My Thursday night at El Paseo Fashion Week did not have an auspicious beginning. I pulled into a parking space, only to have my headlights illuminate a couple who looked suspiciously like my parents (who are almost 80) making out so vigorously I had to avert my eyes before any shirts or skirts were lifted. In the VIP cocktail lounge, a woman wearing a white body con dress that barely covered her bowling ball-perfect breasts asked me who did my butt implant. I don’t have one, I told her. She pressed on, blinking her silver-tipped eyelashes and threatening to a take a butt-ie with her phone. “I’m a professor!” I blurted, which appeared to frighten her enough that she squirreled away her phone in a purse that looked like it might have a tiny dog hiding inside.
It was with great relief that I made my way to the media area, just as a melancholic organ medley pumped out of the speakers, and tipsy revelers wearing a mix of too-tight black dresses and some lovely prairie-inspired 90s floral numbers tiny-stepped to their seats. And then: a dream appeared, in the form of wearable, layered, gorgeous, wonderfully flattering clothes that shock the boring right out of wardrobe staple colors of black, white, beige, and even chambray, and knocked me straight out of my foul mood. Bare faced and bare-lipped models wearing sleek low ponytails showcased spring looks that mixed the best of minimalist fashion with bold silhouettes and just the tiniest bit of skin.
Rosetta Getty makes clothes that are clearly inspired by the wearable fashion made popular by the Scandinavian look that has, along with the concept of hygge, become so popular in recent years. A long fringe dress looked playful, not provocative, over a pair of matching flowing pants. A buttery red leather coat dress could serve several functions across seasons, and even the surprise of a coat that resembled a 70s shag rug, in shades of rust and brown, looked chic paired with a perfectly tailored pair of simple black trousers.
A silver lame dress styled with exactly matching silver oxford shoes proved that matching isn’t just for #tbt prom looks from the 80s anymore, and you don’t have to teeter on anything sky-high to elongate your frame. In fact, most of Getty’s fashions were paired with flats; a lovely, classic pointed toe pair with skinny ballet-slipper like ankle straps made several appearances, and looked ready and able to comfortably hit the pavement in any city, from Stockholm to New York.
Getty knows that part of channeling one’s inner goddess is leaving much to the imagination: a strategic drape, a flash of skin in only one place. A boat neck crop top with long sleeves had an entirely open back, and paired with form-fitting flared bottoms, created an 80s meets 90s meets 70s vibe, moving from top to bottom. There was an interesting mix of these decades in several styles. A boxy, crew neck crisp cotton t-shirt took the half-rolled sleeves popular in t-shirts of the 80s and added a small crisp bow above each elbow, the floppier “pussy bow” repurposed and reimagined. Ruffles abounded, but they never overwhelmed, and they never looked girlish. I almost passed out with glee to see one of my favorite combos of all time: a midi-length leather skirt with a mock neck short-sleeved top. Rosetta, you get me. When George Michael and Prince started playing from the speakers, I almost levitated from my seat.
Getty even makes shorts possible for those of us who feel self-conscious showing too much leg, spray tan or no spray tan: a pair of nearly knee-length shorts covered by a matching skirt that splits all the way to the waist, kind of like a maxi skort. What a refreshing change from the recent trend of booty shorts that make you look, look again, and then blush before looking away.
That doesn’t mean that there wasn’t some skin. It was all about the collarbone in many of these looks, which is perhaps one of the sexist things a woman can show, and accessible to most. Polka dots, gingham, and checkerboard patterns said, “sophisticate” instead of picnic, thanks to waist-nipping silhouettes and muted color palettes. The asymmetrical hem looked interesting, not just weird, when combined with pleats, playful sneakers, and cold shoulder tops in this season’s popular shade of siren red. Disproving the theory that nobody looks good in a sack dress, a full-length, free size cream silk number with a single bare shoulder has never made the Grecian goddess look seem so contemporary.
As I left the white tent, I stopped to peruse the racks ready for Friday’s trunk show. The black and white dress with a tomboy-ish tank top and a 50s flounce midi-skirt felt just as structured and classic on the hanger as it had on the runway model. The rust mini-dress with one long sleeve and one bare shoulder and arm practically begged to be tried on. The looks were less aspirational, and more empowering. You could see yourself wearing these looks, not wiggling into them and then regretting your purchase.
I certainly felt better as I floated down the escalators,. Just as I rounded the corner to the parking lot, the song “Ooh Child (Things are Gonna Get Easier),” by the Five Stairsteps started pumping from the street speakers. I wondered if the couple from earlier had gotten a room, or maybe just had their fun in the backseat of their luxury SUV. I was brimming with good will for everyone.
Can fashion save the world? Of course not. But it can alter your mood, and in that sense transform the world for just a moment into a more remarkable and livable place. That, and the goddess lurking in every woman, is something worth celebrating.
VIDEO: Watch the entire collection of designer Rosetta Getty at Fashion Week El Paseo.