Alber Elbaz said so, and so it is.
Some years ago—actually, it was the Fall/Winter 2003 collection—Elbaz sent some pretty Chantilly lace, silk, fur and satin ribbon down the Lanvin runway. Nothing new there. But the real difference? He let the femme meet the regimented and broke the expected softness and tranquility of the seemingly traditional with a few contemporary tweaks . . . namely, the exposed zipper.
And it’s been around ever since. Magazines and fashion blogs have been calling “the trend” since early last fall, even if Elbaz debuted that collection with the exposed zippers in March 2003—an eternity ago in the fashion world. Elbaz knew what he had stumbled upon and hasn’t let the exposed zipper leave his collection ever since.
So is it fair to really even call it a trend still? Probably not.
Elbaz did for the exposed zipper what Yves Saint Laurent did for the women’s pantsuit. In the seasons afterward, Versace, Burberry, Proenza Schouler, Balmain, Narcisco Rodriguez, Alexander Wang and others have followed suit, making for a surprising accent to all those flowy frocks and strappy platform sandals.
And then it trickles down to our level: The department stores. After that? Forever 21, of course.
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Just run over to your nearest store or check out Forever21.com for items such as the Zippered Placket Dress (pictured, $27.80), a lyocell (read: inexpensive, fake but pretty believable “silk” that unfortunately still carries the same dry-clean-only requirement) woven dress featuring a diagonal zipper placket, zippered chest pocket and two zippered hip pockets. It sounds like overkill, but it’s the perfect accent to the sea of soft charcoal the rest of the short dress has to offer. The dress even unzips all the way down, making for a cute layering piece with lots of potential for the fall.
Another affordable Forever 21 option? The Zipper Trim Knit Tunic ($22.80), a fairly body-concious top with rows of zippered trim on the sleeves and two hip pockets. The piece actually has more potential to make the wearer look horribly ’90s; let’s not wear the tunic as a dress so as to avoid looking like Kelly Bundy-meets-2009. (Let’s also avoid pairing the tunic with leggings. Leggings are not pants. Not that I advocate leggings, like, ever, but it seems they’re here to stay anyway. So please, please, just follow one rule: If you’re going to wear leggings, make sure your bum is covered. Thanks.)
Sound like too much? Look no further than Alexander Wang, who has been putting out some of the best updated basics. My fave is the Exposed Zip Knit Skirt ($350) from his Cruise 2010 line: A simple form-fitting pencil skirt with an exposed zipper running down the center back. Probably the safest way to venture into this “trend” that’s actually not going anywhere.