Tweed not twee
Tweed has always had its place on the autumn winter catwalks – especially with a certain French fashion house – but this year saw unlikely contenders taking up the mantle for the heritage fabric. Brands such as Acne Studios (better known for its ultra-cool minimalist approach) and Erdem (famed for florals) reworked tweed in a modern manner. Haider Ackermann subverted tweed’s prim image in a black and white palette with distinctly rocker vibes.
Capes have been going strong for several years now, which in fashion terms practically qualifies the cape as a wardrobe staple. London Fashion Week’s perennial darling, Burberry Prorsum, showed heavily fringed, ankle-length capes in burgundy to great dramatic effect. At Andrew Gn, capes were trimmed with fur and tassels to add a bohemian twist. Meanwhile, Christopher Raeburn played with proportions and asymmetry in a tribute to the inherent avant-garde nature of the cape; worn with a belt cinched at the waist, the overall look still managed to be more about order than chaos, despite a mismatched collar and off-kilter fastenings.
Whether it was worn under a tailored coat or tucked into a mini skirt, the polo-neck was everywhere this season. In New York, DKNY exaggerated the funnel shape to create a neck cocoon, perfect for staving off the sub-zero temperatures outside the show. Milan saw MSGM exploring the allure of pairing the long-sleeved jumpers with short skirts and thigh-high boots. At Loewe, Jonathan Anderson looked to the 1980s for inspiration. His collection featured slouchy jackets that enveloped the models, allowing only the ubiquitous polo-neck to peek through.
When labels as diverse as Dior, Issey Miyake and Christopher Kane converge on one theme, you know it’s a keeper. The brightly coloured patterns seen across the catwalks ranged from the geometric to the psychedelic, with a nod to the 1960s along the way. That influential decade was most apparent at Dior, where vinyl boots and shift dresses were the order of the day. Over at Christopher Kane, the designer had his team take life-drawing lessons. The results formed the basis for dresses made with what he describes as ‘lover’s lace’, which were a cheeky yet sensual exercise in trompe l’oeil.
Thigh’s the limit
Another key item carried over from the previous season was the thigh-high boot. Whether in its red PVC incarnation at Ashish, or as a ladylike lace-up at Giambattista Valli, the eye-catching footwear was everywhere. For Versace, Donatella Versace teamed black latex boots with jewel-toned dresses to temper the eroticism. Ashish took the opposite tack and ramped up the raunch factor with silk negligees. For a more wearable take, look to Giambattista Valli. He gave a masterclass in how to undermine the demurity of the shift dress with nothing but a pair of tightly laced boots.
From John Galliano’s feathers and loose knits at Maison Martin Margiela to Karl Lagerfeld’s spiky quilted fabrics at Chanel and Mark Katrantzou’s experiments with unexpected textiles, many of the clothes this season are just begging to be touched. Whether you mix fabrics and colours or stick to one tone and texture (as with Stella McCartney’s amazing faux fur ensembles), be sure to wear something as interesting to the feel as it is easy on the eye.
Patch things up
The term patchwork might conjure images of children’s toys, ragged apparel or unsightly home furnishings, but this season a host of designers showed that patchwork can also result in a perfect evening look. Michael van der Ham’s glistening dresses are ideal for a party, and the contrast of sparkle and khaki at Rochas was surprisingly elegant. Stella McCartney’s classic colour scheme provided a grown up base for her mix of patterns and textures and looked perfect for a formal occasion.
The 80s might be the decade of choice for many labels, but the 70s are still going strong for many others. In particular, flared trousers are popular and we envision many a pair of skinnies taking a break this autumn/winter. Chloé’s flared suit pants were smart yet feminine, Balmain’s exaggerated flares proved the trend can be fun and glamorous at once, and Alexis Mabille combined the style with a sporty trend to great effect.
Romantic styles and a nod to history seemed to be having a moment on the catwalks, with references to everything from Victorian to medieval style. Our favourite element of this approach was the preference for full-length skirts and dresses, which add a light and feminine feel even in the depths of winter. Giles, Alberta Ferretti and John Galliano offered three very different takes on the style, proving that it can work for any sartorial taste.
Suits and tailored pieces continue to be a major trend, and while the shapes are at times masculine or androgynous, a shock wave of colour has run through the collections this season. Whether you’re taken by Roland Mouret’s pastels, Prada’s primary-coloured suits or Cédric Charlier’s more relaxed, jewel-toned offerings, make sure that you’re suited and booted in fittingly stand-out style this season.