If you’re a fashion addict like I am, you know Neiman Marcus SVP and Fashion Director, Ken Downing is a big deal. He sits front row at every major show at fashion week and counts Anna Wintour as a friend. Last week, Ken Downing stopped at the Neiman Marcus at the Shops at La Cantera to showcase top 2015 trends at a runway event benefiting the DoSeum. I had the privilege of sitting down with him for a chat and discovered he is just as kind, engaging and fun as he appears on his ever-active Instagram. Below is a summary of our conversation, along with some beautiful photos (shot by the talented Candace Schaddelee of Rememory Photography) of his personally curated looks.
BRITTANY NORMAN: What are some of the most important trends you’re seeing this year?
KEN DOWNING: This whole idea of a retro-rewind inspired by the 1970s is very powerful this spring and heading in to fall 2015. Right now, the music of the 1970s has a very strong influence. It was an interesting time between the hippy, flower child vibe of the ’60s and then the Disco era. I think we’ll see more Disco influence for fall. Overall, hemlines are longer, pants are flared and there is this whole feel of long and lean silhouettes. And don’t tell me you’re too short to wear flared pants – they can be flattering at any height!
BN: Yes! I appreciate that at 5’4″. Bring on the platforms!
KD: Exactly. Look at Rachel Zoe!
BN: Speaking of Rachel Zoe, Are there particular designers leading the way for this look on the runway?
KD: Saint Laurent. And I loved everything shown by Joseph Altuzarra at Paris Fashion Week. He showed these beautiful lace pieces, with high necklines. It was a luxe, folkloric look, encompassing the best of the 1970s. There were also nods to Victorian and military influences, which were also very prevalent in that era.
BN: So, in essence, everything old is new again?
KD: Absolutely. Yet, just like any time trends re-surface, it’s a bit re-fit and re-styled. There is just a different and more sophisticated way that clothes are made these days. The pieces look like the human hand has touched them, with beautiful artisan details, whip stitching, beading.
BN: Neiman Marcus has deep roots in Texas and has always celebrated the spirit of Texas women. What about Texas women in particular inspires you?
KD: Texas women always bring it. My mother certainly never left the house in curlers! The Texas woman doesn’t only dress well for events or society. She has a desire to look her absolute best every day. Mr. Stanley [Marcus] brought luxury to a place (Dallas) that had previously been overlooked as a fashion epicenter and believed in bringing the world to Texas. Now, the mystique of Texas women is important and has gained global interest – just look at Karl Lagerfeld’s Paris-Dallas Chanel campaign (2013/2014). In the 1950s Mr. Stanley supported Coco Chanel, even when she wasn’t well-received at first by fashion editors. Without Neiman Marcus, who knows what may have happened?
And what would we do without that iconic tweed?
To see all the runway looks from Ken’s presentation, click here.