For several seasons, the gaze of the fashion industry has been firmly turned toward the past. For spring/summer 2017 we saw the return of 1980s glamour at Saint Laurent, 40s elegance at Bottega Veneta and 70s suiting at Gucci. But for autumn/winter 2017/18, the only direction worth thinking about is forwards. Designers looked to the future, musing on what is yet to come via everything from lashings of metallics and references to the world of space travel to vast explosions of dresses that challenged perceptions of femininity. What resulted was an air of excitement and high drama.
Comme des Garçons
At the Comme des Garçons autumn/winter 2017/18 catwalk show, designer Rei Kawakubo looked to ‘the future of the silhouette’ with a range of vast, voluminous dresses in materials that evoked everything from brown paper bags to multicoloured insulation and silver disco balls. Fabric enveloped the models and appeared to distance the garment from the body beneath it, which was merely a canvas for these unique works of art. Two of the most showstopping looks were a leather and foam gown that combined ruffles and patchwork details and an all-white belted dress covered with octopus-style suckers. Practical these are not, but what they lack in wearability they make up for in sheer genius. It’s no wonder that Kawakubo was honoured with an exhibition at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art this year, entitled Art of the In-Between. Showcasing around 140 of the designer’s indefinable looks, it was the perfect celebration of four decades spent challenging both the fashion industry and traditional concepts of beauty. With such a boundary-pushing career, it’s no wonder that Kawakubo continues to look to the future with her latest collection.
Karl Lagerfeld is another designer who is drawn to a vision of the world that’s just around the corner. ‘Fashion is about the evolution of the world,’ said the Chanel creative director in a video about the autumn/winter collection 2017/18 for the brand’s YouTube channel, though perhaps in this case it’s more accurate to say that fashion is about the evolution of the universe. During the sci-fi-inspired Chanel show at the Grand Palais, Lagerfeld presented his vision of space travel and his perfect wardrobe for the intergalactic traveller. Offering silver leather and shearling biker jackets paired with glittering knee-high boots, accessories in the form of holographic blanket-style wraps and embellished fingerless gloves, and T-shirts, dresses and separates adorned with an astronaut print, the collection is truly out of this world.
Elsewhere, references are more subtle: a spray of embellishment on a midi-length sleeveless dress evokes the galaxies within our solar system as seen through a telescope; a high, wide collar on a minidress echoes the shape of a spacesuit. Handbags shaped like mini planets and rockets provide the perfect ethereal touch to these astronomical looks. Closing the show with a shuttle that appeared to lift off to a soundtrack of Rocket Man by Elton John, Lagerfeld – as he has done so many times before – set the tone for the new season. Astronauts have conquered the moon and spacecraft have landed on Mars, so surely it can’t be long before an army of silver-clad sirens fly spaceship Chanel into the heavens.
Mugler’s Alien fragrance has legions of fans across the globe, so the label is no stranger to the extra-terrestrial. This season, designer David Koma’s sharply cut minidresses and exuberant use of high-shine fabrics in silver and lizard green would certainly look the part in a galaxy far, far away. Black leather trench coats with pointed shoulders and sheer tops studded with stars are perfect for space goths, while lightning bolts slice sections out of tops and embellished jumpsuits for those who prefer a little colour in their evening attire. A yellow top with cut-out side panels and a star brooch is pure Star Trek chic: the perfect homage to the TV show, which returns to our screens this autumn.
Paco Rabanne presented an altogether more fluid vision of futuristic fashion at Paris Fashion Week, with draped one-shoulder tops and asymmetric midi-skirts in silver and gold chainmail-style fabrics, worn with shiny silver brogues. Grey strapless minidresses worn over trousers gave the feel of a next-generation space uniform, and shimmering trousers paired with thin, long-sleeved knits had a touch of the sport-luxe about them. Armour-like dresses that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the next sci-fi summer blockbuster rounded out a truly inspired collection.
To live your own galactic fantasy this autumn/winter season, look no further than the catwalk collections of some of fashion’s most imaginative brands.