If you follow fashion religiously, the last month has been the second-most exciting month of the year for you — second to September, of course, which is dedicated to debuting next year’s spring collections. And if you’re a true fashionista, you’ve already spent free time scrolling through each designer’s collection and reading reviews on the Internet, deciding what the “it” items are for the fall season and what trends will make their way from the runway into our beloved fast-fashion stores. But if you don’t have the time, here’s a recap of the last four weeks of fashion.
The fashion festivities began on Feb. 8 in New York City with American design houses like Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Michael Kors (who arguably had the best collection of his career, conjuring images of luxurious cabin wear perfect for the wintertime). However, these American designers usually keep it conventional and safe, meaning they show an array of sweaters, jackets and pants for fall and an assortment of skirts and cotton blouses for spring.
The shining stars were the young design houses like Rodarte, Prabal Gurung and Proenza Schouler, whose collection, like many others to come, found inspiration from the Far East. The collection was a modern take on samurai women and featured beautifully interwoven leather skirts paired with oversized leather jackets with asymmetrical closings.
And we mustn’t forget Marc Jacobs, who stirred up controversy when he ignored the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s request to hire models over 16 years of age. Jacobs presented oversized everything (another trend). With oversized wonky fur hats, exaggerated bell-shaped skirts and overwhelming knit scarves, it seemed that the clothes weighed more than the models.
Alongside Asian-inspired clothing and oversized silhouettes, there were other trends that started to take form in New York City. The trend of layering skirts over pants was a surprising new take on staying warm. Rag & Bone’s edgy and youthful collection of skirts and long dresses over pants pulled the look off. Yes, it was sartorial, but it was achievable without looking too ridiculous.
Pink and red color-blocking was also popular with designers like Diane von Furstenberg and Vivienne Tam.
Miilitary-inspired jackets were featured in the shows of Tommy Hilfiger, Alexander Wang and Victoria Beckham. The final trend came from a carryover from last spring: the collar. Seen on dresses and blouses, the collar was designed in all shapes and sizes, prints and colors.
When NYFW concluded, fashion industry’s elite flew across the pond to London, then Milan and wrapped up in Paris. London, known for its English countryside sophistication as well as its edgier avant-garde fashion, didn’t disappoint on either end. Burberry Prorsum expanded on its pre-fall line with a collection of wool and velvet peplum skirts in natural hues with cropped tweed jackets and velvet belts accented with bows. The collection was youthful and preppy, but other designers decided to target a more mature consumer. Jonathan Saunders, inspired by hit television show “Downton Abbey,” gave us a collection of crisp white button-ups and brilliant tweed jackets over slender, ’60s-inspired, geometric-patterned pants.
British sophistication continued with Erdem, which has provided fashion with beautifully detailed floral prints since 2005. The collection was pretty and feminine, yet made for strong women.
Now for the edgier side of LFW. Matthew Williamson had fabulous shimmering lamé shift dresses with geometric details that lay under chiffon T-shirts. He extended his glittery collection to include a pair of incredible gold slim pants and rich red jacquard pants with sheer blouses and fitted boyfriend blazers. Then there was Topshop Unique, the high-end line of Topshop, which flaunted a collection of oversized vests on top of flowing below-the-knee skirts, Dr. Marten-inspired ankle booties, military shirt dresses and slouchy sweater dresses. The collection was 100 percent street style and was a sure forecast of what we should expect to see on the streets of London.
Finally, Mary Katrantzou mastered digital patterning in futuristic 3D structured cocktail dresses and flowing chiffon baby doll dresses. Peter Pilotto continued the avant-garde, futuristic trend by providing striking geometric-patterned dresses with cutouts slashed across the collar bone, shoulders and arms in neon yellows and greens and electric blues.
Finally, we travel to Milan for the real big-timers of fashion: Roberto Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo, Versace, Alberta Ferretti, Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Giorgio Armani, Missoni and Fendi. Miuccia Prada undoubtedly and unsurprisingly stole the week with her celebration of fashion, exclaiming, “Everyone has a theory about their collections these days, but I’m sick of theory. This collection is about the pleasure of fashion.” Every model strutted down the purple-carpeted runway in pants under a skirt, long T-length A-line dresses or sleeveless high-waisted jewel embroidered coats.
If there is one common thread among top designers, it is that pants are the wardrobe staple this fall, even if a skirt accompanies it. Forget about the femininity that defined the spring collections; fall is all about exploring the masculinity that’s within.
Roberto Cavalli, the master of excess, presented a collection that most likely had every PETA advocate outraged. “Channeling your inner animal” was Cavalli’s mission, and it was far from impossible. There were python snakeskin pants that appeared to look like cheetah print, as well as snakeskin and mink fur jackets. Every 20-something European oil heir will be wearing something from his collection. It was so exuberant and luxe that it made you forget about animal rights or being anti-fur.
Italian designers don’t only have an impeccable understanding of a woman’s body, draping, tailoring, fabric and design — they have an unrepentant love for their homeland. Recently, Dolce & Gabbana has shown collections inspired by Italy in the 1960s, the Italian countryside and Sicily’s baroque religious traditions. Black and white dominated in an array of fabrics, from velvet to lace to tulle, and all were sumptuously embroidered with gold thread, symbolizing the power and regency the Catholic Church possesses over its Italian culture. The pride Stefano Dolce and Domenico Gabbana have for their country is bound to rub off on you.
With more than 100 shows down, Fashion Week finished up the fall collections in Paris, the fashion capital of the world. It’s not only the place where the biggest design houses are located, but it’s the city that made street style hip and chic. Although the design houses are over 50 years old, the fashion is forward-thinking without losing its bearings on what’s truly important — class, elegance, simplicity and timeless style.
Chanel and Louis Vuitton directly resembled Prada’s ode to pants over skirts. At Chanel, there wasn’t a single look that was without a pair of pants. In black, dark green and plum tweed (similar to the colors of Gucci), Lagerfeld succeeded in creating a new take on the three-piece suit (pant, skirt and jacket, that is.) Although we had seen it on the runway numerous times in the fall, it’s Chanel that’s got it right. No surprise there. At Louis Vuitton’s closing show, Marc Jacobs had models coming out of an old-fashioned train car inside the Louvre. Porters accompanied the models, walking a couple of steps behind, carrying LV luggage. It was the essence of luxury and Parisian chic.
Now that you know all the latest trends, go and dress to impress.