and one of the most modern women of all time) was looming over the Bryant Park Tents this past week (as it has been- not just here but everywhere- for decades). Not only were versions of her tweed jacket worn by many in the audience, but more than just a few designers began their shows with a lightweight or deconstructed rendition of the iconic tweed coat or jacket that she made famous. The intelligent and well thought out aesthetic put forth by Madame is more relevant, timely, and appealing now than ever, and though overt copies and references are certainly not what designers should be striving for, the undercurrent mood and philosophy that was at the heart of this designing symbol cannot be denied or underrated.

Even though the idea of fashion may seem frivolous, it is undeniably big business. As reported in the front section of the New York Times the day after the shows, "volumes of orders attributable to Fashion Week could rise to $400 million in retail sales value this year from $360 million spent a year ago." So, what then can we expect to see in the stores - and on the backs of the customer- in about 6 months? This is how the season broke down: