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Achy Feet Rejoice! Designers Are Showing Flats For Spring


Fashion designers in New York and London, Milan and Paris have spent the past month presenting their designs for next spring to retailers and the press. And it feels like some designers are finally hearing what real women often say they want - flat shoes, versatile, well-made clothes that are flattering and not distracting and age-appropriate elegance. One person who's seen it all first hand is Sally Singer. She is the digital creative director of vogue.com and has spent the past few weeks attending runway shows and visiting the studios and showrooms of these designers. She joins us from NPR's London bureau as Fashion Month wraps up. Good morning, Sally.

SALLY SINGER: Good morning.

CORNISH: So I hear there is one shake-up that could be in the works, and that is reports of the possible retirement of Oscar de la Renta.

SINGER: Yes, that's definitely something that has been commented on widely, although I think it is still a rumor. Oscar is one of the great American designers. And it's a kind of sad moment for those of us who love his work but also an incredible opportunity for a new designer to take on that house. And the person who is widely reported to be set to fill those shoes is Peter Copping who has been most recently the creative director of Nina Ricci in Paris.

CORNISH: What can you tell us about him and his style? What does he bring in terms of a generational shift?

SINGER: Well, Peter is a younger Englishman. He makes very articulated and lovely clothes. You know, he makes clothes where the waist is where the waist should be and the ribbons flutter in just the right way. Actually, this is one of those cases - and it's rare - where someone retires and they pick the perfect person to fill the job.

CORNISH: Now Oscar de la Renta was always a favorite on the Red Carpet - right? - with celebrities and Hollywood and...

SINGER: Oh, he just did the George Clooney/Amal's dress. It's the most beautiful thing ever, yes.

CORNISH: Oh, right, right, right. Well, this is the time of year when we kind of get a peak at what we might see later on the Red Carpet, right? Can you tell us about some of the really extraordinary pieces you saw this season?

SINGER: Well, OK. The first news for the Red Carpet is there's not a lot of big evenings. So all those Hollywood stars and people who like to wear a ball gown, they don't have a lot to choose from this time. And thank God, no one needs any more cantilevered cleavage.

CORNISH: (Laughter).

SINGER: The evening looks are so much more modern. It's much more nuance, much simpler - something from a long, fringe dress that Proenza Schouler which is kind of graphic and cool to the beautiful, beautiful velvet brocade suits - quite '70s. We just saw it - Louis Vuitton.

CORNISH: I'm hearing this described as a kind of '70s-luxe-hippie look? And this is a well that I feel like the fashion community dips into quite a bit. Who's doing it in a newer, interesting way?

SINGER: Well, it was across the board a very kind of luxe-boho season though - lots and lots of, like, to-the-floor, peasant-y dresses, lots of what I call festival girl clothes - you know, sequins and paisleys and stripes. But then you also had maybe the clothes that the hippest babysitter ever in the '70s might've worn, but they were all twisted so much you couldn't really tell the reference. It really looked like the way girls should dress right now.

CORNISH: When you describe the sensibility, it also leads me to another trend that you saw on the runways - flat shoes, which, you know, has been a trend for me for a very long time, (laughter) but you're saying that we're seeing more of it on the runways.

SINGER: Everything was flat. I mean, everywhere the models could walk because the shoes were stride-able flats. They were like Dr. Scholl's. And that took collections that normally seem very sort of dreamingly feminine and made them seem almost as though they could walk into your daily life. It's going to be hard to re-train women who believe they're four inches taller than they actually are to go there. But I think when they do, they'll be much, much happier.

CORNISH: Sally Singer, thanks so much for speaking with us.

SINGER: Thank you.

CORNISH: Sally Singer is the digital creative director of vogue.com. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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