SOCIAL STYLES: The Dapper Mr. Downing

Elysze Held sits down with Ken Downing at Neiman Marcus Merrick Park

In South Florida, the name Elysze Held is synonymous with style. As founder and president of the Miami fashion/image consulting firm, Style Out of the City, Elysze is the personal stylist to WSVN 7/Deco Drive’s hosts, Lynn Martinez & Louis Aguirre and has dressed CEO’s, models, super-models, celebrities, socialites & fashionistas! Elysze frequently commutes to New York, is a field producer for Mercedes Benz New York Fashion week, and styles national advertising campaigns. With her stylist’s eye, she lets us know WHO WORE WHAT to WHERE!

Honest. Authentic. Credible. Ken Downing is a veteran of the fashion industry for more than 30 years.

Ken Downing

When Downing speaks…women listen. He is the face and voice of Neiman Marcus, the concierge of all things style for the 72 store company. He pens and publishes a seasonal trend list that evolves from his keen sense of what is new and what is next in fashion.

Although he shapes the fashion course of the company, Downing’s job does not stop at the runway. He works like a fashion editor – garnering trends from the meticulous notes he takes from fashion shows and then sifting those notes down to the pieces and collections he feels should be featured by the company.

With his trained eye, he picks and chooses what he loves. But unlike a fashion editor at one of the leading publications, Downing does not merely have to feature the pieces or collections – he has to sell them. And he never loses sight of what is right for his discerning clients – the Neiman Marcus customer.

Downing is a beloved staple on the fashion circuit – he returns from the shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris back to Dallas where he is based and translates the ‘fashion-speak’ to language accessible to the brand’s everyday customer. His gift is in his talent, his eye, yes – but also in his ability to communicate.

Women want to know: Is there really any “new news” in the fashion world?

“Yes!” he said. “Ultimately, every woman has two arms and two legs, a head and torso. Nothing has changed there. That’s why we must look to the past to look to the future. You can bring the waistline up, you can bring the waistline down, but you are still working with the same canvas. You have to know where fashion has been to know where it is going. It’s the modernity of textiles, the spirit of styling and new color combinations that move fashion forward.”

Heading his list for Resort and Spring 2013 is color. Color always leads our fashion message because it gives immediate trend credibility to a wardrobe.

“The fashion enthusiasts in Florida embrace color, and understand the sensuality of their warm weather climate,” he said.

For Resort and Spring 2013, he loves orange for both day and night — not a tangerine, but a “traffic cone orange”, a crisp white and a bright orange, as seen on the Jill Sander Runway.

Next on his list of trends: warm-weather leather-a lightweight versatile staple. They say that cotton is the fabric of our lives? Not so, Downing says.

“Leather is the fabric of our lives!”

I remember seeing the dapper Mr. Downing at the Marc Jacobs Spring 2013 show. I thought the entire show featured stripes and only stripes – wide stripes, vertical stripes, horizontal stripes, big wide cabana stripes, thin stripes as in mattress ticking. I was dizzy when I left.

But what did Downing see? The very few but very chic pieces in the collection with leopard spots! And lo and behold, on the rack of his picks for his runway presentations this week, a few ‘leopard spot’ pieces that will surely be embraced by the Miami lover of all things fashion and scooped up off the racks at Merrick Park.

Ken’s Trend Picks for Spring 2013?

  • Amazing Lace
  • Face framing jewelry
  • Cool Blues
  • Relaxed Chic
  • Warm Weather leather
  • Orange-the new neutral
  • Print Mania
  • High Voltage Handbags
  • Gladiators

Experience the dapper Mr. Downing at Neiman Marcus Merrick Park, and get firsthand his picks for the season- Friday, January 25th Runway presentation at noon.

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