The Los Angeles Times has heralded the upcoming season’s look as a “new era of clean minimalism.” Simple elegance and natural style will be welcome news for those who prefer a less fussy approach to fashion and beauty. While Stella McCartney and Chloe may have ushered this fresh period in with runway shows in major cities, the Hudson Valley’s host of talented designers, makeup artists, and other beauty and clothing experts haven’t been idle themselves.
Take Jillian Grano, proprietor of Utility Canvas and a new line, Archerie, for instance. “Right now we’re riding the wave of people wanting things that are practical and functional and not frivolous,” she says. “Our clothes are enjoying the popularity of that right now, though we think that’s important all the time.”
While many will think of canvas—sturdy yet soft and linenlike—as classic and preppy, Grano says the goal of Utility Canvas has been to provide a modern take on the material and provide comfort and function in pieces that are still stylish. Shoppers can ride this clean-edges wave from summer right into the fall with a shirred shirt dress, available in red and white with contrasting stitching and a button-down front. Grano says the dress is a great transitional piece for this time of year—you can finish out the summer bare-legged and then when a chill sets in, use the dress as a lightweight coat. She also recommends Utility Canvas’s quilted outerwear, particularly the natural cream-colored version, which will be a popular color choice for fall.
As much of a staple as Utility Canvas has become for the people who’ve inspired its look—the gardeners, artists, and creatives of the Hudson Valley—there are just come things you can’t quite pull off with canvas. With that in mind, Grano in 2009 launched Archerie, a new line of dresses that provides a polished look suitable for an office or a night out while still maintaining a sense of practicality. For example, the line’s new collared shirtwaist dress is made of an organic merino wool jersey that’s machine washable. Browse through the fall line full of tweed, herringbone, and A-lines, and you might find a common thread style-wise—each outfit seems to hearken back to a time when women wore dresses 24/7. That nostalgic thought is the basis of Archerie, and with shows like “Mad Men” reviving such elegant styles, Grano is expecting to see a lot more of these looks this fall. The look will be defined by what she calls the “feminine silhouette.”
One of the things about buying clothing that comes from local designers is that it’s most likely been designed with you in mind. So is the case with Mary Vaughn Williams of White Rice, whose private-label line ideas are fueled by the people she sees shopping in Hudson and Great Barrington, where her stores are located. According to her, one big fashion idea this fall is the short skirt, which can be worn with bare legs or a bit more modestly with a pair of opaque tights. One of Williams’ favorites right now is the parachute skirt from her White Rice line. Available in short, midcalf, and long lengths, the skirt’s textured parachute material scrunches up at both sides. With a variety of dress styles and wrap silhouettes slated to hit her shelves, Williams is also excited about the shoes that she’ll be carrying, most notably the ankle boots that she says will be popular this fall and pair well with the aforementioned fashions or with a tucked-in skinny jean.
Fit is superimportant, especially for women that might be trying to swing something that’s inherently a bit masculine, like a plaid pattern or a cargo pant. De Marchin is actually restocking his shelves with a fresh order of fitted, legginglike cargo pants that are tailored to hug the feminine form. He had ordered a couple of pairs for summer, but the fit was so flattering that he now has a waiting list for his next shipment.