With another season of fashion weeks drawing to a close, and despite the somewhat sombre mood that swept the fashion capitals from New York to Paris, the Autumn/Winter 2020 catwalks offered plenty of food for thought on how to get dressed come next autumn, with a wealth of trends unfolding fresh off the runway.
Leather is a winter wardrobe mainstay season after season, but a plethora of AW20 collections explored new styles and silhouettes. Coach offered a lesson is layering leather, with colour-blocked leather culottes, midi-skirts and button-down shirts worn under pastel cardigans, oversized trench coats and shearling jackets. Hermès horse-jumping-inspired show featured supple leather ensembles in buttery shades, while Gabriela Hearst’s foray into leather came in the form of a caramel-coloured puff-sleeve leather dress.
Fringing appeared in generous measures on the catwalks at all four fashion weeks but was particularly prevalent in Milan, where pleats were chopped up into fringe at Prada and Salvatore Ferragamo coated black dresses with golden trimmings, while Boss and Jil Sander sent iterations of silk-fringed evening dresses down their respective runways. At Bottega Veneta, Daniel Lee – arguably the most celebrated designer in the industry today – unveiled myriad shredded designs, with dresses finished with acidic lime green tassels and an updated take on the brand’s coveted woven pouch bag featuring exaggerated fringe.
The outerwear option du jour, billowing capes were ubiquitous across the four cities, with generously-cut shapes bringing a sense of sartorial drama to the catwalks. Michael Kors championed blanket dressing with an abundance of cashgora cape coats served up in cosy fabrics and warming winter colour palettes, while at JW Anderson knitted capes and layers of tinsel-trimming belled out from the shoulders of dresses.
The collective infatuation among designers for checks was unfading this season, manifesting itself in abundant iterations of tartan, gingham and heritage checks. In New York, Claudia Li’s translucent vinyl pleated-midi and blazer combination came in punchy pink gingham, while Monse dipped into mismatched tartan with skirts secured by safety pins and worn with punkish lace-up boots. Across the Atlantic at London Fashion Week, Burberry returned to its roots with remixed heritage checks in innovative cuts, and Shrimps gave the print a regal touch in a potent orange, pink and green colourway.
Brown is the new black – at least according to the AW20 runways. Chocolatey shades are solidifying their place in the sartorial stratosphere, firmly entrenching their place in the palette of neutrals that have dominated the catwalks and streets for the past few seasons. Chocolate-coloured outerwear seems to be emerging as an autumn/winter wardrobe essential, tackled with aplomb at Victoria Beckham and Emilia Wickstead, while A.W.A.K.E Mode offered a quilted velvet version with an exaggerated collar. At Jil Sander, a bell-sleeved leather shirt with matching pants was rendered head-to-toe in the shade, while Christopher Kane swathed a pleated bra-dress from the chest down in the sweet hue.
An affluent array of designers paid homage to equestrian style and turning out bourgeois tailoring this season, with Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski’s show for Hermès plunging into the brand’s heritage for a show centred entirely around the sport. Elsewhere, Hedi Slimane continued his three-season-running ode to the ‘70s bourgeois French girl at Celine, in the form of equestrian-style knee-high boots, horse-bit belts and gold-chain accessories, this time injected with a bohemian edge, meanwhile Shrimps’ regal-inspired show was populated with tartan Victorian jackets worn with riding pants and silk foulards.
A certain darkness hung over the collections at Valentino – where floods of black replaced last season’s explosions of colour – and Anna Sui – whose horror film-inspired collection gave way to burnout velvet and vampire-esque leather – as if to reflect the sombre shadow over fashion week of the Coronavirus crisis and the ongoing conversation around fashion’s negative impact on the environment. Showgoers at Paco Rabanne witnessed a procession of decadent embellishment, ornate tapestry dresses and a play on dress as armour in the form of chain-mail dresses in a collection that explored medieval dress codes. At Rodarte, gothic glam met romanticism in eerily beautiful silhouettes that married dark energy with delicate details from puff sleeves and tiered ruffles to floral-print silks and embroidery.
The runways were equally awash iridescence and sparkling ensembles to lift the winter mood and see us through the party season. Rejina Pyo gave high-sheen glamour an office-attire twist, pairing a pearly puff-shouldered blouse with a sleek wool midi-skirt and knee-high boots. Others presented an inundation of red carpet-appropriate attire and party-ready bedazzled ball gowns – Julien Dossena reinterpreted Paco Rabanne’s signature chain-mail silhouette with a thread of fantastical glamour; Erdem injected a dose of 1920s glam into a silver dress decorated with tiered embroidery; and Halpern wrapped models in shimmering metallics with statement sleeves.
Words by Ruby McAuliffe
Graphics by Katie Janes
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