Black Lace

As we delve deeper into the folds of our autumnal wardrobes (or attempt to, as it has been unconventionally hot here in LA), we find ourselves entranced by so many of season's standout materials. But while the usual suspects like faux fur and shearling are getting lots of love this fall, we've also got our eyes on a dark horse in the race: black lace. This naughty noir fabric is no blink-and-you-miss it material; in fact, there was an abundance of inky lace on the F/W 10 runways in the form of peek-a-boo shirts, dresses, and skirts. And while we realize that such a sheer fabric might seem difficult to wear, our newest installment of Runway to Real Way will prove just how versatile black lace can be!

To contextualize this look, let's first turn to the runway for information and inspiration. Perhaps the most well-known examples come from Dolce & Gabbana and Christopher Kane, where our material du jour was given a feminine spin. At the former, this premiere fabric was manipulated into long-sleeve tops and pencil skirts, in addition to the featured look of a full-skirted dress. We appreciate how les seigneurs Domenico & Stefano riffed on fall's ladylike trend, yet infused it with their personal soignée by carving out classic silhouettes in this sheer and dangerously sexy fabric. A similar sartorial theory was also courted across the pond at Christopher Kane's fall show. Here, the designer paired his Plonge Lace Blouse ($1,148) with a lace and floral pencil skirt, and then toughened up the look with Patent Lace Up Open Toe Boots ($1305). The overall shape of the outfit is quite conservative, yet its demure nature is intriguingly juxtaposed by the use of semi-see-though black lace. Additionally, the floral pattern-a motif that ran through the entire collection of embroidered jumpers and schoolgirl-inspired pleated skirts-infuses the look with a touch of whimsy that contrasts nicely with the fashion-forward nature of the gladiator footwear.

Yet femme fatale-meets-girly girl is not the only black-lace option that is hitting a high note this fashion season. Consider, for example, Alexander Wang's current offerings. The master of American street-chic almost single-handedly made velvet, chenille, and black lace directional by presenting it in new and edgy cuts and combinations, like our featured look which consists of the Lace Shirt with Felt Collar and Cuffs ($515) under a Velvet Jacket with Cape Back ($650), all paired with Leather Shorts ($450) and Merino Wool Leg Warmers ($185). We love how Wang upped the textural ante by pouring a trio of luxe materials into a singular look, and while this medley might be an extreme way to try racy lace, it does underscore an important styling point. When opting for black lace, contrast works best, particularly when paired with more utilitarian, unfussy elements.

Finally, Charlotte Ronson also embraced an edgier, albeit decidedly more bohemian vibe when she mixed silks, velvets, and brocades with today's featured trend. She paired her black lace runway-only skirt with a Jacquard Tank ($215, 212.625.9074), Draped Wrap Jacket ($325, 212.625.9074), and Mariela Over-the-Knee Chain Boots ($350). The result is a softer, more romantic gypset look compared to Wang's urban warrior, yet both executions retain an insouciant sartorial energy we love.

While the fall runways provided endless inspiration on this up-and-coming trend, we look to Coco Rocha-one of our favorite former MODs-to shed more light on how to flawlessly incorporate black lace into your existing wardrobe. The leggy newlywed/model/blogger routinely reaches for un-basic black ensembles, so when we spotted her at BCBGMaxazria's S/S 11 show in the brand's Lace Jumpsuit ($248) and a pair of Joe Fresh Neon Pumps ($24), we were hardly surprised by her personal panache. We like how the jumpsuit has a utilitarian bottom half, complete with a drawstring and pockets, which provides a sleek contrast to the ladylike, diaphanous top. Additionally, we appreciate how Rocha finalized the outfit with a shot of electric pink-via thrillingly inexpensive pumps-for a festive and exciting cocktail look.

Staying on key in today's trend is surprisingly easy; all you need are a few pieces to mix in with your other tailored items. Our favorite way to get a taste of lace is to take a note from our model muse and opt for a lacy top to add intrigue to a streamlined skirt or pants. We like BCBG's Lace-Contrast Top ($78) for a softer, feminine version-it would pair well with fall's many black velvet separates-and look to our go-to button-up brand, Equipment, for a version that's more equipped for conservative basics. Their Lace Crescendo Blouse ($188) is spot-on for wearing under a suit to take your outfit from the office to the office partaaay; just lose the jacket and grab a sparkly clutch!

Next, if you're feeling a bit more adventurous, you can try a little lace in the form of a dress or skirt. To channel Charlotte Ronson's peripatetic stylesetter, we'd recommend the Lace Maxi Dress ($298) from Daughters of the Revolution or Forever 21's Lace Maxi Skirt ($19.80). Accent either pick with hiking-inspired booties and a denim jacket for an MOD-worthy lacy look we could easily see on the effortlessly cool Lily Donaldson. Finally, to satiate your ladylike craving, get your gloved hands on Topshop's Peter Pan Swing Lace Dress ($100) or Robert Rodriguez's Peek Thru Lace Skirt ($286). For the latter, take a note from the Dolce & Gabbana runway show and pair it with a fitted tweed blazer and patent Mary Janes for a femme-fatale ensemble that will kill it every time!-Liza Kaplan

EXPLORE: Beauty, Charlotte Ronson, Coco Rocha, Lily Donaldson, Alexander Wang, Christopher Kane
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