Neon Nights

There's something about warm weather that makes people get a little frisky with their fashion choicesÂ--a sentiment that's particularly true on the red carpet right now! But rather than going for edgy silhouettes or barely-there dresses, tastemakers like Gwyneth Paltrow, Diane Kruger, and Kirsten Dunst are turning up the sartorial heat by opting for formal gowns in a slew of fluorescent hues.

Now, we know that neon is not new, of course, but the idea of day-glo colors for eveningwear certainly does feel fresh. This spring we were delighted to see Oscar de la Renta's extraordinary collection of silk gowns in the most vibrant shades of fuchsia, violet, and orange, wowed by Matthew Williamson's electric yellow cocktail frocks paired with black and gray ankle boots, and stunned by Valentino's glamorous gowns in such eighties shades. The contrast of the formality of the silhouettes with the in-your-face punk colors is refreshing to say the least, so we were truly pleased to note that the trend was catching on with the fashionable crowd.

Of all the many wonderful celebrity references we've seenÂ--like Sarah Jessica Parker's many neon nightsÂ--Dree Hemingway is definitely one of our favorite examples. Late last month, the model attended the amfAR Cinema Against AIDS Gala in Cannes wearing head-to-toe Valentino Haute Couture from the S/S 10 collection in a most modern way. We adore the way acid-yellow is really used as an accent to the frock's primary color palette of nude and blush; the contrast is so lovely, it definitely inspires us to create a similar combination for our next girls' night out. Another excellent reference point comes from Gwyneth Paltrow, who also opted for a shorter silhouette for the National Movie Awards in London. The actress eschewed the sober shades she usually wears for such events in favor of an electric pink Prada dress from F/W 10 and matching neon heels.

Of course, we also wanted to give you a little inspiration for some more formal optionsÂ--just in case you have a black-tie event on the horizonÂ--so we simply had to include the gowns Diane Kruger and Kirsten Dunst chose for the closing ceremonies of the 63rd annual Cannes Film Festival. Could Kruger have looked any more chic in her custom-made fuchsia chiffon and black lace Jason Wu gown? (Nope. Wu-ger wins again!) And how stunning does Ms. Dunst look in a hot-off-the runway turquoise column from Chanel's most recent resort collection worn with nude Jimmy Choo Emerald Heels? (Very!)

We hope you love these electric ladylike looks as much as we do and that you keep them in mind for all your summer events. Bear in mind that you don't need a haute couture budget to get the best neon-night lookÂ--we found loads of affordably priced bright pieces for your shopping pleasure. For an evening on the town with your best pals, we suggest Preen Line's Anchor Cutout Lace Dress ($680) because it has an eye-popping color and sexy body-con shape. If that is too much color for you, check out the similarly form-fitting Color Block Cut Out Dress ($169) by Aqua; it is mostly cream colored, save for a single neon orange accent. For your next cocktail party, try a cool blue hue like Tibi's Strapless Silk-Georgette Dress ($345) or a bright tangerine like Milly Balconette's Combo Dress $368) and you will be an instant crowd pleaser. Of course, dresses aren't the only way to add a fluorescent glow to your evening wardrobe. Liven up your ensembles with vibrant footwear like Schutz's Patent Peep-Toe Pump ($190) in neon lime or accessorize a neutral outfit with Jimmy Choo's Candy Clutch ($495) in pink or petrol.

Photos of Kirsten Dunst and Diane Kruger, courtesy of INF; Photo of Dree Hemingway, courtesy of Bauer Griffin; Photo of Gwyneth Paltrow, courtesy of Splash
EXPLORE: Beauty, Diane Kruger, Dree Hemingway, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kirsten Dunst, Chanel, Jason Wu, Prada, Valentino


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