Red has taken a very dark turn for fall.
The eggplants, jewel tones, maroons and mauves that always make their way into stores at this time of year now have some serious competition from their deeper, darker cousin: oxblood, an extreme burgundy that borders on brown.
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"Bright red is 'Look at me,' while oxblood is a little more sophisticated," said fashion commentator and celebrity stylist Robert Verdi. "It's confident and strong."
Making the shade even more sophisticated? The hottest oxblood pieces are made of luxe materials, playing into the "rich and regal" mood of the season in general, said Brooke Jaffe, fashion accessories director at Bloomingdale's, where oxblood leather jackets, suede ankle booties and structured leather bags are all the rage.
Meanwhile, at Scoop NYC -- which has stores in Greenvale and East Hampton -- customers are loving a Diane von Furstenberg lace peplum dress, a Scoop fur-and-knit circle scarf, an Iro Shena tweed jacket and Stuart Weitzman patent-leather pumps -- all in oxblood.
"The women who wear these pieces are confident and sexy," said Heidi Hoelzer, vice president of women's at Scoop.
Some designers also are taking the color into evening, including Lela Rose, who showcased gorgeous cocktail dresses in her fall collection. "Many people like to play it safe with color and stick with black when it comes for eveningwear," Rose said. "Oxblood offers a great rich color but isn't too bold."
Pair it wisely
If you're only looking to dip a toe in the oxblood pool, pair an oxblood blouse, sweater or jacket with dark-denim, black or charcoal bottoms -- or vice versa. "Oxblood looks chic with black, and is a no-brainer with dark washes of denim," said Brooke Jaffe of Bloomingdale's.
Or go for contrast. Get a modern edge by pairing the hue with unexpected color mates, including petrol, pumpkin, jade, amber, gold and even neon. "Jewel tones and metallics bring out the color," said designer Lela Rose.
Top designers from Diane von Furstenberg to Peter Som showed head-to-toe oxblood on their fall 2012 runways, and you can go monochromatic, too. Just make sure to mix fabrics and textures, like a leather skirt with a knit top, said Robert Verdi, to provide subtle contrast.
Or choose oxblood accessories. "The oxblood bootie is my No. 1 for the season, especially to be paired with classic skinny denim on the weekends," said Jaffe. "I also love structured bags . . . they work well with everything." An oxblood belt also can provide pop to a lighter-hued dress or jacket.