Fall 2012 Trends: Ornate

Posted on March 27, 2012



It makes a certain amount of sense when you think about. The world economy remains a frightening, unsteady thing, so of course the runways wind up clogged with a bunch of models who look like wallpaper in Versailles.



Dolce & Gabbana



Mary Katrantzou

Stella McCartney

Some designers are clearly indulging these impulses more dramatically than others but we have to say, for our money, it’s the ones who know how to deploy it elegantly and in a relatively understated manner that wind up offering the most chic pieces. Either way, these sorts of grandly ornate elements always drift in and out of style. So are you the type of gal who likes to stir a little ro into her coco or do you just say “to hell with it,” and go for Baroque?

What we’re trying to say, in our cheesy little way, is:

The Fall 2012 trend for Ornate Styles: Yea or Nay?



[Photo Credit: vogue.it, elle.com, style.com]

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  • Vaniljekjeks

    Yea!  I have a fetish for ornate patterns.  

  • Maria Rosenfire

    Yea, damn it! I want to be the kind of person who has the occasion to wear sparkly shit like this, but failing that I enjoy deploying ornate accents (filigree earrings, exquisitely patterned scarves, maybe a print blouse if I’m feeling daring) to keep a look classy and interesting.

  • Nay.

  • Except Katrantzou’s.

    • Alisa Rivera

      Agree! She manages to make it look light and wearable while everyone else looks like they’re smothering the models.

      ETA: Er, except for the neck muff. But that looks like it can be taken off.

    • JimMcC

      The woman can do no wrong. At least as far as I’m concerned. I actually love the Balmain as well. But for the life of me, I can’t figure out how Stella McCartney is still a designer.

      • introspective

        nobody can. except for the bankrolling billionaire dad thing. cause it sure aint the clothes.

      • drdirection

        her stuff always makes me think…ugh!

      • Celandine1

         I still can’t figure out exactly whom her clothes flatter … not the models … not the starlets … not regular people.

    • Jameela AbdulGhani

      I should have clarified that I only really like the Valentino the rest of the stuff (And I do like the last Katrantzou’s as well)

  • Yay! I want to make wedding cakes like these.

  • Judy_J

    It’s a bit too fussy for me.  Nay.

  • JosephLamour

    I was just looking at a men’s button down like these. The key to doing it right and being a man is making sure you don’t look like a member of Jodeci.

    • HAHAHAHAHA!  Loving the Jodeci reference!

  • Isana Leshchinskaya

    i lurve it and am just the right type of klimt/renoir/vermeer/pre-raphaelite hybrid to pull this off

    • That is seriously spanning a lot of genres/eras. But I know what you mean. I lurve, too. I wear plain, but my house is as ornate as I can get it (read: not one thing or surface free of pattern and color, except the bathroom, where I prefer serenity).

  • Anathema_Device

    Yea. I absolutely love it, mostly for the workmanship involved. I wouldn’t wear it because I don’t really go anywhere that would warrant this level of showiness. I really love the Balmain pants with the cream sweater. That pairing makes those over-the-top pants look so effortless and cool. 

    • Jameela AbdulGhani

      Ok, I’ll go with that Balmain too.

  • VioletFem

    YEAH. If done right, it can be breathtaking. I especially like the Aquilano.Rimondi .

  • MK03

    Yea. LOVE intricate beading and embroidery on my gowns. 

  • Abso-freaking-lutely YAY! Gorgeous pieces of wearable art, they gladden my heart! This is what couture should be; fantastical, extravagant, and beautiful.

  • Browsery

    I like the first outfit.  It’s peasant embroidery elevated to the level of couture.  The empire waist dress with the color in the fourth or fifth set of photos is nice as well.

  • alyce1213

    Some of these are beautiful, particularly for the exquisite workmanship and luxe fabrics.
    I shudder to think what will happen when this look gets filtered down to ready-to-wear.

    • Pennymac

      hahaha! I was thinking the same thing. I hope we’re not in for some hideous screen printing!

    • formerlyAnon

      “I shudder to think what will happen when this look gets filtered down to ready-to-wear.”

      Yup. A lot of walking brocade sofas and the kind of hot-glued embellishments that should be confined to high school theater.

  • belfebe

    I love it all.  And I am happy to see that booties are still trendy.

  • BayTampaBay

    For once I actually love the Marchesa gowns or at least the onces shown looks shown in this post.

    • ballerinawithagun

      Yes, I’ve been despising the overly ruffly Marchesa lately but I love these.

  • The green Rimondi suit is lovely, if a bit Narcissa Malfoy.  And the Balmain – where they get the balance right – not allover ornamentation, but one piece contrasted with something simple and easy like the cream sweater.  The Stella McCartney on the other hand look like the fanciest airhostesses in the world.  Man, that first dress of hers is dowdy, though it cannot touch the pregnant-sister-wife vibe of the Giles one with the collar.  And look, the D&G embroidered toaster cover looks as silly on the model as it did on Diane Kruger.

    • another_laura

      I do believe that yours is the first ever fashion reference to Narcissa Malfoy that I’ve seen.  well done!

  • Easy to go over the top with this, but the sight gladdens my Baroquen heart.  Yea!

  • IMNAngryLiberal

    I’ve seen ornate come and go several times and to quote Bill the Cat “Ack!”.  These are the types of clothes that wear women rather than the other way around.  Although I kind of like the Balmain pieces, I know I don’t have the shape or the personality to rise above the clothes (nor will most of the women who buy them :))

  • ballerinawithagun

    Yea! I love ornate clothing! Especially the my own designs…

  • lalahartma


  • RebeccaKW

    I love the blue in the first row.  For the most part, I think it’s something that should be deployed in small doses rather than head to toe.  But it’s nice.

  • Yea-ish.

    I think the first Stella McCartney look screams JC Penney. Honestly, I like it on some looks, hate it on others. Really I tend to like it when some designers use it, hate it when others do. Mary Katrantzou has a fantastic idea of how to use it, but make it modern.

  • Isy

    Love the Aquilano and Balmain, but mostly this is a NAY for me.

  • I love the first Balmain, the second Dolce and Gabbana, the third Marchesa, the first Mary Katrantzou and the last Stella McCartney so much. Ambivalent about most of the others, but I would cut a bitch to have all of those. So YEA, I guess.

  • Yea!  Absolutely gorgeous, feminine, and timeless.  Beautiful, and thats it.

  • Jennifer L.

    In doses, this is gorgeous. I really want to see Rooney Mara in the first Aquilano.Rimondi piece! 

  • MilaXX

    YEA!,  but where the hell are the models breast in that first Giles dress?

    • funkypeanut

      That look does remind me of Tim Curry in a corset.

  • Mostly a NAY, but I’m more of a Calvin Klein/simplistic dresser.  

  • kimmeister

    It’s a weird post in which my favorites are actually the Marquesa and Stella McCartney pieces.  Yikes!

  • Sure, why not? I’ll be looking forward to see how this translates to RTW.

  • I can’t see anyone wearing any of these in the real world. Nea

  • Yea. I’ve definitely seen worse.  This reminds me of when Dolce and Gabana did a Napoleonic line.

  • gdougs

    I would never personally wear it, but I love the way it looks on the models and I’m sure it would look fantastic in an editorial.

  • is it ture when economy goes down the fashion looks LOUD

  • is it ture when economy goes down the fashion looks LOUD

  • Wow..I feel whiplash. It’s the 80’s all over again. I REALLY like those matador pants up top.

  • Yay Balmain, Nay everything else.

  • I’m going to wear that third Marchesa gown the next time I run to the Dollar Store.
    These are truly beautiful, but who REALLY wears this stuff?

  • Yea, but only when it’s done deftly and beautifully.  The McCartney and D&G patterns are too heavy handed to my eye.  The Katrantzou is certainly too much for street wear but it’s the most visually striking – that and that Balmain tea-length are my runway favorites.  I’m thinking (hoping really) that the Giles interpretation has the best chance to trickle down into some gorgeous brocades for the common girl.  

  • carolynmo


  • Nay. It looks dated even in debut. 

  • introspective

    im of mixed mind on it. it can be fab when done right. it can sear the eyes when done wrong. at first glance above im feeling more seared than sold. 

  • NDC_IPCentral

    Yay.  I’m always in favor of beauty and utilization of exquisite, specialized skills – crafts that can be in danger of extinction.  I haven’t an occasion in the world to wear such elaborate outfits, but I can appreciate their handsomeness as works of art, and be glad that I don’t have to pay for them or store them!

  • marilyn

    Yay.   At least it is elegant and removed from the grunge/street vibe.   Somewhat uneven results, but good overall.

  • formerlyAnon

    I like looking at them, but wearing?  Nay. For me, at least. You have to have an impeccable eye for proportion to wear the big ornate stuff when you are an average-to-small person.

    Even imposing women of presence need to have (or hire) an impeccable eye to wear the big ornate stuff.

  • There’s nothing wrong with beauty in big, heaping spoonfuls. Yea!

  • Hunger Games Much?  Looks like Effie Trinket will be over the moon!

  • annieanne

    Yea. The world needs a little glamour and glitz just now.

  • LOVE it!

  • PhillipWilde

    YEA!  Gawgeous.

  • CarolynDarin

    that Marchesa dress with the teal made my heart stop for a moment. Beautiful. 

  • It can look good if it’s done right. Honestly, if I was a pretty little startlet who was invited to events that called for such frocks, I would totally love to wear the Marchesa dress with the blue scroll work…then TLo would yell at me for wearing something flesh colored…playing fantasy dress up is fun…

  • lindacas

    Those all look bulky and stiff.  Do the Balmain ones glow in the dark?

    How do they do all manage to get on the same page?  Is there a secret, private email list for high end designers?  “Let’s all overdo Ornate this year!”  

  • Snailstsichr

    I had a bleak day on 2/29/12 – and then I read one of your posts and you said “Beauty is good for the soul.” I promptly wrote that on a post-it and it lives on my desk and when I get tot stresses, I go look at something beautiful. Like this post. It makes my day.

    In other words, thanks guys for bringing some beauty and whimsy to my grey cubicle. I appreciate all you do.

    And I love these ornate garments! I vote Yay!

  • holdmewhileimnaked

    i like the mary katrantzou the best, especially the last one. i also really like the first balmain, the blue marchesa. the first & last giles are pretty good. the rest is, oh, okay. & i was so happy to be seeing some better things from stella mccartney [like a lot of people i am totally on her side but wish her work were, i dont know, i guess–better, maybe? i think better covers it, actually] but these are not among them. these are not dynasty theyre knockoffs: dynasty by talbot’s. oh heavens no.

    otoh, mary katrantzou up there is one of the best of the most recent crop of designers, i think. as an aside & if people are unaware, she’s younger than almost everyone from PR, PRAS. she, to me, is one of the very few recent fashion people that puts the lie to the idea you cant be good while under thirty. you can. it’s not common but it is possible. the only slight pollutant for me would be if she comes from so much money that she has an excessive unfair advantage [ie: lorenzo’s yesterday pal, marina del rey]. otoh & unlike MdR [jr], MK is truly talented. i hope when she moves on from doing the prints she stays as solid & original as she is now.

    otoh, the marchesa for whom marchesa is named is always more interesting than the clothing–& she, at one time, had plenty of cash. i always am curious as to how GG decided to name her brand. i am curious as to how GG even knew about luisa casati at all.

    oh, the world can be full of mystery. at least once in awhile.

  • Jacqueline DiOrio

    In; especially love the Marchesa, Giles, and 

  • Kind of OBSESSED.  I’m hoping for flourishes in the ready to wear stuff that hits stores (i.e., around collars, around waists, hems) but not all over the garments because I don’t think I can handle all of it or carry it over season to season.  Hopefully some accessories will come up too.

  • YES.

  • up with pod people

    I’m a total pushover for damask and embroidery, always have been. The more fairytale the better.

  • Mrs

    I don’t think I can wear it but I like looking at it.

    • Lisa

      Yeah, I agree – this is where I was torn on whether or not to give it a Yay or a Nay.

  • BrightsideSusan

    Do they all have a style strategy meeting before they start designing?  Spies?  How does this happen?  I do love some of the looks.

  • 3boysful

    Generally like.

    The Giles collection kinda cracked me up:  they thoughtfully produce a  version for the Hollywood starlet (L), the modest Amish or Muslim fashionista (C), and the pregnant sister-wife(R)!

  • Imasewsure

    Kind of love the Balmain pants and sweater (oh this old thing… just threw it on) and the Katrantzou patterns I like more than her usual patterns – Stella McCartney’s stuff looks exceptionally hiddy to me though – kind of ugly matronly mall-store hiddy…

  • another_laura

    YEA!!  I’ll take any of that Dolce & Gabbana.  I’d feel like Spanish royalty.

  • kingderella

    yea fo’ sho’!

  • ringthing

    I don’t know. That D&G dress is very Zena, Warrior Princess, and Stella McCartney just needs to be stopped, but lots of these looks are going to be very entertaining viewed on the red carpet. So for that alone, yea.

  • shopgirl716

    Love them!!!  Yes, yes, yes

  • Daenyx

    Nay, oh so very nay.  It all looks tortured and overdone to me.  

  • jw_ny


    Gaudy and costumey for the most part.  Most of the models don’t even look good wearing them.

  • I can’t wear it, but I like looking at other people wearing it, so YAY

  • lesmaha

    nay. heavy. too much.

  • judybrowni

    Versailles couch covers.

  • serenitynow02

    A little of this goes a long way. I couldn’t bear an entire red carpet full of it.

  • JasmineAM

    LOVE them all!

  • greatscoutm


  • BigWhiteGrannyPanties

    Yes yes yes yes yes.

  • funkypeanut

    Who knew that there were that many old unused doilies in the world? The only ones that I like are the D&G because they’re reminiscent of imperial Russian opulence. I like the bold colors of AR, but not the cut. Likewise, the fabric Giles has is interesting, but the clothes are terrible. Stella, Stella, Stella, honey, that looks chip in a chip way. Where did you find royal blue double-knit polyester in 2012?

    I’ll have to go with nay on these clothes because, although I like the idea, the results are disappointing.

  • quiltrx

    YEA!  I love ornate patterns in pretty much anything (jewelry, architecture, clothing, etc).  I like it best when it’s tone-on-tone (I guess that’s the quilter in me) so it doesn’t edge over into garish. 

    That being said, I like everything above except the Dolce & Gabbana row.  Not big on gold on dark colors anyway, and it’s just a bit too much for my taste.

  • DCSheehan

    I’m getting a 1980s vibe here, lots going on and lots of skin covered up. I say yes but only because that green coat and pants is sublime.

  • Miranda Loeber

    The rococo era has always been one of my favorites, so I am loving the crazy ornate shit walking the runways. Because when you have that much money at your disposal why NOT pile more beauty on top of even more beauty? I especially love Mary Katrantzou’s stuff.

  • minnye

    LOVE the rightmost Mary K.!

  • Yes! I don’t have much day-to-day use for it, but it’s so pretty, I say yes.

  • j_anson

    Oh yeah. Not that I could wear just about any of it, but it’s beautiful.

  • girliecue

    Yea, verily!

  • Glammie

    I’m not opposed to this in theory, but, wow, I don’t like any of these–too much like being swathed in upholstery.

  • Laylalola

    What’s terrifying is how many of these pieces make the stick-thin models look boxy, dumpy, and wide — 

  • AC

    Nay. Ick.

  • ZnSD

    Uh, looks like somebody was in love with McQueen’s runway show…last year.

  • Yes, yes, yes.

  • ccm800


  • Yay – it’s an interesting look that we haven’t seen for a while. I especially love that fawn colored Valentino look at the top.

  • YEA.  I’m Italian, I like ornate.

  • Scarlet39

    Mary Katrantzou is probably my faorite, followed by Balmain.  I’ve always been attracted to ornate looks like these.  I’m now kicking myself for passing by Baroque items from the 80s that I’ve seen in thrift and consignment stores in NYC.   I’ve admired the pieces but never thought i’d actually wear them!

  • Overall, me likey very much. I don’t usually care for Stella McCartney, but I do like these, especially the dress. The Mary Katranzou is maybe a bit much and the Giles stuff doesn’t do it for me, either. J’adore the Balmain jacket, though. Want. Also the short gold Marchesa dress with the feathers. Now if I only had someplace to wear such a thing….

  • jjfg

    Not a granny panty in sight.  I’ll take it!  (Not that I’d WEAR anything like this, but it’s nice to look at.)

  • Love it love it love it, I’d wear much of this.  How can you refuse a dress with unicorns on it?

  • Yea ! I wish I had a reason (and the money) to wear some of these ! Baroque is beautiful !

  • MoreShoes

    I love the Balmain dress but more as an art object, not to wear it.

  • mjude

    YEA.  i think its really pretty

  • TheLaurenJean

    I really only like the Balmain pants and Marchesa’s dresses, which does in fact shock me. But the rest I would say nay.

  • fashionzombie

    My eyeballs feel seared. Can’t…vote…yet…

  • R L

    I. Love. It. 

    Yea forever.

  • Love the Aquilano.Rimondi coat in the middle, that actually might work IRL, but not with the too-matchy pants, I’m 5 foot 2 so the rest of it is way too busy/too large proportioned for me.  You definitely need to be over 5 foot 8 and weigh around 100 pounds to pull this much ‘busyness’ off.

  • raininmai

    I think that Aquilano.Rimondi has made the best use of the style. The looks are fabulous.

  • VicksieDo

    YEA!  Love Love Love it!

    • VicksieDo


  • Sunshine16

    Yea!  As long as it’s separates that look like the Balmain or Mary Katrantzou.  Love!

  • The Marchesa ones are beautiful.  The rest are kinda fug (and though not ornate, wtf is up with those Stella McCartney pants?).

  • lilazander

    Yea… But the Valentino look is awful, I also hate Stella McCartney, the colours just don’t work. Balmain and Karatzou are my faves.

  • lilazander

    Diane Kruger sported something like the D&G first look, except it was not D&G, sorry forgot…

  • Love those Balmain pants – and the short Stella McCartney dress.

  • Susan Crawford

    YEA! This is what I look for in haute couture – fantasy, intricacy, gorgeous details and evidence of hours, weeks, and even months of handwork by brilliant artists. We all need a dream in these dark and stressful times, no?

  • Warmheartedgirl Seattle

    Hell Yea!  I love the Balmain most especially.  Gorgeous needlework all around!

  • Monabel


  • OMG.  YEA!  I want that top blue and black dress so bad it hurts.

  • KathKo

    Me not wanting to look like an old sofa’s upholstery.

  • aristida_girl

    Yea for the understated pieces, less so for the really ornate ones, but overall I think this is a fun trend for the right girl

  • Jameela AbdulGhani

    Yes, as a person who did the ornate, I was waiting for this.

  • Renaissance_Man_ATL

    Yea, but a little goes a long way.

  • LordZoe

    Best puns ever tlo!

  • Only ones I like are the Aquilano Rimondi’s, and the middle Marchesa. Someone questioned why Stella McCartney is still designing… and I always tend to think that about her and Jil Sander. Fairly certain I have never enjoyed a Jil Sander look.

  • guest2visits

    So beautiful. I can’t imagine what these fabrics cost. Wonder which country is manufacturing the bulk of this kind of material.