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Welcome to the neon jungle

  • Highlighter hues are among Spring/Summer 2019’s biggest trends, with designers like Prabal Gurung, Naeem Khan, Marc Jacobs and others incorporating the colours in their designs
  • The key to wearing neon hues well is to pair them with understated shades, or take the accessories route

Earlier this month, Alia Bhatt attended the premiere of her new film, Gully Boy, at the Berlin International Film Festival wearing a gown by Nepali-American designer Prabal Gurung. The silk faille column gown with a long hand-draped train made for an elegant silhouette, but it was really the colour that caught attention—an invigorating shade of neon green.

Bhatt isn’t the only one adding neon green to her looks—models Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin and American actor Blake Lively are giving her company. Neon green leads the charge on behalf of an array of intense highlighter hues—named after the highlighter pens they resemble—that dominate Spring/Summer 2019 (SS19) trends. Choose from eye-popping fuchsias, blood orange, electric blues and bright aubergine. While Gurung combined a wide palette of neon shades with tie-dye (another big seasonal trend) for his vacation-ready collection, American designer Brandon Maxwell went for elegant silhouettes in single head-to-toe colour. Veteran labels Carolina Herrera and Marc Jacobs too dabbled in highlighter hues. Herrera’s creative director combined bright colours with whites and subdued colours, and Jacobs paired statement ruffled neon separates with equally dazzling metallics. The colour parade arrived during couture shows too—Maison Valentino’s exquisite couture designs for Spring/Summer abound in look-at-me colours.

Closer home, Schulen Fernandes, creative director of Wendell Rodricks, splashed her SS19 collection with pop colours in a vibrant new direction for the label.

Making neon work

Here’s the thing about neon: once you move past sneakers and athleisure, it’s not a trend that everyone can master effortlessly. If the little black dress is an outfit for everyone, a neon ensemble is the domain of a few who can handle the attention the colours can command. A smart way to wear neon—for the faint-hearted—is to mix it with understated colours: try pairing a neon colour with black and white or pastels to add a bright spot on the ensemble. Try a neon shirt or tee beneath a black or navy suit, or a pop-coloured jacket over a muted dress or separates. You can also pair a neon hue with a pastel shade in the same colour.

For a even quieter approach to the trend, take the accessories route. From Comme des Garçons’ colour-blocked pouches to towering heels by Alice + Olivia, there are plenty of designs to choose from. Sunglasses with colourful frames, neon-hued jewellery or Off-White by Virgil Abloh’s transparent belt with neon typography are subtler takes on the trend.

The thing to remember is this—like the stationery pens that inspire these colours, highlighter hues are meant to draw the eye. The best sartorial tactic to ace this trend is to own your colourful side. 

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