I love springtime, don’t you? It’s my favourite season of all, the crisp warm air (if you’re not living inIreland, of course!), the chance to finally pull the wedges out of the back of the wardrobe again and of course, the fashion.
Fashionistas across the globe flocked to their city of choice, or all four if they were lucky, to watch some of the most famous models and the most talented designers in the industry showcase their new collections.
New York Fashion Week was first on the agenda, as always. From September 8-16, a plethora of stars and fashion junkies flooded the Big Apple to see what styles we’ll be relying on next season. Jason Wu was first on the agenda and he definitely turned this season’s trends on its head. With so many designers sticking to a safe black, next spring will be full of colour. Getting rid of the drab and earthy colours, Wu used chartreuse and pink sleeveless dresses with crafted pants in black, grey and white. He also used a monochrome floral print, which he created in collaboration with KAWS, the artist. Wu created beautiful contrasts with his very articulated waistlines with full flowing skirts and it’s safe to say his collection for next season is both on-trend and wearable, he made even a windbreaker look fashionable. But the real surprise was with his eveningwear collection creating dresses fitted to the waist with flowing tiered skirts. Wu wowed the star-studded audience with the rich jewel-coloured creations sweeping along the white tiled runway.
Sporting her post-childbirth slender frame, Victoria Beckham was back on form. Although she took a different slant on her collection last season, having some slightly roomier dresses perhaps inspired by her own needs, but her eye for detail and luxury were second to none and next season is no different. The sleek frames of her collections always make her shows a hard act to follow but this season she out-did herself. Her use of corsets and colour blocking created dresses so sharp, you could get a cut just looking at them. The pieces were very versatile and could transcend from office to cocktail party with no problem whatsoever. Sticking to her usual demure colours, a lot of pieces were shown in navy and sable but there were little eye-catching splashes of bright colour to make the concept more interesting. She also experimented with sportswear and her use of Stephen Jones designed baseball caps with Christian Louboutin’s was new and inspired. This collection shows Beckham has shown love, attention and curiosity for the human form and has created a line that is both understated but elegant.
The iconic Vera Wang never fails to disappoint and the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ inspired line, sher created this season, although very 2010, was brought right back into the forefront of American fashion. Although creating something completely different, she’s stuck to the idea of the jaw-dropping dresses, bridal gowns and the general fairytale-like musings her beautiful designs so idiosyncratic. Some of the looks had a sporty but Victorian look (if that makes any sense!) and began at the start of the show as pristine white which moved slowly through a kaleidoscope of colour and abstract beauty. There were hoods and drawstrings on jackets and with short shorts added a very athletic edge to an otherwise feminine design with frills and gossamer. There was a little indication back to the fetish-trend of Autumn/Winter 2011 with corsets and bodices but mostly the collection was a mixture of ethereality and tailoring, which combined the two in one. Although the overall experience had its quirks, such as the melody of an antique music box aiding the models down the catwalk, the majority of the clothes are original but very wearable.
With New Yorkall fashioned out, it was time for London Fashion Week to shine from September 16-21. And by god, it sure did. With their big attitudes, Australian accents and love for fashion, Sass and Bide certainly brightened up our spirits when there was otherwise quite dull and dreary weather outside. Held in the glass atrium of the Royal Opera House, they brought some of that Aussie sunshine with their fiery collection. There were bright orange tunics and tribal style shorts and dresses that looked like rubber, embellished with neon yellow. Heidi Middleton and Sarah Jane Clarke, the creators of the company wanted to contradict our ideas of fashion by mixing geometric designs with draping polka dots, or their trademark matte black shimmer with metallics.
Expect to be seeing the duo’s gorgeous design work a lot more around Londonin the spring! Jonathan Saunders, fashions cool kid, had a certain triumph at his show, for the second season running, was labelled ‘Show of the Week’ before Day Two even finished. The audience were awash with his paisley and multicolour designs from Autumn/Winter 2011 and he didn’t disappoint for next season. His first dress on the runway caused a stir, as although it was sleeveless and beautifully tailored, it was very demure and refined, sexy in a very classical way. He created silky PJ tops and bottoms with prints and polka dots, and summer coats in bright colours. Saunders breaks all the rules with fashion, and gets away with it so well; you have to love him for it. His collection was teamed with multicoloured Louboutin platform espadrilles and the longing for summer has started with all of us looking at his collection. His models had just a flick of Amy Winehouse eyeliner and messy ponytails, and this whole essence of cool just oozes through what is going to be a fabulous season.
Mary Katrantzou was always a star on the rise when she starred in London Fashion Weeks in the past and this season was no different. With a catwalk covered in yellow, pink and red carnations, the anticipation of a bright colourful show was upon us before it even started. Her exquisite cocktail dresses featured every possible print one could want on one piece of fabric and left trails of chiffon, one would think it were chaos but it was beautiful chaos. Mismatched prints were the order of the day and she exaggerated them even more by using pearls, contrasting jewels and iridescent colour to muscle her way to the front of the pack to create a feast of colour. Katrantzou used the same print on everything from sweatshirts and knit dress, to leggings and trouser suits. But the best moment of all, was when her signature cocktail dress made an appearance, the stiffened, sculpted Ming vase-esque dress that makes it all worth it, and that moment where everyone thinks to themselves, ‘this is why we love fashion’. Her finale dress made of tin cans and metal flowers was the stuff of legends. It truly defines the pride and love of women designers, especially British ones and it seemed worthy of a museum as well as a catwalk. All we can say to that is ’Bravo, Mary!’
Then it was onto possibly the most fashionable and expensive capital in the world for Milan Fashion Week. The streets are paved like a catwalk for some of the most stunningly beautiful people from around the globe, and more appeared for the most popular week of their year. Raf Simons created a beautiful line of pure simplicity for Jil Sander for next season that would be perfect for the beautifulMilan spring weather, and makes us wish our dull British weather was just the same! He started with white linen collarless dresses layered over each other to create fewer translucencies, some buttoned up to the top and others had little brooches as the back. The structure of the outfits was very sharp and tailored. He then brought paisley back into his designs on the very demure shapes, which had shredded surfaces. He has created very wearable outfits, shorts with blazers and dresses with low backs. Simons, like Beckham at New York Fashion Week, used Stephen Jones hats with a Fifties feel to them. He created mesh tube dresses and punctured leather jackets and shorts. 50 Cent was caterwauling about sweetshops as the models strutted down the catwalk with attitude and Picasso’s face was put on the front of knitted sweaters which were teamed with tailored trousers in blue and white gingham. The last dresses were a showstopper and a return to dazzling white, with a strapless dress with a full white skirt worth of a bride and a row of ballooning cotton floor-length dresses.
Nina Ricci, a line that wouldn’t be in the forefront of fashion except for their infamous and beautifully designed ‘Catwoman’ ads, made a splash at this year’s Fashion Week. A design label who hasn’t tried to be an iconic fashion house, but only want to make beautifully designed and quality clothing, Peter Copping has been trying the make the line into a household name. The collection this season was a great success and was very commercial. There was a definite mixture of decades and fabrics and also a couple of things clashed, it was full of inspiration. There were bra tops with full Fifties skirts, pencil skirts and ruched satin dresses, brocade princess coats and cocktail dresses. Everything was playful, just like their ad campaigns and there was a plethora of chiffon, short sleeved leather jackets and prints that felt both vintage and new, inspired by the Russian artist Zina de Plagny. The more modern fabrics followed after with wool coat dresses, lace cardigans and dresses embroidered with silk flowers and gold leaves. There was a brawl between sexy dresses and romantic dresses in reds, lilac and navy and there were wicker birdcage hats which brought the Forties back to the table. He mightn’t be trying to make a fashion icon from the house but he’s certainly having fun.
The Sunrise Birds show from Missoni was very serene and calm compared to the Dolce and Gabbana show ahead of it but it was by no means less fun. The key next summer is free spirit, charming and spontaneous. In a different twist to Emilio Pucci’s gypsy-inspired clothing, Margharita Missoni went with a more Spanish/flamenco style twist with frills on everything, necklines, hips, edges, they were everywhere. There were copious amounts of blue hues at every end off the spectrum. There were knits in bright yellows that hung loosely on the bias. There was a vague cowboy/western theme as well, with tassels and handkerchief hems layered many at a time. There colours reflected the party girl illusion Missoni wanted to create, using eye-watering colours, magentas, limes, oranges and greens. The shoes and bags weren’t outshone though, with the shoes mad with heels of plexiglass and plastic flowers, and of course the accessories were huge! If you’re a free spirit or a hippie chick at heart, watch this space, Missoni inspired designs will be EVERYWHERE next season!
Paris Fashion Week was last on the agenda, but anything but least! Miu Miu took a teenage vampire theme on board this season which immensely excited the audience. It was Twilight meets Little red Riding Hood as the models strolled down the catwalk in capes, little dresses and red eyeshadow. The whole line was very girly, a theme that went on during the week but this radiated innocence with cloaks tied with ribbon.It was almost like a little girl dressing up n her mother’s clothes, with grey A-line skirts, pointed velvet mules and short handled handbags. Miu Miu also had a sexier side this season. There were purple A-line dresses cut low to show a contrasting blue bra, there were beautiful lace dresses accompanied by satin coats in pink and blue with a gathering of smocking around the shoulders. We were also treated to a collection of coats and dresses sewn in a patchwork form that summed up the pyjama trend from the week. Miuccia Prada certainly proved that even after a month of fashion shows, she could still breathe some fresh air and life into her collection.
All eyes were on Alexander McQueen this season as it’s the first collection Sarah Burton had done since the Royal Wedding, and only the third since she took over from her mentor and friend, Lee McQueen. But she didn’t let the pressure get to her and she put on a beautiful display. She manages to use his trademarks in he designs but give it a certain lightness. There was exquisite corseting, tailoring, the lace facial coverings, everything screamed Alexander McQueen, yet there was a certain softness about it that Burton has brought to the table. The show began with nude skirt suits that had gold tassel hemlines and exaggerated shoulders. From there, it blended into lavender, with froths of chiffon, the pale pinks and corals having an odd effect on the way we saw the models against the creepy lace masks. Then there were tight silhouettes, created with swathes of nude material and leather, and bodies with trains of mother of pearl, as others had shells growing up the body. The aquatic theme was very strong throughout the show and created a beautiful world that we could be part of. Every show that has been run since McQueen’s death had been a celebration of talent thanks to Burton and that doesn’t look likely to change soon.
There was bound to be a frenzy around the Dior show this season with it being the first show since John Galliano’s shameful departure from the design house. There was less than enthusiastic clapping at the beginning of the show but Bill Gaytten, Galliano’s former right-hand-man and in lieu of an official announcement will be the new creative director, showed us what he could do. The eveningwear was very light and frothy, perhaps in keeping of the aquatic/prince theme that has been running through fashion weeks around the world for the Spring/Summer 2012 season. It was very easy to imagine all the looks on the red carpet, but could it have been played too safe? It seemed so, as with only a few lights around the catwalk, his show was a far cry from the theatrical productions that Galliano used to host. The collection seemed very plain and grown up, with full skirts and ‘boat-necked’ collars, with collarless jackets; this is nothing to write home to mother about. There were full tweed coats and leather Stephen Jones hats (popular man!) but there was no fun and liberties taken with the Fifties glamour. There was a strong use of leather, but not in the fetish way that Galliano himself and used for the Autumn/Winter 2011 collection. The eveningwear was its one saving grace, again yards of chiffon, giving a very romantic, ethereal quality to the catwalk. Overall, although Gaytten’s designs were beautiful, they were nothing compared to the larger than life Galliano.
Well I don’t know about you but all that fashion has just about tired me out! It’s barely autumn yet, although you’d never know by the weather, and I’m already planning and craving my spring wardrobe. I’ll be in Budapest for the spring and am hoping that the beautiful spring months will reach that far before too long, until then I’ll be wearing my fur coat and boots! The collections for the coming season have given us something to really think about, although the world can sometimes be against us, there is always beauty in fashion and art, and the creators love for it, as we’ve clearly seen over the past four weeks. I hope you’re as excited as I am for the spring months and are already thinking of outfit choices in your heads!