Neiman Marcus Fashion Director Ken Downing Talks Fashion Trends

Neiman Marcus Fashion Director Ken Downing talks this season’s trends and gives us a sneak peak at next season’s must haves in part two of our interview.

If you’re feeling a bit uninspired by your current wardrobe, Ken will surely inspire you to get back on those gladiator sandals (hint, hint), grab your credit card and your man (yes, we thought about our stylish men in this post) and go shopping.


SF: What are your top picks right now?

KD: Cool blues, every shade of blue and warm and harmonious hues together. Orange is the new neutral and you can wear orange head to toe or it can be an orange handbag, and orange shoe or it can be an orange manicure—I’m just kind of crazy about [an orange manicure].

The idea of lace, and not lace for evening necessarily, but lace for day and night. What makes lace look new is color: orange lace, blue lace, hot pink, lime green. And as we go into fall, black lace is going to be very important as this whole idea of lace continues to move forward.


Gladiator sandals if they’re flat, on a heel, or even gladiator boots. And I’ll tell you it came from Fifty Shades of Grey. We saw a lot of “pretty meets provocative” [on the runway]. A lot of fashion designers were actually referencing the book, even many said, “Well I didn’t read the book, but I was thinking about what people were reading in the book.” So you have this provocative footwear that has big wide ankle straps or interesting gladiator boots that go up the leg.

The idea of a bright colored handbag, if you’re wearing yellow you should have an electric blue handbag. If you’re wearing electric blue you should wear a hot pink handbag. Colors that clash actually look really modern for the moment, so a hot colored handbag is very, very important.

There’s a real ease that is happening in fashion right now too. I call it “relaxed chic.” There is still polish to what we’re seeing, but a little bit of an ease. It’s a nod to what’s happening for spring, a couture sweatshirt; instead of a sweatshirt in fleece you’re seeing a sweatshirt in chiffon or in lace. Interesting luxury fabric tract pants have been done in a really super couture sort of way, just a bit more volume. There’s going to be a lot of volume at play as we come into the fall season.


Prints everywhere, lead by stripes—big, bold black and white cabana stripes—and then mixing pattern with print. A lot of designers actually collaged fabrics together with different prints for a single ensemble so it took a lot of the guess work out for our customer.

For fall, this whole idea of violets and these beautiful deep Burgundies and wines that go into light reds.


SF: What about for men, we always feel like they get left out.

KD: You know it’s interesting, because a lot of what we are seeing on the runway for women and men often have parallels and ideas. A lot of blues throughout the entire season a real kind of soft tailoring is taking place inside of menswear. Instead of the jacket being more rigid, it has a little bit more of a softness.

For both men and for women as we go into fall, the rocker jacket is a must have. We are seeing a lot of rock ‘n’ roll influences and referencing. The MET costume exhibit is punk. The David Bowie V&A exhibit delves into his glam rock, Ziggy Stardust period and the New Museum had the 1993 exhibit that touched on grunge. So you’re seeing this amalgam of rock ‘n’ roll. We saw early in the season biker and motocross jackets for women in colorful leather and that same idea, a leather topper for men as we go into the fall season is a black rocker jacket. If you are a guy, you are going to wear it with a suit or skinny pant for a real kind of English sensibility.

A lot of jewel tones as we go into fall for men too: Bordeaux, emerald, and topaz. So, color and print everywhere for men this season.

Photos and Interview by Kristianne Young

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