Clean and Easy Denim

Of all the many wise sayings attributed to Coco Chanel, the following is one of our favourites: "Fashion is architecture: it's a matter of proportions." While the French designer was probably referring to the pret-a-porter and haute couture confections she created, the sentiment is also perfectly applicable to the current trend in denim separates. To take her words literally, we can't help but notice the similarities between California's modern architectural masterpieces and the way designers are using denim to create pieces with clean, minimalist lines. Even the fabric itself--which has been distressed, lacerated, and bleached for the past two decades--is enjoying a return to a purer form. This trend calls for mid-blue, natural-looking denim in boxy silhouettes--exemplified by Stella McCartney's tunic dress and Alexa Chung's romper--which give the simplistic designs both form and structure. The result is understated, effortless, and decidedly stylish, hence today's Trend Report!

&promoTypeThese clean and easy denim pieces turned up on a number of S/S 11 runways, but we were particularly intrigued by the way two certain designers interpreted this trend. Since we're talking about an uncomplicated, fluid look, it's only fitting that our first source of catwalk inspiration comes from Celine, where Phoebe Philo reigns as the de facto queen of streamlined dressing. In the featured ensemble above, Philo constructed a denim-on-denim look with a monochromatic colour palette of mid-blue hues and unadorned separates in classic silhouettes, specifically The Denim Shirt ($690, 800.558.1855) and Denim Pants ($890, 800.558.1855). Though the overall look has a relaxed vibe, the sleek cut keeps it feeling chic and sophisticated. Celine wasn't the only major fashion house showcasing this trend; Derek Lam also presented us with a number ways to style clean and easy denim. Snapped backstage, three models presented us with a trio of ideas. While Jac (center) sported a decidedly traditional all-denim look via a Chambray Denim Sleeveless Top (price upon request, 212.966.1616) and Bright Indigo Linen Twill Trousers (price upon request, 212.966.1616), Freja Beha's (left) Indigo Stretch Denim Utility Jacket (price upon request, 212.966.1616) and Indigo Denim A-line Skirt ($550, 212. 966. 1616), as well as Mirte Moss' (right) Indigo Stretch Denim Trench Coat ($1450) are a bit more unexpected. While you don't typically expect to find a denim trench or skirt suit, the resulting looks are certainly chic, stylish, and subtly infused with a hint of the '70s.

Off the runways, several trendsetters have been experimenting with this look and their interpretations of the trend are certainly worth noting! We especially love the way both Stella McCartney and Kate Bosworth chose to sport their clean and easy denim--via simple dresses. McCartney stepped out in London earlier this month in head-to-toe designs from her S/S 11 collection, including the Textured Denim Tunic Dress ($725), which she accessorized with the Buckled Faux-Leather Sandals ($795) and the Alexa Woven Faux-Leather Shoulder Bag ($1595). The boxy cut of the sparse and unembellished smock dress gives it some structure, making it an effortlessly chic alternative to summer's floral frocks. We're also smitten with Bosworth's slightly more detailed iteration, a Mulberry F/W 10 dress she wore out in London in February. Though the frock features two rows of gold buttons and a subtly pleated skirt, the drop-waist silhouette keeps it from feeling too fitted and fussy.

While we love McCartney and Bosworth's denim frocks, this isn't the only way to try out the trend. If you're in a playful mood, try donning a denim one-piece a la Alexa Chung. Snapped in Paris earlier this month, Chung went for a relaxed look in a Stella McCartney Denim Playsuit ($825). We appreciate the way she contrasted the romper's simplistic design with an oversized Margaret Howell button-down shirt and leopard-print bag by Russell and Bromley. We're also smitten with a photo of Hanneli Mustaparta on Streetpeeper, which shows her in sleek, vintage denim overalls. Admittedly, slim overalls aren't the easiest look to pull off, but if you opt for a mid-blue pair with a relatively narrow cut, you'll achieve the desired minimalistic vibe.

Now that you're familiar with all the different ways to execute this trend, it's time to try out this look for yourself! We've rounded up some of the best clean and easy denim available right now--and they're all just a click away! First, if you're craving a timeless frock a la McCartney, we suggest picking up either Of Two Minds' Denim Scout Dress ($284) or Juicy Couture's Denim Shirtdress ($200). Prefer Bosworth's slightly more detailed dress? Gap's Denim Shift Dress ($70) and Rebecca Taylor's Quilted Denim Dress ($325) both have interesting accents but will still help you maintain an understated look. For those of you who admire Chung's short playsuit, we recommend either Forever 21's Chambray Sweetheart Romper ($25) or Gap's Denim Romper ($70). Both options are perfect if you need an outfit that you can throw on and head out the door quickly. Perhaps you're in the market for a pair of overalls? In that case, we approve of Mango's Jamie One-Piece Suit ($120), which is a sophisticated take on the childhood staple.

In addition to the aforementioned pieces, we also found a number of other alternatives for your shopping pleasure. For those of you in the market for some outerwear, we especially like Burberry Brit's Denim Trenchcoat ($486), which looks quite similar to Derek Lam's version, but at a fraction of the cost! We also love a great pair of denim trousers and think that either Genetic Denim's The Burke Trouser Jean ($220) or Level 99's High Waist Chambray Trousers ($118) would look great paired with NM Exclusive's Belted Blouse ($70). The resulting ensemble will give you a stylish look inspired by the Celine runway--and who doesn't want to look like they have just stepped off the catwalk?--Erin Fitzpatrick

Photos of Kate Bosworth and Alexa Chung, courtesy of Bauer Griffin; Photo of Stella McCartney, courtesy of Splash; Street style photo, courtesy of Street Peeper; Celine runway photo, courtesy of PR Consulting; Derek Lam backstage photo, courtesy of First View.