I love resort collections because they are usually a little less esoteric and a little more practical, featuring simpler lines and lighter, more wearable fabrics. Unlike haute couture collections, the resort wear pieces are easier to translate into an everyday wardrobe. The 2012 collections have gone down the runway and several of them are worth a look; even if we can't afford the designer pieces themselves, we can certainly afford to be inspired by them.
View slideshows of 2012 Resort collections online.
Chanel Resort 2012
I am a loyal Chanel fan, and even though Karl Lagerfeld is a strange character, I think his design aesthetic is gorgeous. I may not relate to the weird white-leather thong/sandal/knee-high boots on the models but I did respond to the bright, sunny, yellow color that pops in a collection of whites and blacks. Asymmetrical necklines, cut-outs and lots of floral embroidery provide visual interest. I'm also in love with the jewelry that is styled with the collection: Diamonds in celestial designs of stars, comets and moons, including big, bold brooches. I love a good brooch, and Uncle Karl has scattered them--like stars--throughout the looks on his runway models.
Alexander McQueen Resort 2012
The wedding gown she designed for Kate Middleton made a big splash, and now Sarah Burton for McQueen delivers a stunning, romantic Resort 2012 collection. Like most resort wear the lines are clean and the looks are largely tailored, but feminine details keep the design from moving into androgynous territory: Well-placed pleating, ruffles, embroidery and stunning white lace pieces give this McQueen collection textural interest. There are a few skirts that are a "miss" in terms of proportion--if you're not 5'10 or taller, your skirts shouldn't be both tulip-shaped and mid-calf length--but the overall effect is one of "practical romance. Although the two collections are widely divergent, I find it interesting that both Lagerfeld of Chanel and Burton for McQueen incorporated the kick-pleat in their 2012 resort collections. A tailored skirt with a kick pleat is a favorite of mine; flouncy, bouncy skirts don't work on me and I love the balanced effect the kick pleat offers by combining femininity with practical, clean lines.
Michael Kors Resort 2012
Michael Kors is, as Heidi Klum is wont to say on Project Runway, "the king of American sportswear." I must admit that I have never been successful when shopping for Kors' clothes myself, but I suspect he isn't designing for 4-foot-10 pear-shaped ladies. His 2012 resort collection features bright neons mixed with black, and the result is very Body Glove-circa-1991. Somehow Michael pulls it off, and the result is both fun and surprisingly realistic. Bonus points to Michael for styling the models with sandals--imagine putting them in footwear that one would actually wear on a beach vacation!
Jason Wu Resort 2012
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When Michelle Obama wore Jason Wu's white, crystal-beaded and embroidered silk chiffon gown to her husband's inauguration in January of 2009 she launched the designer to a new level in the fashion world. The one-shouldered frock solidified the first lady's fashionista status, and Wu has since released several beautiful collections. His 2012 resort collection is among the most wearable of the season, but retains his trademark feminine, alluring overall aesthetic. Perhaps I respond so strongly to Wu's clothes because I see a Chanel-like influence in tailoring; whatever it is, I covet almost every single piece of this collection.
Alice + Olivia Resort 2012
The keywords for this collection: Fun, flirty, and vintage-inspired. Glimmers of '40s, '50s, '60s and even '70s emerge in the design and styling of the Alice + Olivia 2012 resort collection. Bright colors dominate, making the black-and-white pieces pop for a change and big, floppy hats are everywhere. The whole collection makes me want to live my life poolside; it's a sophisticated take on the Katy Perry candy-princess vibe, and I love it.