Fashion month has finally come to an end, heels will be hung up and editors will be back at their desks. Now it’s time to look back on all of the collections shown in New York, London, Paris and Milan so as to pick out the very best of what the designers had to offer. I’m going to take you on a whirlwind tour through the very best of what fashion month had to offer, from the ubiquitous trouser suit to a plethora of velvet, to cut through all that fashion noise and present my ultimate personal highlights.
One of the most talked about shows of the season was undoubtedly Marc Jacobs, not only because he had Lady Gaga walk the runway, but because the clothes themselves really were spectacular. The show had a haunting, gothic feel to it with models made up to look almost like extras from the Addam’s family. That’s not to say they didn’t look fabulous, the dark lips and 20’s style finger-waved hair (with loose ends that gave the look a modern edge) offset the collection beautifully. There were laser cut skirts, oversize jumper dresses and lots of fur. The collection had a distinctly Victorian feel to it, with an abundance of lace doiley style necklines and pussybow blouses, but this nostalgia was paired with something all together more modern, such as the dark denim jacket covered in appliqué and adorned with chains. The resulting look was one that appeared part Miss Havisham, part steam punk princess and part flea-market finds. There were monochrome polka dots, long coats embellished with sequins and coats covered in feathers (as modelled by Kendall Jenner), but the pinnacle of the collection was undoubtedly the fabulous, fear inducing, sky high platform boots worn with everything.
Now onto Calvin Klein, where the collection was expectedly chic, smart and urban. True to form, Calvin Klein produced plenty of masculine silhouettes but also plenty of ultra feminine, seriously sexy looks such as the silky shift dresses, some of which featured fur. A personal favourite of mine is undoubtedly the brand’s latest take on the LBD, this time with a plunging neckline and decorative fluffy shoulder pieces (below left). The camisole featured rather heavily- unsurprising for a brand so synonymous with lingerie- and there was lots and lots of black. The overall feel of the collection was smart and slick but with an ‘undone’ edge, stitching was left purposefully unfinished and threads were left trailing. Another key look worth mentioning is of course, the two piece suit. As you will see, the trouser suit will be everywhere come Autumn, and Calvin Klein’s offering- with slouchy trousers and a tailored oversize jacket- looks set to be one of the most popular.
Whilst going through New York’s highlights, I’d also like to give a quick mention to Edun, the ethical brand that seeks to promote trade in Africa. Creative director Danielle Sherman’s collection included long coats with white blanket stitching, printed silks, a gorgeous pinstriped floor length skirt, pops of yellow knit amongst darker colours and most impressively, the fringed multi coloured dress and coat.
Lastly, let us turn to Ralph Lauren were- unsurprisingly- quintessentially American looks were the order of the day. The start of the show heavily featured neutral colours; there was lots of oatmeal, different shades of brown and that generally preppy vibe so synonymous with Lauren that one almost expects the models to pop off to the stables straight from the runway. The conservatism of polo necks and smart trousers and of shirts and ties worn with waistcoats was off set by the abundance of fringing reminiscent of the wild wild west. There was lots and lots of texture, from the light brown suede two piece suit to tweed, tartan, cashmere and velvet blazers. Velvet featured heavily, and one particular favourite was the black dress with lacy capped shoulders and decorative neckline as seen on Taylor Hill. The juxtaposition of the conventional and the more ‘rock and roll’ so clearly present in the show reached its pinnacle with the final look, a jaw-droppingly wonderful combo of billowing gold skit and black polo neck.
There were so many wonderful shows in my home town that I’ve been hard pressed to condense my commentary to just a mere few labels. However, some collections were so truly outstanding that they deserve attention, most notably Alexander McQueen. Creative director Sarah Burton really did pull out all of the stops; the numerous floor length sheer gowns were so staggeringly beautiful that they appeared as other-worldly as garments can get. The embroidery, the bead work, the ruffles and the feathers gave the collection an overtly feminine, ethereal tone; even the tailored pieces had a sexy edge. There were butterfly, lipstick and floral motifs adorning pieces that were neutral in tone, which gave the collection an air of late night sophistication, rather than comical excess. The pieces- especially the dresses- were undoubtedly glamorous, completely Gatsby-esque and totally gorgeous. I want them all.
As the pioneer of the digital print revolution, Mary Katranzou had big expectations to live up to for aw16 and her collection most certainly did not disappoint. There was a lot of embellishment and a lot of embroidery, much of which featured star, horse and heart motifs, in which the show’s inspiration- ‘love’s young dream’- was evident. There was a joyful abundance of colour, from multi coloured furs to heavily patterned coats and skirts. As with many of the other collections shown in fashion month, there was more than just a int of Americana and there were also A LOT of pleats.The resulting aura was one that was romance meets rodeo, encapsulated in the final look- a full length embroidered dress. Butterflies featured heavily, indeed my personal favourite has to be the sheer dress with full skirt and large butterfly motif. Here, and elsewhere there was a lot of sheer fabric, lots of lace inserts and let us not forget the fabulous ballet flats- some plain, some striped, some star patterned- all covetable.
Another of my favourite London shows was Topshop Unique (obvs) which had editors and ordinary folk alike salivating at the mouth. There was lots of clever layering, quite a bit of leapord print and once again, a surplus of black velvet. One of the particular highlights was the gorgeous black velvet dress worn by Taylor Hill, as were the coats and jackets. The Peter Pillotto collection was similarly impressive as- in embracing a kind of nordic romanticism- it appeared at once ethereal and practical. One of the designers- and namesake of the brand- Peter spoke of this Viking influence, saying that “we translated these poetic motifs into chenille embroidery”. The detail present in this collection is just mind blowing, from fabulous delicate embroidery around the toggles on a fur coat to swirling patterns intricately woven into tops and skirts (see left).It looked almost hand drawn, and complemented the pale, wintery colour palette perfectly.
The Gucci show has been one of the most talked about of the season, and given that colour and eccentricity were order of the day, it certainly isn’t hard to see why. As with the Dolce & Gabanna collection, the ‘princess’ ideal took centre stage. The ultra feminine collection was largely made up of ice-cream colours; a pink fur coat was paired with pink tights and a pink bag, the lady-like button down dress in a pastel shade of turquoise was worn with a hat, tights, bag and strappy heels to match, the crazy yellow ‘big bird’ style coat paired with yellow headscarf, bag, shoes and tights . Creative director Alessandro Michele- who has been at the helm for a year- revels in juxtaposition and this was obvious in many of the pieces. The pink and green of the brocade coat with furry lower arms was paired with a shocking turquoise double breasted collar and fabulous red accessories. The funky unexpectedness of it all stopped it from appearing sacharine, as did the geek glasses paired with looks such as the tweed jacket and checked trousers. There was, of course, the obligatory trouser suit, but this time in a bold red with black detailing. There was of course some more sombre looks featuring lots of tailoring that appear more wearable, such as the grey two piece with slouchy bottoms (baggier trousers are de rigueur this season). However it was the wacky, girlish elements of the show that won me over, with my absolutely favourite dress (right)- featuring billowing skirt, pastel colours and star applique over the boobs- summing up the feel of the collection nicely.
The Emporio Armani show- called ‘New Pop’- was notable largely because of the way it
totally embraced modernity. The collection was rife with allusions to technology; digital designs featured pixelated prints and geometric appliques, and futuristic looking fabrics such as PVC were everywhere. Also present were tailored jackets, metallic pumps, black velvet and pink and black stripes. There was a laid back athletic feel to some of the pieces, especially to the hoodies as seen as part of the menswear. the line felt incredibly youthful and served to remind audiences of the integral part the digital revolution has played in shaping our current fashion industry (need I even mention the word Instagram?!).
At Versace Donatella once again embraced female strength and sexuality with an ultra wearable, versatile collection that celebrated the super model. Versace were at the centre of the ‘supermodel’ trend in the 1990’s, and Dontella has brought this legacy up to date by having top models from Kendall to Jourdan to Gigi all walk in the show. The collection was suitably sexy and featured abstract baroque prints, silk shirts, leather and mini dresses. Dresses with uneven hemlines featuring yellow and blues were paired with fabulous grey boots, and the gorgeous wet look grey coat lined with pink fur paired with a mint green slip dress. One stand out look was the leather jacket and skirt in cornflower blue modelled by Jourdan Dunn, as was the fabulous two piece suit in the same colour worn over a cropped polo neck. Another highlight was the sexy nineties style spaghetti strap pink slip with a cowl neck, which literally screamed Carrie Bradshaw. Beyond pastels there were several navy coats with leather detailing that really would look as chic in the streets as they did on the catwalk.
The Bottega Veneta collection was similarly impressive, but it embraced a totally different ethos than most of the other designers. Creative director Tomas Maier said his collection was about “personal luxury” and the clothes are indeed all very wearable and would fit seamlessly into the stylish working woman’s wardrobe. The collection was very simple- a far cry from the excesses of the other shows- and featured slim fit trousers, cashmere, pleated skirts and leopard print outerwear. Wool featured heavily, and the clothes came to take centre stage as the handbags so synonymous with the brand were shrunk down considerably. The stand out pieces were the dresses with sheer long sleeves, built in bralets and beautiful pleated skirts. These came in navy, pale lilac, caramel and nude and at once evoke both sensuality and practicality.
There was so many wonderful collections shown in Paris that I’ve had an incredibly difficult time picking out my highlights. The Valentino show was undoubtedly special. Inspired by today’s industry and by the figure of the dancer, the collection featured magnificent ballet dresses, sequins, ballet shoes and a heavily adorned sheer dress that can only be described as a masterpiece (right). The Louis Vuitton show also harnessed the fast pace of the fashion world by encouraging retrospection. Creative director Nicolas Ghesquière modernised old pieces and made them seem relevant to today’s changing tastes; vintage scarf prints became little dresses and leather and mohair featured heavily. Whilst this collection was deemed relatively wearable, coming from experimental Ghesquière, there were still a few stand out pieces that would most certainly not be for the faint hearted. I especially love the shiny trousers in bright red, but admittedly, I’m not sure if it’s a look I’d be able to pull off.
The Stella McCartney collection was, like Valentino, typically feminine. The shapes, whilst wide, were womanly and the printed silk trousers, pleated gold skirt, and jumper with a ‘woman power’ slogan on it were every bit the kind of pieces we have come to expect from Stella. Faux fur and faux leather were featured heavily, as were beautiful lacey slip dresses which, like so many of the other designer’s offerings, featured sheer fabric and pleats. The quilted over-sized puffer jackets- in rust, black and navy- proved very popular as they are at once stylish and utilitarian, perfect for the busy urban woman. Stella managed to combine two of the hottest trends to emerge from fashion month by showcasing a black velvet trouser suit, which is sure to be on the ‘most desired’ list of every woman in fashion. The cropped bomber jacket was also a stand out piece, given that every fashionista worth his or her salt knows how big they are set to be over the coming year.
As much as I loved the emoji’s that featured heavily throughout the Chanel collection, my favourite show had to be Balmain, and not only because of the all-star line up, but because one again Olivier Rousteing has produced the most fabulously opulent, intricate collection this world has ever seen. In a particularly clever marketing coup, the models wore wigs- Kendall Jenner was blonde, Gigi Hadid and Rosie Huntington-Whitely were transformed into raven haired goddesses- which ensured that the collection was plastered across magazines and newspapers globally the following day. Unusually for Balmain, pastel shades figured strongly, and both Kendall and Gigi were clothed in a soft powder blue. As always, it was all in the detail at Balmain. Shoulders were pointy, frills and other decorative features ubiquitous and peplums rigid. Many of the pieces were clearly influenced by lingerie, Karlie Kloss modelled a gorgeous baby pink bodice with sheer lace frilly trousers. The dressing gown style long striped coats as seen on many of the models were worn over the shoulder a la Kardashian, and the more conventionally ‘Balmain’ pieces featured the signature black and gold colours, as well as heavy pearl embellishments. The whole collection was so feminine, so regal and downright baroque in its aesthetic, this time Rousteing managed to out-Balmain himself.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Giovanni Giannoni/WWD/REX/Shutterstock (5609116t) Rosie Huntington-Whiteley on the catwalk Balmain show, Runway, Autumn Winter 2016, Paris Fashion Week, France – 03 Mar 2016
Whilst Balmain in all its grandiose was my favourite show, one of the pieces I love best- for all it’s simplicity- is a jacket by Vetements. The anti-authority, youthful collection produced by Vetements embraced the casual and the world has not been able to stop talking about it since. The show embraced irreverence; swear-words and ironic outrageous slogans (“You Fuck’n Asshole”, “Justin4ever”, “UltraSkinny” ) featured heavily, as did uniforms, some ‘naughty school girl’ style, others made up of plaid suits with slouchy bottoms.There were plenty of references to goth culture and to heavy metal, and the oversized silhouettes and baggy hoodies synonymous with the brand made several appearances. THE jacket (right) ticks both of those boxes, and in red and orange- worn slouchily off the shoulder on one side- is just so fucking.cool in that it is at once high fashion and also extremely practical. The designers played with proportion; a key look was a shrunken purple hoody worn over a maxi skirt. All in all the line is so different precisely because in a world of high fashion, the label has embraced sweats and street wear, and by showing men’s and women’s wear together, celebrates modern androgyny. Velvet made yet another appearance, this time in the form of a gold coat, but beyond this Vetements- as a tough, unorthodox cult brand- certainly did operate under the rules of subversion.
So there you have it, a quick fire round of all of my fashion month highlights, from my favourite shows to my most desired pieces. One thing’s for sure, everyone will have at least one piece of velvet in their Autumn wardrobe, and we can definitely expect heavy adornment, sequins, appliqué and embellishment to hit the high street later this year. Whether I’ll be embracing the feminine gothic aesthetic, the tough street style vibe, the super girly lingerie inspired look or the busy working woman’s wardrobe remains to be decided.