Fashion forward for fall
Earthy, muted tones make an entrance

By LaReeca Rucker

In the summer of 1886, Vincent van Gogh created Coleus Plant in a Flowerpot in Paris, an oil painting of a simple potted plant with amber-colored leaves.

The painting and a visit to Amsterdam, where the Van Gogh Museum is located, helped inspire the fall and winter fashion collections of New York designer Hilton Hollis, 33. 

The Natchez native, who is gaining notability in the fashion industry, will visit his home state in October to celebrate the opening of a Jackson clothing store that will carry his line. Although the temperatures haven't dropped much yet, fashion trends for upcoming seasons can already be spotted. 

Many designers, including Hollis, will be going back to black this fall, but color won't entirely disappear. They'll pair black with bright hues. Hollis said Van Gogh inspired many of the fabric prints in his fall and winter collections. 

"What a lot of people know about Van Gogh is that he used really heavy paint known for its texture, but a lot of his paintings aren't like that," Hollis said. "I went into the print development with those same concepts." 

The Netherlands, Van Gogh's birthplace, was also inspirational.

"We were definitely influenced by Amsterdam and the very modern approach that people take toward fashion," he said. "The city is really becoming known as one of the areas of the fashion world that is untapped. They have a very avant-garde approach to fashion." 

Hollis told National Public Radio in May that his designs were also partially influenced by the gothic architecture of Natchez. With refinement and sophistication in mind, he creates clothing that is structural and clean. 

"The first group, which is actually in stores right now, was really about the idea of mixing navy with black, which is a huge trend in fashion thiss eason," he said. "We interjected ruby, sapphire and some lighter shades of blue." 

Hollis said he gives the trends a nod each season, but doesn't always follow them when creating pieces. Instead, he aims for a classic aesthetic with timeless appeal. Hollis said coral, topaz, amber and green - rich and earthy colors that look good on most skin tones - will be popular. 

"Another trend we are seeing is the whole idea of fashion in the Eastern European (countries), which is more muted tones. That's been very important this fall." 

Hollis said plaid has been a strong player in the market the last few years. 

"I see someone in plaid and immediately think of Burberry or a kilt," said Hollis, who was swayed to adopt plaid after viewing pre-fall 2009 Italian fabrics. "By the end of the meeting, I had already picked out three or four plaids. It was the way they treated them. They weren't your typical plaids, and I was actually really shocked that I liked them." 

Another emerging fall trend is foil printing or embossed fabric, Hollis said. It can currently be seen in Oscar de la Renta's work. 

"It's all about texture," said Hollis, who moved to New York in 1997 and studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Since then, he's scollaborated with some of the industry's most highly respected designers, including John Bartlett and Dana Buchman. His collection debuted in the spring of 2006, and the line is now carried bymore than 80 boutiques. 

Mississippians will have the opportunity to meet Hollis and view his fall line Oct. 13-14 when he attends the grand opening of The Rogue & Good Company's new women's clothing store 4450. 

Kim McMullan, the store's clothing buyer, said other fall trends are denim, scarves and skinny jeans in a variety of washes. "Colors for fall are purple, grays and golden tones," she said. 

Mary Grace Penick, manager and buyer for the Ridgeland store CoatTails that also carries the Hilton Hollis line, said purple and gray will be popula rfall colors, and shoppers will see metallic boots and shoes. "Low boots called 'booties' are going to be in style, and you can wear themwith tights and dresses," she said. 

They'll also be wearing high-waist skirts and jeans this fall. Layered bangle bracelets are hot. Gray jeans will be popular, and flats remaint rendy. 

Amanda Frusha, manager of The Polkadot Pony in Jackson, agreed that purple will be a big color this fall, as well as metallics. "Peace signs and the whole going green movement will continue to be big," she said. Retro dresses are still in style, as are leggings and skinny jeans. "Layering is always good," she said, adding that animal prints will betrendy. 

Hollis said it's important to think outside the box when it comes to fashion. "A lot of people say, 'I don't wear black suits. I don't wear the color navy. I don't wear cream,'" he said. "Something in their psyche has turned them off to that, but maybe they just haven't had the right piece in that color." 

Hollis said trying new things may lead to pleasant surprises. To him, fashion is about personal growth. "I'm all about making people feel good about themselves, and I'm always trying to push them to the next level," he said. "Who doesn't like to have people tell them they look great? That's going to make your confidence go up."