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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

This Spring Is About Making Love, Not War

For MTThe new season's hippyish, Eastern-influenced look, in a design by John Galliano
Far from being an air-headed pursuit for those with their head in the clouds, fashion has shown that it follows the news.

Of course, this should come as no surprise: Style has always been a sign of the times. Fashion keenly reacts to political and economic changes, transforming itself under their influence -- and the Sept. 11 tragedy has been no exception. The terrorist attacks turned style on its head, reversed the direction of recent trends and forced fashion to rethink its values.

Unfortunately for many of the world's designers, the tide turned at exactly the wrong time. Almost overnight, new collections became unfashionable at the beginning of their season.

Less than a year ago, the traditional ready-to-wear shows at the end of spring saw the world's catwalks take on a style more suited to a firing range or ordnance yard. Military uniforms, camouflage prints, khaki tones and heavy boots reigned in many designers' autumn-winter 2001-2002 collections. And the public was admiring, applauding this so-called terrorist chic.

Belgian designer Raf Simons' "antiglobalist" collection had men in such "accessories" as hijab-like head scarves completely covering the face, and utility belts adorned with bullets. Male models at Italian designer Roberto Cavalli's show wore military jackets, epaulets and even sweaters with bullet holes. Women's fashions followed the same trends, while welcoming the triumphant return of black.

When real terrorists showed their strength Sept. 11, a shocked fashion world hastily retreated from "dangerous" designs. The U.S. fashion newspaper Women's Wear Daily posed the question of "Fashion's new taboo?" as early as Oct. 1 -- with an article citing several designers and fashion editors resoundingly answering "yes."

Any flirtation with militaristic themes in clothing was thus branded a fashion taboo. Also suddenly out of favor was the Middle Eastern theme, which before the attacks had been paraded as a possible favorite for this spring and summer. Spanish-born designer Miguel Adrover, considered one of the most promising, "suffered" most of all from the tragic events: After heavy criticism of his Mideastern-flavored collection in the wake of the attacks, investor Leiber Group hurriedly shut down Adrover's company. As American stylist Kusum Lynn commented about her Mideast-themed fashion shoot "Eastern Bloc," made for Russian Harper's Bazaar right before the attacks and published in the December issue anyway: "We cannot deny the whole [Arabian] tradition because of the group of fanatics."

Still, world fashion has switched over to pure, peaceful themes for this spring and summer, with simplicity as the guiding principle. Clothing should reflect a light and serene mood.

The timeless color black has been dethroned from its dominant position and forced to surrender its usually aggressive style. It now takes on a more lightweight personality with lace and flounces -- and should only come out in the evening. Its eternal opponent, the color white, is on top now, playing the main role in creating the romantic image that is this season's favorite. A white blouse with handmade lace, long floral-print skirt, wedge espadrilles and macrame-like bag -- this is what you need for the right look this spring.

Patchwork, folkloric embroidery, knitted jackets, pastel colors and loose-fitting silhouettes are also in the arsenal of the romantic peasant girl, who is the main heroine but not the only one in today's pluralistic fashion. Neo-country is cohabitating with neo-grunge and neo-hippy. However, the aggressive and shabby "Nirvana" look is giving way to a girlish look with mini-dresses and skirts, sometimes with an asymmetric cut as in Christian Dior collections, and slouchy pants, but with heel-strap sandals instead of heavy boots.

The hippy style is the next strong inspiration for many designers, from Marc Jacobs to Dolce & Gabbana and Roberto Cavalli. Just look at photos of Woodstock flower children to get the general idea: floral prints, denim, macrame accessories.

Folkloric and ethnic themes have been returning to fashion collections, but the movement is away from the Middle East, tending slightly westward to Morocco, or further east to India and Tibet, with Indian-style pants and saris, and bright colors such as orange, rose, blue and purple.

Africana is also back in style. Loose overalls, especially with leopard-prints, and four-pocket suits together with cocoa-hued accessories, sandals and plait bags feature in the safari style for summer, fit for wearing not only in Africa, but also in Moscow or New York.

And don't forget turquoise, the favorite stone of this season.

The motto of this spring's fashion? "Make love, not war."

Two outfits from Raf Simons' "anti-globalist" collection, now considered to be taboo.

Miguel Adrover's Middle-Eastern themed collection is now deemed out of style.