This season, the best accessories are bold and beautiful, with colour, print and texture galore. From Prada to Louis Vuitton, Fendi to Versace, the leading catwalk brands have injected serious fun into their handbags, shoes and more. Make a fashion statement for spring/summer with the best eye-catching accessories on the market
‘We always say that fashion is a reflection of our times,’ said Dries Van Noten backstage at his spring/summer 2018 show in Paris. ‘Well, maybe that’s enough of that! Let’s do something optimistic, enjoy things – and really go for it.’
The pervading mood of the season is a sense of upbeat exuberance that eschews minimalist tropes in favour of all-out maximalism
For Van Noten, this optimism translates into a collection bursting with colour, print and texture – from layered florals, checks and painterly prints to rich brocade, heavy glitter and sprays of sequins. What the designer so perfectly articulated has become the pervading mood of the season: a sense of upbeat exuberance that eschews minimalist tropes in favour of all-out maximalism. And, as with all great trends, this one has found expression not only in ready to wear, but also in the must-have accessories from leading international brands.
Miuccia Prada frequently looks to the art world for inspiration, and this season’s Prada collection celebrates the work of female comic-book and manga artists. The designer has printed their illustrations on to handbags, adding texture with leather patches and complementing the bold artistic style with bright blocks of colour and liberally applied metal studs. The cartoons find their way on to feminine kitten heels, too, as full fabric uppers or more subtly in decorative bows.
A similarly arty inspiration is apparent at Versace, though here it is pop art in the frame, as designer Donatella Versace revisited a key motif from her late brother Gianni’s spring/summer 1991 collection. The faces of movie stars James Dean and Marilyn Monroe – reimagined in a rainbow of colours - are plastered across thigh boots and ladylike handbags in a comment on pop culture that seems just as relevant now as it did in the 1990s, or even the 1950s.
Not that arty prints are the only kind to look out for. From the ditsy to the geometric, the classic to the unexpected, prints and motifs of every size, shape and variety grace the standout accessories of the season. On the catwalk, Dolce & Gabbana adorned its bags with everything from pastries and peas to underwater scenes, while the brand’s cruise 2018 collection features painterly florals enhanced by appliqué roses and sparkling crystals.
At Louis Vuitton, a black and silver leaf pattern is overlaid with embroidered flowers in pastel colours to striking effect. Meanwhile Fendi presents updated florals, with soft and textural flowers overlapping its signature monogram print.
Fendi, in fact, has embraced a variety of prints in its accessories, from checks and plaids to florals and monograms, and further enhances the maximalist feel of the collection with a multitude of textures.
Plaid shoppers in synthetic fabrics feature raffia handles; mixed-fabric shoes have golden or ridged heels, gauze at the toe, metallic stripes and canvas straps; a leather cross-body bag features an artistic check and is edged by thick monochrome fringing. For the full effect, pair shoes and bag with Fendi’s luxurious printed socks.
On the subject of frivolous hosiery, it would be criminal to overlook Gucci, a brand that has been instrumental in popularising the trend, along with that of quirky, ugly-pretty footwear.
This season’s catwalk was graced by nude tights embellished with glittery diamanté stars or tiny flowers, which looked ladylike when paired with chic ankle-strap heels, and laid-back when peeking out from loafers. Standout shoes of the season include vintage-inspired low heels covered all over with sparkling studs, and satin mules with studded heels and a delightful furry strip at the bridge.
Valentino also excels in texture and embellishment this spring/summer, whether in dainty handbags encrusted with beads that sparkle like gems, or the quilted leather (and even quilted clear plastic) of its Rockstud collection, which this season more than ever begs to be squeezed. Yet it is the bold use of colour that is most enticing here: rich violet, deep burgundy, cool mint and even rainbow-coloured creations will soon have you setting aside your trusty little black bag.
Perhaps Dries Van Noten is right, and the exuberance and fun of the catwalks this season reflects a need for optimism and escapism in our lives. Perhaps it’s simply an inevitable reaction to the sombre minimalism that has crept into so many collections over the past few decades. Whatever the reason, this is a trend that has made itself heard, and there’s never been a better way to step away from wardrobe staples in favour of truly statement accessories.