When Good Girls Go Fad

Cheap chic alternatives for when the fashion price is fright

Whoever said "fake it till you make it" wasn't talking about the fashion trends for spring 2007, a series of sartorial recommendations that can, and in fact should be, faked indefinitely. Because even if you make it, and make it big, why would you want to pay stratospheric prices for these will-o'-the-wisp fads? Virtually all these styles—which range from the frankly ridiculous to the borderline sub- lime—can be reproduced with a little effort at prices far, far below high-end design houses' intentions.

Witness the preferred outerwear of the upcoming season, which is, believe it or not, the humble anorak. Everyone from Dries Van Noten to Vera Wang is pushing these hooded draw-stringed jackets, basing their designs fairly literally on the authentic, cheap, and practical nylon versions. Since the ones they copied for their runway show came from the sporting-goods store, why shouldn't yours hail from Paragon as well?

In that contradictory way that makes fashion so special, there are also two diametrically opposed footwear imperatives for spring: the sky-high wedge and the ballet flat. The former should be dismissed out of hand—it's hard enough to walk across the shoe department in these things, let alone down a subway staircase. But there's good news regarding the ballet slipper, which looks really chic even when it's really cheap (unlike, say, a pair of Louboutin pumps). Don't be suckered into longing for the $500 Lanvin version: No one will get that close to your feet to sniff the difference. Although you can't just get these directly from the ballet store (dancing- shoes soles aren't street-worthy), they are currently available in abundance in shops like Strawberry or along 8th, 14th, or 34th streets.

As with shoes, there are also two major trends in frocks: the vintage-inspired print—beloved of Marc Jacobs and selling for $2,000 or so in his shops—and the trapeze dress. The vintage-esque dress should be purchased, as its name would indicate, at a flea market (try the Garage, weekends on 25th Street between Sixth and Seventh). The trapeze, being simple of line, plain of construction, and easy to whip up, is a perfect candidate for Zara and H&M.

But no season is complete without a dollop of the truly batty. Which brings us to what might be called Futurism, or the extreme makeovers prescribed by the influential Nicolas Ghesquiere at Balenciaga, and in smaller doses, from Narciso Rodriguez along with a smattering of other mavericks. This sci-fi fantasy—Ghesquiere admits to having been heavily influenced by The Terminatorand Tron—with patent breastplates and iridescent, patchwork, drainpipe trousers will have, it is almost certain, an extremely short shelf life. In other words, if you must, purchase an orange vinyl leather belt, or a headband, and be done with this.

Or add whatever flash and shine you feel you lack with a metallic handbag. A few very special people during last month's New York fashion shows were already toting the Louis Vuitton speedy miroir satchel, which looks like it's made out of tin foil (the heavy kind) and is so rarefied you have to add your name to a wait list and/or be willing to pay a hefty price for it. (They're currently going for around $3,000 on eBay.) But since you're not willing to pay three grand (or even $300), you should just sit tight until these bags appear for around $30, as they invariably will, on the excellent fake-bag tables set up on Fifth Avenue between 14th and 19th streets, or in the shadowy recesses of Canal Street, where "you make it, we fake it," is practically a way of life.


Lilly Daché: Glamour at the Drop of a Hat
March 13–April 21 Lilly Daché arrived in America from France in 1924 with a bankroll of $13; from that inauspicious beginning she built a business in the 1930s and '40s that offers an early lesson in multi-branding. Daché slapped her name on fragrances, ready-to-wear, and gloves, but her most notable contribution to fashion was her hats. Now FIT is mounting the first-ever exhibition of this powerhouse's work. Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), Seventh Ave and W 27th, 212-217-5800

Fashion in Film Festival
March 17–25 This exhaustive survey of films with fashion themes includes Paris Is Burning, Jennie Livingston's 1991 documentary about the downtown drag scene; Fig Leaves, a satiric silent movie directed by Howard Hawks that transplants Adam and Eve to the New York fashion world circa 1926; William Klein's iconic 1960s Who Are You, Polly Magoo?; and Isaac Mizrahi's 1995 behind-the-scenes Unzipped. Some screenings will feature lectures and personal appearances. Museum of the Moving Image, 35th Ave at 36th St, Qns, 718 784-0077

Manhattan Vintage Clothing and Antique Textile Show and Sale
April 20–21Even if you are not usually a used-clothes fanatic, today's high prices and retro styles (see above) should propel you into the vintage market. This multi-dealer show (over 80 vendors are expected) provides such a vast array of delectable fashions, dating from the late 19th century to pieces just a few seasons old, that it's difficult to leave empty-handed. But even if you don't buy, you will have enhanced your knowledge of fashion history just by gazing at get-ups that have inspired designers over the last several decades. Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 W 18th, 518-434-4312, $20

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