Summer may not quite be over yet, but retailers (and fashionistas) are already anticipating autumn. And few autumns have been as sartorially wideranging as the coming one. From pumped-up tartans and a touch of the regal to punk party dresses and supersized swing coats, the season offers a rare cornucopia of looks. Click through to view the highlights.
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Feathery finery Even at high resolution, it’s difficult to fully appreciate the detail involved in some of the plumed embellishments for fall. The negligees that looked to be lace in the Louis Vuitton collection were actually precisely cut feathers. Emma Watson and Kate Bosworth have already been photographed wearing a dress paneled in rosettes handformed from goose and pheasant feathers. Dries Van Noten took the loosest approach, his feather-covered evening pieces suggesting actual fowl in motion.
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Edgy fur (literally) Love it or loathe it, fur has been used innovatively by many designers of late – woven, laser cut, patched together and sheered to remarkable effect. The latest update scales back its prominence, (mostly) taking it from statement coat to statement accessory. From Lanvin (pictured), there is a fox stole that transitions into a sleeve that keeps at least one arm warm. Marni and Paul & Joe proffer coats with fur capelets resembling tea cozies on a pot. And Haider Ackermann, Ralph Lauren, Alexander Wang and Giambattista Valli have all tapped fur to create the plushest trim.
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Punk partywear When Alber Elbaz sent models down his runway dressed in tiered cocktail frocks with sparkly saddle shoes and giant word necklaces screaming out “Help” and “Love,” his message was clear: Let’s get the party started! Both Saint Laurent (pictured) and Oscar de la Renta took a similar tack, giving their lunching ladies license to be a bit rebellious. And the bias-cut tie-dyed dresses from Rodarte are sure to pack a punch on the red carpet – though they’re tame compared to Tom Ford’s comic-bookgraphic gowns (sound effects not included).
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Pumped-up plaid Tartan is a sure thing every few autumns. But this time around, it’s as if designers have injected the windowpane motif with a growth hormone. It appears with linear enormity on dresses from Emilia Wickstead and coats at Mulberry, Thom Browne and Stella McCartney. The plaid at Tommy Hilfiger and Saint Laurent may be smaller, but its all-over application is no less gutsy. Still, Phoebe Philo’s iteration at Céline (pictured) wins the award for most ingenious; hers mimics the checkered pattern common to laundry bags. Call it high/low, squared.
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The lady is a vamp Arguably the strongest trend of the season, this one is also the most complex. Start by imagining a present-day Hitchcock heroine: Prada’s (pictured) deliberately disheveled seductress is a good example. Then throw Erdem’s black lace shifts, Marni’s wallpaper-patterned A-line skirts and Burberry’s heart-covered trench coats into her closet and you get a sense of the way in which designers have hybridized two aesthetic archetypes – the polished midcentury housewife and the femme fatale. Tip: A thickly belted waist is essential.
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Royal treatment Back before the world knew that Will and Kate’s baby was a boy, it almost seemed as if designers were mining centuries past to determine what a flamboyant future queen might wear. This has translated into gilded, gothic laser-cut leather dresses (Giles), Swarovski-adorned blood-red velvet and lace (Marios Schwab), ashen Victorian silhouettes (Gareth Pugh), Spanish renaissance excess (Alexander McQueen) and Byzantine iconography (Dolce & Gabbana). And then there’s Thom Browne, who dressed his Queen of Hearts in shades of grey.
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Black to the future Black this season is far from basic, the tone providing an anchor for some very disparate treatments. Witness the deliberate negative space (as in skin-revealing cutouts and slashes) at Balenciaga, Proenza Schouler (pictured) and Anthony Vaccarello. Notice, too, how Chanel, Roland Mouret and Thomas Tait pitted black against white, creating aerodynamic tension. Massimo Giornetti and Francisco Costa took their collections for Salvatore Ferragamo and Calvin Klein in a darker, moodier direction: Think of it as classic with a neo-noir twist.
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Jewel tones If all of this autumn’s beading and bejewelling strike you as a touch over the top, the colour palettes evoking a range of precious stones are a little more palatable but only slightly less decadent. Paul Smith’s suiting, for instance, stands out in shades of amethyst and ruby. There is plenty of sapphire and garnet from Gucci and Christopher Kane (pictured). And Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing stopped just shy of studding a glitzy green sweater dress in actual emeralds. Although amber isn’t a precious stone, an Hermès suede dress in the sumptuous shade was one of the highlights of a chic, sublimely tailored collection that, in its entirety, could be considered the gem of the season.
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Baby doll redux A megatrend of the early 1990s, the baby-doll dress has returned, a quarter-century later, in a new twist on the grunge standby. Hedi Slimane, for Saint Laurent, offers up the most literal interpretation – short and flouncy with Peter Pan collars and black bows. Some are predictably plaid, while others are sparkly. It is those from Valentino (pictured), Simone Rocha and Moschino that manifest the most pronounced evolution: These have the same aggressive-ingénue spirit, but the proportions are more accessible. And you need not be a model to wear one.
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The new swing coat(s) The tented floral neoprene version from Rochas (pictured) could enshroud two small children. Mary Katrantzou showed coats with half-moon rounded sleeves that had been printed with images by Edward Steichen and Alfred Stieglitz. Raf Simons returned once again to Christian Dior’s New Look, yet removed some of the structure. Soignée slouch ruled at Céline and Stella McCartney. The takeaway here is less about one definitive coat shape than a desire to play with volume and proportion.