by Ruby McAuliffe
What will we be wearing in Spring/Summer 2020, according to the runways? The mood of the season reflected an influential shift in a fashion industry that has long been based on a one-in, one-out cycle of trends to one that’s beginning to take responsibility for its detrimental environmental impact. In turn, a renewed focus on carefully crafted garments swept the catwalks, where streamlined sartorial messages overpowered the constant need for newness generated each season. In spite of the somewhat sombre mood that swept both the runways and streets as the weight of the global climate crisis fell onto the fashion industry, there was no shortage of uplifting creativity, with plenty of out-there trends, OTT moments and an abundance of colour offering a wearable manifestation of hope for brighter days to come.
An all-time fall favourite, the Autumn/Winter 2019 catwalks saw an abundance of the finest sweet leather in autumnal shades of olive, tan and burgundy. For Spring/Summer 2020, the leather trend has taken a colourful turn, with injections of colour offering a cheerful yet infinitely chic antidote to sombre autumnal hues - from vibrant orange and sugary pastel blue at Bottega Veneta to buttery yellow at Emilia Wickstead and supple lavender at Louis Vuitton.
The tonal dressing phenomenon, aka drenching yourself HTT in varying hues of a single colour, has been gaining momentum over the past few seasons, but this season there’s a particular monochrome look en vogue: white. All-over white suiting is SS20’s key to effortless chic. Look to Alexander McQueen for luxurious lace ensembles, or Tory Burch for boxy power-suiting. And for the perfect all-white outfit anatomy: white wide-leg trousers, a clean-cut oversized blazer, glossy white ankle boots and a fedora hat.
Plenty of designers made a case for hot pants this season, with a plethora of leather, satin and denim iterations of the shortest shorts gracing the catwalks. Barely-there shorts were almost ubiquitous at Chanel, featuring short silhouettes in metallics, boucle and black silk partnered with gold chain belts. Isabel Marant unveiled a number of frayed denim shorts in varying washed out shades, while Brandon Maxwell’s tiny, so tiny they were basically underwear, hot pants oozed sex appeal.
AW19 was dominated by a 70s nostalgia, with tweed, equestrian-style boots and gold-chained accessories all seeing a revival. Now we’re heading back a decade further to the swinging 60s, with a renaissance of free-spirited silhouettes, saturated colour palettes and bold, graphic prints. Florals for spring may not be ground-breaking, but this season they’ve taken a psychedelic turn – see Louis Vuitton, Christopher Kane and Fendi. Look to cult brand Rixo, whose care-free, Woodstock-inspired SS20 show offered a collection of paisley prints and vintage-inspired florals.
Taking the crown from AW19’s egg-yolk yellow, tangerine orange is the statement colour for SS20. From decadent ballgowns at Valentino to silky elegant day dresses at Stella McCartney, the abundance of orange on the catwalks symbolises a sartorial manifestation of warmth, with the citrus shade evoking connotations of creativity, joy and success.
Designers from Dior and Dolce & Gabanna to Versace and Marni presented a visual reminder of the need to respect nature, in the form of tropical prints inspired by jungles, forests and exotic flowers that paid homage to the transcendent beauty of nature and the wilderness. But beyond the surface-level approach to going green, the best collections sartorially participated in the conversation around climate change and the future of the fashion industry. Alexander McQueen was just one of the brands to upcycle materials for its show, with creative director Sarah Burton upcycling fabric from old collections designed by both herself and Lee McQueen, while as ever sustainability was at the heart of Stella McCartney’s collection.
Plan ahead for your 2020 festival looks, taking inspiration from the runways where crotchet was plentiful in the form of vacation-ready maxi dresses and fringed capes partnered with western- style boots. Salvatore Ferragamo’s forest green mini dress, paired with barely-there sandals, screamed summer beach-day, while Ulla Johnson offered a festival-worthy coral-pink sleeveless blouse.
To claim that the SS20 runways were trendless at the end of a list of trends would quite obviously be entirely contradictory, but there were nonetheless a number of shows for which that can be said, at least to some extent. As brands attempt to juggle the ‘less is more’ mentality as an antidote to excess, designers such as Celine, Prada and Bottega Veneta unveiled more stripped back, streamlined collections, offering a showcase of silhouettes that lend themselves to reinterpretation season after season.