Another season swings into gear, unveiling the new looks, but while craft and imagination continue, the world around fashion is changing. As global populations wake up to the climate emergency, consumers are starting to understand that fashion’s excessive cycle of production, consumption and disposal has turned it into one of the most destructive industries on the planet. And they’re starting to see that every trend has appeared before, many times, and will appear again. It seems it is time to listen to Anna Wintour, the most powerful woman in fashion today, Vogue editor-in-chief and artistic director of Condé Nast, the first media company to join the UN’s Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action. Urging shoppers to take better care of their clothes and to pass them on to others, Wintour told Reuters: “For all of us, it means an attention more on craft, on creativity, and less on the idea of clothes that are instantly disposable,” So there’s no need necessarily to take this trend report as a call to purchase, you may prefer to take it as inspiration to create the looks you love out of what you already have, or what you can find in a vintage shop.
It’s always good to see a resurgence of craft on the catwalks: a reminder that fashion can still be careful, slow and delicate, and handmade by communities steeped in history. Crochet at Fendi, Marni and Isabel Marant call to the beach babes in all of us, while both Simone Rocha and JW Anderson at Loewe put lace and embroidery front, back and centre. And hats off to Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen who has been working with some of Ireland’s last remaining damask linen weavers and flax farmers to create a collection of romantic linen pieces – that also contain upcycled scraps of fabric from old work that she had designed with Lee McQueen.
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‘Classics with a twist’ is a phrase so over-used in fashion it’s practically a classic itself – but it’s the transformations that make them exciting. This season, designers respond to that wardrobe staple, the white shirt, with textural fillips and structural play: the delicately chopped sleeves of Chalayan’s offering, for example, recalling the heady days of 1990s deconstruction. Marc Jacobs makes merry with old-school denim, offering diagonal stitching, striped washes and a single-leg incarnation. Meanwhile, the trench is back: embellished with crystals at Burberry, oversized and patent at Junya Watnabe, and given wide, split-ribboned sleeves at JW Anderson. Spywork never looked so cool.
It’s the suit, Jim, but not as we know it. Designers turn the boardroom staple inside out and upside down to create lean silhouettes that were at once louche and effortlessly elegant. Mugler, Proenza Schouler and Michael Kors pair tailoring with lingerie-inspired details such as corsets and bra tops, which all seems rather hard work. Opt instead for long blazers – worn open – and loose straight-legged trousers. We love the ebullient all-over florals at Marc Jacobs and Paco Rabanne, the boyish tuxedo shapes of Celine and Louis Vuitton, and the glorious mix-and-match at Victoria Beckham and Gucci. But your key piece of kit? The waistcoat, which lends just the right amount of Savile Row to the proceedings.
In contrast to ongoing trends of minimalism, neutrality and gothic black, designers also embrace block colour this season. Stella McCartney’s draped Grecian dress, Molly Goddard’s tulle gown and Preen’s fluid, tiered dress, one of the label’s most popular designs, leads a wave of lush blues and aquamarines into the spring wardrobe. Orange, in the form of ballgowns at Valentino and Emilia Wickstead and in separates at Prada and Ferretti, presented a complementary retort. Silhouettes, almost without exception, are relaxed, even romantic: soft shoulders and tunics, wide flowing skirts, silky frilled shirts. The future’s bright.
In every season, there has to be at least one unfeasible trend for those enthusiasts committed to following fashion, however foolhardy that journey might appear. For 2020, it’s the turn of micro-shorts, which snaked their way onto spring 2020 catwalks at Hermes, Ferragamo and Saint Laurent – in every unwearable iteration from knit and denim to high shine and spandex. All well and good if you’re Bella Hadid or Kendall Jenner but, if crotch-high leg wear isn’t your bag, take comfort in stylish culottes seen at Bottega Veneta, Cohoe and Givenchy, which paired tailored jackets with Bermuda shorts for a summer take on office chic.
Long and loose
Traditional expressions of masculinity have been challenged on the catwalks in the past few seasons – and 2020 looks no different. Inspired by eastern silhouettes, brands offer tunics, long shirts and kaftans for men. Results are, by turns, dashingly bohemian and downright beautiful, from the concrete tones of Off-White’s graphic cape, worn over a textured knit and parachute trousers with a hint of desert wanderings, to Vetements’ tongue-in-cheek red shift, redolent of football supporters. Then there’s Etro’s fringed cape, Vuitton’s long floral shirt and Jil Sander’s striped pyjamas. Just go with it.
Boxy suits in a host of sorbet shades and – more often than not – satin textures will appeal to men’s softer sides. The mood is decadent and exciting, even if the colours are baby-doll gone awol. At Givenchy, Clare Wright Keller is offering slick tailoring in shimmering lilac, while Kim Jones’s sashed suiting at Dior Men, worn with slicked-back hair and whiter-than-white trainers, is, frankly, killer. In head-to-toe pink, Balmain’s rolled-up sleeves and wide trousers is the outfit of choice for any Miami Vice’s Sonny Crockett, circa 2020. All hail, the new male.
We can almost sense men queueing up to get behind this trend – not – but see-through came into style this season. Hardly the easiest looks to master, even in womenswear, ordinary men will be pushed to their limits by Louis Vuitton’s tulle over shirt, Dior’s organza bomber jackets and shirts (worn with earring), and see-through vests at Dries Van Noten. Gucci’s sheer-white shirt, worn with lace sleeve, pussy bow and daringly high-waisted trousers probably take the look to its Byron-esque limit, while Ann Demeulemeester did away with any pretence at coverage when she sent a model down the catwalk with red-velvet shirt – open to the pelvis. Less is definitely more, we say.
Pattern and print
Print has been inching its way on to men’s catwalks for the past few seasons but rarely has it been as ubiquitous or as exuberant as Spring 2020. From graphics at Marni and animal prints at DSquared2, Celine and Versace, to florals at Dior, men are taking pattern to their hearts (though Vetement’s floral granny dress, with balaclava, may be a step too far). And, while the scope for delicious mixing and matching (florals and leopard print, in the case of Dries van Noten) has proved endless, there is always joy of the co-ord, the matching top-and-trouser set that is fast becoming de rigeur for the fashionable man. For this, we give you Kenzo’s graphic mermaid print, with matching apron and headscarf. Part Japanese peasant, part city chef: all style.
Think vest, think Die Hard? Think again. Once considered best kept under the safari shirts of colonial sorts, the vest has come into its own as a viable sartorial option for the top half of the body. No need to go as overtly retro as the blue vest paired with brown leather trousers at Ferragamo or the high-octane, low-cut iteration in black sheen at Dries van Noten. Instead, take it easy with Prada’s ribbed pink-and-blue vest, worn with white trousers to create the ‘summer by the seaside’ look. We also love Loewe’s oversized option and Lanvin’s happy whale print. Yippee-ki-yay, people. Yippee-ki-yay.
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