Pleats have been favoured for their functionality and versatility since Issey Miyake popularised his innovative version of them in 1993. They have not featured prominently on the catwalks recently but it’s good news for spring/summer 2014 – pleats are back with a vengeance.
Over the past month they have made an appearance on myriad catwalks, on classic schoolgirl-style skirts or spilling from suit jackets. Salvatore Ferragamo went for traditional wrap-around pleated skirts buckled at the waist, while Trussardi’s pleats added another dimension to crisp palazzo pants.
At Céline, pleated chiffon skirts edged out below long-line slouchy tees and light summer outerwear, or floated around the ankles to add femininity to otherwise sporty looks. Mary Katrantzou reimagined the pleated skirt in a voluminous, structural bell shape, and Raf Simons gave the classic Dior black jacket new life with a coloured concertina at the rear: business up front, party at the back.
The trend for monochrome is certainly carrying through to spring/summer, as is its sister trend, the all-white ensemble. Impractical though it may be, there is something about head-to-toe white that seems fresh no matter the occasion, especially now that the white stiletto has been rescued from the fashion scrap heap.
The different interpretations on show this season are testament to the versatility of this trend, which can be adapted to any style. At Versace, Donatella’s trademark low-cut gowns in bright white accented with silver chainmail looked crisp yet sensual against a summer tan.
Pringle’s sumptuous separates gave off an innocent romance, while Tom Ford’s leather jackets and mini dresses radiated sex appeal. Mulberry’s quilted frocks felt youthful and carefree, and semi-sheer flowing white dresses lent the Chloé girl a wonderful dreaminess. Roberto Cavalli closed his show with a stunning floor-length beaded gown, its 1920s glamour contrasting beautifully with model of the moment Sasha Luss’s ice-white hair and modern insouciance.
Sheer and transparent fabrics, perhaps the most seductive trends for next season, are very popular choices, with designers including Meadham Kirchhoff, JW Anderson and Mulberry looking to light-as-air materials that are perfect for hot summer days. Light and loose came the opaque trousers, tops and dresses from Emma Hill for her last season at Mulberry.
Oversized floral prints featured on white two-pieces, as well as toning stripes, feminine as always. A playful collection from Meadham Kirchhoff was an Elizabethan homage that included handmade lace and hand-embroidered slip dresses distinguished by impressive detail. JW Anderson attributed the use of delicate textiles to the uncharacteristically warm summer that London enjoyed this year and offered an experimental collection that played nudity against heavy fabrics.
For more reserved dressers, layering will be key to this trend. Look to Paul & Joe, who offered shirts and oversized cropped tops. Stella McCartney also incorporated this trend into her collection, presenting beautifully delicate dresses with lace and silk, the sheer detailing at the hem adding an exquisite allure.
Although some serious heels have made their debuts in the past month, it has been the season of the flat shoe. At Giles, stunning dresses printed with photographs of beautiful women were accessorised with lace-up sneakers, as were candy pink shift dresses, sheer violet gowns and, well, everything.
Missoni’s models were shod in multi-coloured, multi-strapped sandals which perfectly co-ordinated with the upbeat collection. At Simone Rocha and JW Anderson, two of London’s hottest tickets, flat shoes were perfectly suited to the über-cool collections.
Similarly at Ashish, flat shoes seemed the natural choice, and jewel-covered slippers drew many admiring glances. If any further evidence were needed, Tod’s – a shoe brand at heart – seemed fully committed to the flat, whether accompanying loose shirt-dresses or sharp, tailored suits. Flats are in, it’s official. Tired feet everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief.
An abundance of flowers, the symbol of summer and femininity, burst into life on catwalk after catwalk. As last spring/summer, embellishment and embroidery brought these blooms to life. Less is no longer more, as vivid prints and adornment were key themes across the four fashion capitals.
Erdem departed from his typically whimsical designs, presenting a monochrome collection with white, paper-like flower cut-outs on white sweatshirts, sheer jackets and trousers and similar black embellishments on black embroidered dresses and biker jackets.
Matthew Williamson offered his clientele plenty of choice with versatile day looks – shift dresses, organza dresses and suits, all in citrus bright colours, no less than 80% of them featuring hand-painted floral prints or embroidered daisy-like flowers. Antonio Marras’s girls walked out with their heads wreathed in green leaves, while the clothes featured photographic prints of roses as well as appliqué leaves and blossoms.
Raf Simons, creative director of the venerable Parisian fashion house Dior, also created a floral fantasy, sending out a ‘new tribe of flower women,’ according to his show notes. Guests were invited to a dreamy set made from scaffolding and lined with flora; lilac wisteria (made from silk) and real roses featured, but this was no garden party.
The collection explored the poisonous side of flowers and the Belgian designer skilfully mixed floral motifs with heavily embroidered gowns. There was also statement jewellery, with green jewelled vines adorning the models’ décolletages.
Those who like their fashion on the sweet side will be pleased to know that pastels are a key story for next season. Pastel was first spotted at Burberry, where sugar-sweet shades were tempered by contrasting silhouettes and sheer fabrics, and at Peter Pilotto, where pretty, pale hues worked their way into the designer’s signature prints.
Softer shades also appeared in Christopher Kane’s botanically inspired spring/summer 2014 collection, which was peppered with hints of pistachio and lilac. Alice Temperley offered a more traditional take on the trend, showing princess-worthy evening dresses in girlish shades of pink and lilac.
In Milan, Donatella Versace adopted pastels for Versace’s collection, taming the house’s characteristic glamour with pops of pale colour. Marco Zanini kept things pale and interesting for his last collection for Rochas, offering sumptuous buttercup yellow jacquard coats and intricately embroidered dresses.
Miu Miu provided a typically unique take on the trend, presenting a 1970s twist on pastels in the form of its beautifully tailored outwear and taking the look to another level by deftly colour-blocking the soft shades.
The worlds of fashion and art frequently collide and that’s certainly true for next season. Trend-spotters should have their paintboxes at the ready as several designers displayed their most artistic sides this season. Giles adorned dresses with 90s prints from fashion photographer Glen Luchford while Dolce & Gabbana emblazoned everything from dresses to skirts and T-shirts with lithograph postcard scenes of Ancient Greece.
Miuccia Prada had a more contemporary vision, choosing to stage the Prada show among specially commissioned artworks from well-known artists such as Jeanne Detallante and Pierre Mornet, with the images reworked onto pieces from the collection.
At Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld was feeling similarly artistic, converting the Grand Palais into an art exhibition for the show, complete with giant Chanel scent bottles and enormous 2:55 handbags, and the collection was correspondingly colourful and creative. The staging also offered clues about the collection at Céline, where guests sat on bright geometric blocks while Phoebe Philo sent out a collection of energetic, painterly prints.
If you only invest in one piece next season, make sure it’s a bomber jacket. Set to be a must-have, the bomber was an outwear fixture at numerous shows. In New York both Tommy Hilfiger and Marc by Marc Jacobs offered a sporty, modern update on this classic piece.
In London, the bomber jacket appeared on the runway at Richard Nicoll and Christopher Raeburn. It was also a focus at Jonathan Saunders, in silky and multi-coloured variations. Teatum Jones offered a slinky floral style and Pringle gave the sports classic a makeover for spring using perforated fabrics.
British favourite Erdem managed to make the bomber jacket evening-appropriate by showing a sheer, exquisitely embroidered rendition. Similarly adding a luxe element to the trend, Trussardi sent out sumptuous snakeskin versions at its show in Milan.
Balmain kept its bomber jackets 1980s-inspired and oversized; creative director Oliver Rousteing’s versions were quilted, printed with houndstooth checks or covered in sequins and are certain to be standout pieces for Balmain come spring.
Stella McCartney, an expert at artistically combining sportswear with luxury, offered another way to wear the trend, including a longer, fitted version in a silk crocodile print that seamlessly encapsulates the brand’s effortless elegance.
Check it out
Tartan, houndstooth and oversized checks are perhaps most associated with winter knits and scarves, but, in a hangover from the autumn/winter 2013/14 collections, graphic checks abounded on the spring/summer catwalks for 2014. There were bold head-to-toe gingham looks from House of Holland in reds, pinks and blue.
London-based design duo Teatum Jones’s collection was dedicated to hard-working women; thinking of their mothers in particular, the two designers reinterpreted the tea-towel print they associate with their childhoods as their theme.
The motif is woven into the shoulder on gowns and also seen on biker jackets and summer dresses. There were over 90 looks from Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel; his signature tweed was bound to feature, but this season, it appeared to be deconstructed, with something raw about the dresses and jackets, always so iconic despite seasonal embellishments.
This was a celebration of art and the palette was paint-box bright, including fuchsia, lime, navy and white.