FALL/WINTER 2019 SAW DESIGNERS BOTH REINFORCING HERITAGE CODES AND CHARTING BRAVE COURSES FORWARD, CREATING CLOTHES THAT ADDRESSED THE REALITIES OF MODERN LIFE WHILE SOARING TO NEW FASHION HEIGHTS.
This season might be all about ’70s bourgeois chic but Nicolas Ghesquière has always been an avowed ’80s fanboy. The fashions of the era were polarising—loved and loathed in equal measure—so it seemed fitting that Ghesquière would erect the equally polarising façade of the Centre Pompidou in the Louvre to frame his latest collection. The clothes were an homage to the decade with faces framed by sculptural ruffles, oversized lapels or crystal-encrusted neckerchief collars. Skirts were short with flippy hems, and shoulders and sleeves were of statement-making proportions—all grounded by flat boots and shoes for a decidedly modern attitude.
Karl Lagerfeld’s final Fendi collection was filled with plenty of the signatures he established over five decades at the Roman House. Structured pagoda shoulders, rigorous tailoring and starched high collars were all hallmarks of his precise hand, and when paired with scarlet lips, shellacked hair and A-line skirts, effortlessly evoked ’40s Hollywood glamour. Lagerfeld made the looks resonate for today by grounding them with pointy-toed boots; adding brilliant jolts of colour such as aquamarine and the iconic Fendi yellow; and layering pieces over stockings and bodysuits covered in double-F Karligraphy—guaranteed collectibles and street-style bait. Perforation, see-through layers and swishing pleats added further touches of lightness and modernity.
In less than two years, Clare Waight Keller has steered Givenchy towards an elegance that’s closer to the aristocratic spirit of its House founder. Her latest collection further reinforced this vision, starting with cinched suits featuring pronounced shoulders that were either sculpted and rounded, or padded and angular. Balancing the strict suiting were micro-pleated dresses printed with tiny florals, the flounced hems and cuffs adding a charming youthfulness to the modest silhouettes. Puffed sleeves the size of wings brought couture-level drama, but cut in crinkly taffeta and worn with trousers, Waight Keller maintained a decidedly contemporary air of effortlessness.
Women’s empowerment has become a key pillar of Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Dior. And she has pretty much established a formula for her ready-to-wear shows: She often works within the framework of a feminist message by an inspirational artist or author, with said message reiterated on a t-shirt, and complemented by lovely, ladylike clothes that are designed to be worn by real women with real-life needs. Hence, feminist artist Tomaso Binga’s seminal naked alphabet series lining the walls at her show and an opening look featuring the slogan “Sisterhood Is Global”, lifted from the title of activist Robin Morgan’s 1984 feminist anthology. The Dior woman continued to advance this cause in bodysuits, over which they threw soft Bar jackets or boxy buffalo-checked jackets, full skirts or sheer tulle, bustier tops or slim cashmere knits—all topped off by veiled bucket hats that marry the sporty with the sophisticated.
Our collective cultural nostalgia for everything ’90s has brought grunge back to the forefront of the fashion conversation, though Donatella Versace is probably the last designer you’d expect to take on the thrift-store aesthetic. Of course, with Versace being the house of gilt and glitz, Donatella’s take on grunge came underpinned with a heavy dose of glamour. There were more furs than there were flannels, and the haphazard layers of the Courtney Love look here were composed of silks and crystal mesh. Holey knits were pierced with giant gold safety-pins—an ingenious way to update a house signature and believably work it into the collection. Leather harnesses added another distinctively Versace touch. The parts of the collection that pivoted back into full-on glam—the bronze crystal mesh column, the croc-stamped slip, the slinky black gown that closed the show—were equally compelling.
It was the most anticipated debut of the season and Daniel Lee did not disappoint. Those who expected Phoebe Philo’s former protégé to take on the mantle of old Céline were in for a pleasant surprise. Yes, there was the awkwardly proportioned (and therefore appealingly chic) footwear as well as geometric, clean-lined bags but overall, Lee brought a darker, more dynamic edge to a House that leaned towards retro under his predecessor. Still, Lee’s not a radical. His updated vision of Milanese chic was a departure from Tomas Maier’s brand of glamour but it was still respectful of the House’s heritage. The intrecciato weave of the brand’s iconic bags was blown up and transposed onto ready-to-wear. Glamour was still there in the form of leopard spots and sequins, but cut into easy daywear shapes like shirtdresses. Most compelling were the knits—artfully deconstructed, twisted and draped into alluring new forms.
At Chanel’s first show since Karl Lagerfeld’s passing, the mood was poignant, but blended with a sense of uplift. The audience at the Grand Palais was transported to Alpine heights, seated among charming Chanel chalets, while the collection presented was a fresh, energetic take on classic Chanel codes. Opening with soft trouser suits swathed in long coats with wide lapels, it was a wintertime continuation of the easy, breezy spirit he presented at the Chanel seaside last season. Options for Chanel die-hards included: Après-ski knits, a new take on tweed (short skirts over long shorts), ruffled organza blouses, searing colours on classical skirt suits and brilliant winter whites.
This season, Burch looked to Black Mountain College and its liberal arts as a starting point. The first look out—a structured coat with gold angular toggles offset with a colour-blocked bag—set the quietly artsy tone before asymmetric knife pleats with concealed graphics, beribboned bell sleeves cuffed in velvet, patchwork trimmed with paillettes and mismatched earrings continued to amplify the poetic beauty of Burch’s artistic inspirations. A balance of structured shapes and flowing lines ensured that the visual elements complemented, rather than clashed with, one another.
One year on, the Moncler Genius universe has expanded with new additions like Matthew Williams of 1017 Alyx 9SM and Richard Quinn. The former brought his haute streetwear edge, while the latter reinterpreted his couture shapes in the brand’s signature down. Amongst the returning collaborators, standouts include Simone Rocha, whose romantic silhouettes were both pretty and protective; Craig Green, whose inventive, sculptural creations can be flat-packed into tiny squares; and Pierpaolo Piccioli, who brought in Liya Kebede in order to enlist her Lemlem craftspeople for their brilliant patterns.
With a menswear show in January that took love as its theme but Frankenstein’s monster as its main trope, Miuccia Prada showed the world that she’s the master of duality and juxtaposition, all delivered with a left-field visual punch. She pushed that same train of thought even deeper for her womenswear show, this time with the bride of Frankenstein putting in a cameo. One might expect a collection titled “The Anatomy of Romance” to be filled with sweetness and light, but subversion has always been a Prada speciality. The overall vibe was militaristic, with heavy-duty combat boots worn with everything from olive fatigues to sheer lace dresses. Certain silhouettes evoked Mid-century couture but came sculpted in padded nylon and sturdy, sombre wool. The most overt nods to romance were flowers but here, even they were drooping and decayed—wilting off skirts, dresses and bags.
Sophie Delafontaine has always set out to create versatile separates that women can integrate into their existing wardrobes and deploy interchangeably as needed. This season, on a carpeted runway that evoked the aisles of the legendary Concorde, Delafontaine sent out a collection that spoke of the jet-set and the golden age of travel. Her destination? The high-octane ’80s and the bohemian ’70s. Breezy boho-chic came through in the shaggy faux furs, as well as the pussybow blouses and retro printed dresses cinched with tan leather belts and set atop knee-high boots. On the ’80s end of the equation were the studded black leathers, flippy miniskirts, small waists paired with big shoulders, leopard bodysuits and the Stephen Sprouse-influenced LGP monogram.
Jonathan Anderson’s past few collections have shown an emergence of a more grown-up sensibility. This latest Loewe collection might be his most restrained and focused yet, making it highly covetable. At its core were thoughtfully considered clothes elevated by the kind of rich, artisanal craftsmanship that Anderson has so artfully woven into the fabric of Loewe’s essence. Dresses that started as cable knit or leather on top might seamlessly end as cotton linen, silk satin or fur below—showcasing Anderson’s knack for making intricate craft look easy. There was a tinsel skirt corded to a black leather waist, paired with the simplest chic white blouse; and a sweater entirely encrusted in pearls, but worn offhandedly with wide indigo jeans. Mouse-eared hats added touches of whimsy and levity.
A hundred thousand flashing lights served as backdrop, one moment illuminating the clothes with extreme clarity, the next leaving the audience almost blinded. It was a fitting metaphor for the idea Alessandro Michele decided to explore—one of identity, what we choose to conceal from the world, and what we reveal. Hence the motif of masks, and Michele revelled in all the connotations of kink, horror and celebration associated with this device of disguise. On one hand, there were spiked collars and harnesses; on the other, gold-plated earpieces, face shields and breastplates. As for the clothes, it was a still a maximalist affair but there was also a newer sense of restraint. In what has become a key trend, tailoring was a highlight. Michele made his stand out via inventive experiments in shape and proportion, with extra-wide legs cinched at the cuffs for a ballooning effect, and fat ties tucked into ultra-high waists.
For fall/winter 2019, Ian Griffiths brought back ’80s power dressing. This translated into sharp tailoring in generous proportions with supersized shoulders. The rigour was softened by lush, tactile materials that brought warmth to a mostly neutral palette that was occasionally broken up by primary brights and animal prints. Thigh-high boots in glossy embossed croc provided a glamorous counterpoint to the mannish tailoring, while the addition of oversized utility pockets allowed women to forgo bags. Harness-style options expanded on the hands-free theme—a clever solution for modern, multitasking women. For a House famed for its iconic coats, the outerwear on offer was sensational, from teddy-bear and trench styles to dusters, robes and capes.
Staying true to House codes, leather reigned supreme, emerging in a variety of silhouettes, finishes and dyes. From structured but supple Napa trenches to feather-light dresses, the artisans gave the clothing a luminosity usually only seen in high shine patent leather pieces. Of course, one would expect nothing less from an Italian brand steeped in modern sophistication. The colour palette was warm and refined: Shades of black, caramel and ivory intermingled with brushes of powder pink, bottle green, and burgundy, all executed in leather with finesse. Where there wasn’t leather, there were fuzzy wool coats, Mediterranean-inspired jacquard knits and checked trenches belted with Tod’s identifiable double-T clasp, tied together with multiple versions of the D-styling bag, an ode to the late Princess Diana’s legendary chic.
KATE SPADE NEW YORK
Nicola Glass took to the runway for the second time with a collection that was as true to the brand’s original codes as it was a distillation of her own vision. She evoked the eclectic ’70s with vibrantly coloured pantsuits in high-waisted and flare-legged silhouettes, colour-blocked denim, and leopard prints on flowy midi dresses and pea coats. Throughout her lineup, Glass infused the brand’s trademark colour show with her own refined restraint—punchy pink and purple hues were interjected with deeper jewel tones or, less frequently, grounded with neutrals. The accessories were desirable in their simplicity—models donned silky turbans and knee-high lace-up boots, strutting down the runway with bags doubled up for both utility and style.
CELINE BY HEDI SLIMANE
Hedi Slimane may be one of the most divisive designers of our time, but he is also certainly one of the most influential. Everything he does reverberates through fashion and trickles into the mainstream—which is why an abrupt about-face from him is particularly noteworthy. If the latest CELINE show is any indication, we will soon be dressing like our mothers circa the ’70s. After a sharp and sexy debut that received equal parts flak and adulation for looking nothing like “the old Céline”, Slimane pivoted to old, old Céline—as in, Vipiana, the House founder. Staying true to the archives, he turned out a collection filled with desirable bourgeois separates—culottes, knee-length skirts and high boots worn with pussybow blouses, tweed jackets, tailored blazers, capes and camel coats. Of course, a closer look still revealed plenty of Slimane-isms, from shrunken jackets to party-girl sequins and rock-star shades.
As he did for his expansive debut, Riccardo Tisci once again presented more than a hundred looks covering every facet of Britishness—from the club kids to the country-house set. However, this time around, he flipped the order, showing the street-oriented looks of the bright young things first, before segueing into everything prim, posh and beige.
The set of the presentation reflected this duality, with half the audience seated in a Brutalist concrete section and the other half ensconced in honey-hued wood. The first part of the show saw a riff on the uniforms of London subcultures in decades past—’90s tracksuits, raver brights, puffer jackets and bootleg Burberry checks, glammed up by crystals, corsets and lacy little slips. For the sophisticates, Tisci proposed neat skirt suits in warm shades of camel and chocolate worn under classic Burberry trenches; the clean lines occasionally broken by ladylike pleats and handkerchief hems.
Now that the era of disco glamour is firmly back in the consciousness of pop culture, Kors has decided to add to the conversation by revisiting his halcyon days at Studio 54. He even secured the rights to the logos, which he embroidered onto sequinned t-shirt dresses, embellished on puffers and printed on silk blouses. The rest of the collection was an exuberant, extravagant celebration of Studio 54 style at its most glittering, decadent height. There were slinky slips, spangled dresses, feather trims, feather boas as well as lamé and Lurex galore. Other period-specific details Kors resurrected included faux fur chubbies, fringed bags, towering platforms, turbans and berets.
Stuart Vevers built Coach on a rose-tinted view of Americana, establishing signatures like sweeping prairie dresses and pretty, playful prints, but the past few seasons have seen things taking a darker and tougher turn. In line with that mood, the first look out this season was a sleeveless shearling coat worn over boyish basketball shorts. A sharply cut suit followed soon after, along with low-slung trousers and more of those baggy shorts. A collaboration with textile artist Kaffe Fassett—whose trippy prints defined the psychedelic ’70s—yielded lush painterly florals, which looked smashing on diaphanous layers contrasted against plaids, checks and the brand’s C-logo.
The classical, haute bourgeois look may have been a running trend this season, but it has always been Hermès’ calling card. For fall/winter 2019, Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski proposed slim, body-skimming (but not constricting) silhouettes that hit right below the knee, worn over knee-high boots with just the right amount of slouch. It was a modern update on the Belle de Jour aesthetic—polished and buttoned-up on the surface but with an undercurrent of sensuality, reinforced by the abundance of black leather in the collection.
Given that the Maison’s savoir-faire with leatherwork is unparalleled, the leather pieces were particularly strong—whether they were the pencil skirts paired with printed silk blouses, the leather shorts adding a youthful flair or the full leather suits that managed to be both rigorous and sensual. Outerwear was also a highlight, with minimal shapes made texturally and visually rich with surface effects and the addition of oversized pockets and D-ring belts.
SAINT LAURENT BY ANTHONY VACCARELLO
In a season where powerful tailoring has been the name of the game, Anthony Vaccarello’s suits for Saint Laurent still managed to stand head and shoulders above the rest—often times, quite literally. Vaccarello evoked the eternal chic of YSL muse Betty Catroux in the first look, with sleek precision tailoring undercut by a dash of Left Bank cool and insouciant sex appeal. Shoulders were blown up wide with everything underneath kept skin-tight or even skin-baring.
It was a testament to his skill that those statement shoulders never veered into comical linebacker proportions, and instead maintained the sophisticated allure that is Saint Laurent’s calling card. Offsetting the more mannish pieces were his signature sparkling mini dresses, opulent Moroccan-inflected embroidery and, finally, a spectacular electric neon finale of sculptural bows and fluttering feathers.
DIANE VON FURSTENBERG
This season, Diane von Furstenberg was focused on simplifying the daily affair of dressing for the professional woman who wears many hats. This manifested in a collection of versatile building-block pieces made for easy mixing and matching. Not to be mistaken for basics, these pieces were chock-full of signature DVF zest, with botanical, graffiti-inspired, and colourful paisley prints aplenty. The collection’s mainstays were easy jersey-silk dresses of the slip, shirt, and wrap variety, and office-ready separates; all designed with smart layering in mind to allow multiple outfits to be put together with the same pieces. For a dose of whimsy, one wrap dress sported a photo print spun together from newspaper clippings about the brand, paying homage to the hallmark silhouette that heralded von Furstenberg’s arrival in fashion 45 years ago.
After a Prada showing in Milan that riffed on the ladylike shapes and tropes of Mid-century haute couture, Miuccia Prada skewed her latest Miu Miu collection in a much more girlish direction. On the runway were sheer skirts and blouses, short shorts, tiered dresses, ruffled necklines, cherry blossom prints and crystal mesh collars. The mood was definitely youthful but twee it was not. This season’s Miu Miu girls are not fairytale princesses living in a fantasy world; instead, they are very much equipped for the realities of our current climate. On their feet were fierce lug-soled combat boots; on their shoulders, sturdy wool capes whooshing almost all the way to the floor in a way that spoke of protection. Alternatively, Prada draped them in granddad cardigans, or a wide array of camouflage hoodies, coats and faux furs. Satin pumps, strappy sandals and glitter heels added fashion magic to the militant mix.
After the grandiose sets of the past couple of seasons—the psychedelic tunnel, the graffiti snow mountain—Demna Gvasalia pivoted to something a lot more minimal this season. The collection reflected this shift, opening with streamlined tailoring for both men and women—no outrageous Instagram fodder here; instead, a grown-up proposition of clothes meant to be worn on the streets. To underscore this, Gvasalia laid his set with fresh asphalt—even though this was hardly visible from the runway images alone. Equally subtle were the minute manipulations signalling the technical mastery that went into the collection, such as shoulder seams sculpted and pinched to stand away from the body. Other quietly inventive details included circular hoop necklines, lapels extended to the ears, buttonless blazers, and hoodie-shawl hybrids—the last a particularly clever take on an established Gvasalia signature.
Last season’s show was an evening extravaganza at Central Park, befitting the 50th anniversary of an American behemoth. This season, Ralph Lauren switched things up with a charming, intimate breakfast show. Over coffee and croissants, guests like Karlie Kloss and Rosie Huntington-Whitely took in the most classic of American sportswear. Silhouettes were fluid, and palettes largely kept to black and white with a smattering of gold and sequins to jazz things up. Daywear had a touch of the nautical, often built atop a base of wide-legged trousers cinched high at the waist with slim gold belts. Eveningwear was also pared-back in shape—though not in detail—with most gowns coming in column, slip and t-shirt silhouettes. Lauren also presented a smashing evening alternative—a white tuxedo that echoed Glenn Close’s winning look at the SAG Awards.
For fall/winter 2019, the Bally creative team dove deep into their Swiss heritage by tapping an archival Alpine logo from the ’50s for inspiration—fitting for a brand famed for its luxurious take on winter basics and technical gear. From the vintage-feeling sweaters, to leather ponchos edged with laser-cut lace, to shearling puffers with contrast-coloured zig-zag lining, the collection juxtaposed cheery brights and sweet sorbet tones against nostalgic motifs like Swiss crosses, old mountain map prints and pixelated embroidery of tiny skiers. These rustic touches added a charming softness to a collection dipped in ’90s sportswear references. Finely crafted ski and down jackets along with sturdy knits accessorised with chunky climbing boots and shearling winter caps added a utilitarian note that spoke to contemporary tastes.
As newly promoted Creative Director, Paul Andrew proved his deftness with the main pillars of the House—namely, shoes and leather. The former category boasted stunning variety, ranging from sneakers to stacked boots and everything in between. For the latter, supple skins were rendered in lush shades such as forest green, petrol blue, and Bordeaux; and cut into easy pieces like pyjamas, anoraks and jumpsuits. Ease was the overriding mood, with elements of blanket dressing peppered throughout, and coats taking the form of plush leather robes. Even the opening pinstriped tailored number was deconstructed and softened. Patchwork was another key motif, with archival scarf prints pieced and spliced together on fluid dresses and skirts, while several leather coats and shirts came panelled in other materials.
Dolce&Gabbana shows are usually campy spectacles filled with celebrities, celebrity offspring, and influencers; often focused on a single facet of Italian-ness—religion, food, postcard-perfect destinations—interpreted in a multitude of playful ways. This time, they dialled back on the theatricality to riff on the format of an old-school couture presentation complete with a narrator describing the looks as they paraded past.
The collection itself was divided into clear segments corresponding to the different needs of their clients. First up was tailoring in mannish proportions, followed by boudoir-inspired dressing gowns, baby-doll dresses and pyjama sets. These were closely followed by a checklist of Dolce&Gabbana signatures and best-sellers—from vampy leopard prints and lush florals, to monochrome polka-dots, opulent brocades and sensuous black lace.
Pierpaolo Piccioli continued his collaboration with Undercover’s Jun Takahashi, who provided the season’s central motif of kissing lovers overlaid with roses. Expanding on both the concepts of love and partnership, Piccioli also invited four poets to work on an anthology, Valentino On Love, from which lines were plucked and then printed or embroidered onto linings, between layers, or inside sleeves—secret love messages from the wearer to her own self. Individuality has been a recent obsession for Piccioli and here he hammered home the message with a collection of incredible breadth. On the youthful spectrum, ultra-leggy pieces in trapeze shades—vibrant pops of tangerine, fuchsia and buttercup; and fluttering layers of tulle. On the polished end were fluid, decorous silhouettes extending all the way to mid-calf or the floor, exuding an almost monastic elegance.
Jeremy Scott’s latest spectacle was a high-camp commentary on our increasingly consumerist times. The set was a send-up of The Price Is Right, the iconic American game show, with models placed on revolving platforms alongside a bevy of consumer goods. The first looks out featured prints of million-dollar bills while others were embellished with gold dollar signs. The collection itself was a riff on ’80s extravagance, filled with metallic leathers, padded shoulders, riotous prints, ruffles cascading down one-shouldered dresses and colourful stones. In usual Scott fashion, accessories were tongue-in-cheek visual puns—bags in the form of hair dryers, detergent bottles, toothpaste tubes and cash registers. Gobs of gigantic costume jewels and overblown bouffants added glam to camp.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING: CHANDREYEE RAY AND NAVIN PILLAY.
PHOTOGRAPHY: 123RF.COM; SHOWBIT; TPGVIP/CLICK PHOTOS AND COURTESY OF THE BRANDS