Season by season, we have seen the barely-there sheer fabrics dominate our wardrobes. The challenge, however, persists to make the outfit look polished rather than perverse, whether it’s by the means of a well-placed chiffon top or a sheer summer dress. This season, the strong marriage between two mainstream trends has given birth to the mesh fabric trend for spring 2012, also known as the perforated, modern cutout or open weaved trend.

Mesh can either be adapted as an alternative way to carry the sheer trend or be churned out of the sporty look for the season. This trend is more about the fabric than a particular outfit seen on the runway, for obvious reasons of course, but there’re more to it than you imagined. Continue reading after the jump to see how this fabric can act as a chameleon in your wardrobe for spring 2012.

And of course, if you’d like to keep up to date with all of the latest fashion trends and inspiration on how to wear them, remember to subscribe to Fashionising.com’s RSS feed or Facebook page.

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Mesh clothing trend: what is it

Mesh is best described as semi-perforated, somewhat sheer variety of fabric. Traditionally, it’s seen in sports jerseys, primarily due to its breathable, lightweight and comfort aspect. But of course, the fashion industry’s inspiration boundaries expand with every season.

The juxtaposition between American sportswear and mesh’s feminine silhouette for this season is worth noting, especially when the fabric has surrendered itself to high-end fashion designers. The fabric seems sporty, but when teamed with black lace and overlapped on silk, you’re most likely to shove sports bra and lycra aside. Its wearibility radar hits the ceiling when a mesh-detailed gown clashes with velvet and lace on the red carpet.

Acting as a distant cousin is the cutaway fashion trend that has had excellent attendance in the seasons gone by, but now its obvious elements have been altered. The missing panels of fabric are now veiled with netting, perforated leather, mesh or intricate lacing, promoting the look to a modern version of the sheer trend, but keeping it close to the ‘cutaway’ trend.

Mesh fabric: who is using it?

When animal prints and metallic crop tops are involved, athletic chic isn’t what exactly comes to mind. House of Holland’s spring / summer 2012 collection presents mesh in a wilder character with aplenty va-va-voom on the cards.

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Sport mesh at House of Holland, S/S ’12

Nichole Farhi and Cynthia Rowley also went for wide-gapped perforations on sturdy fabrics, with feminine full skirts or tunics given a tough and sporty update.

perforated leather dress
Perforation at Cynthia Rowley, S/S ’12

Lacy bandeaus and strategically beaded leotards are on Roberto Cavalli’s design memo for this spring / summer, while Emilio Pucci also flutters on an abiding path of appliqué sheerness. Despite the lack of pure mesh as a fabric in the spring 2012 collections of both the aforementioned houses, the subtle hints of skin through careful cutouts, beading and intertwining makes them an influential variety for this trend.

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Meshed lace at Pucci, S/S ’12

All the pastel-hued sheer outfits in Bora Aksu’s show were contrasted with fishnet stockings, giving a romantic meets rocker feel to the collection. The outfits themselves presented layers of sheer and netted fabrics creating meshed finishes.

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Mesh and fishnet at Bora Aksu, S/S ’12

The laser-cut mesh in Alexander Wang’s spring 2012 collection evidently reveals the underneath layers of nylon and lycra, yet giving a contemporary meaning to athletic chic. The fabrics used have an authorisation over the silhouette in Wang’s collection. He also presents a clever example of mixing two or more spring 2012 fashion trends: layering, androgyny and mesh, all in the same silhouette.

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Laser cut perforated leather and mesh at Alexander Wang, S/S ’12

Key elements to look out for

The most important thing to remember when styling a mesh piece is to be able to differentiate between when to wear it to the gym and how to wear it on the streets. Below are some of the key elements you’ll need to look out for when shopping for anything with ‘mesh’ in it.

  • Pick items of clothing where mesh and perforated fabrics are used in the most unconventional spots. Say, on the side of a dress or as a panel going across the chest.
  • Don’t wear a full mesh jacket or kaftan over a simple sports bra. That’s a very obvious approach towards the trend; mix it with a luxe, metallic or embellished crop-top.
  • Don’t be afraid to team a mesh item with formal attire, such as a crisp blazer or high-waisted pants.
  • Mesh isn’t only a great for outdoor summer festivals; it’ll also be a super option to wear to the Wimbledon matches, or even the upcoming Olympics. If you’re a fortunate one who’s heading for either, load your wardrobe with mesh-laden outfits.
  • If you’re opting for a sophisticated variety of sheer cutouts, steer towards Givenchy’s direction where leather, lace, organza and perforated fabrics are involved. Remember, the mesh-like pattern can be created on any fabric.
  • Remember that it’s all about the open weave – so even if you’re wearing mesh shoes or gloves, you’re in the running for this spring 2012.
  • Don’t go for the noticeable cutouts around the waist and upper back; pick outfits where cutouts have been targeted with a futuristic angle. Think underarm cuts, lower back cuts or even an abstract cut around the thighs.

For more inspiration on mesh fabric and perforated leather as a trend in spring 2012, visit the gallery above for more runway examples.

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