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Runway Alert: Embellished Denim

Jeans may be a commodity item, but high-end designers have a whole other vision for denim.

As denim becomes a regular fixture in collections, designers are investing more time and research into the fabric and as a result, elevating denim with couture-level details and tailoring techniques that rival fine fabrics.

In Balmain designer Oliver Rousteing’s Spring ’19 homage to Michael Jackson and French style, the designer strung crystals from the feather-like threads of distressed jean jackets. Other denim pieces like jeans and a moto jacket were shredded with artistic precision, creating a painterly effect.

Chanel—a luxury brand whose intrigue with jeanswear has spanned Western rodeo to ’80s glam in recent seasons—decorated double denim with Egyptian hieroglyph patchwork cut from denim.

Sacai designer Chitose Abe’s experimental approach to design bodes well for denim. The designer presented relaxed fit jean jackets with panels of sporty satin in her Spring ’19 luxe athleisure collection.

And denim is proving to be a good fit for newcomers that toe the line between luxury and streetwear. Pronounce designer Jun Zhou played with fancy weaves and denim with frayed panels in a spring collection inspired by India.

Meanwhile Kenneth Nicholson tested gender norms with uniform-inspired silhouettes trimmed with white curtain lace. The flourish snaked around collars, pockets and the hems of sleeves on styles that references royal fashion.

Expect to see more designer handiwork applied to denim as the category settles into a fashion cycle.