7 top fashion trends of Fall/Winter 2015

One girl’s gangster Goth is another girl’s thrift-store luxe. Brace yourself for a season of diverse characters

1. The Eclectic Mix
1. The Eclectic Mix
23 Sep 2015

1. The Eclectic Mix

Gucci

Gucci’s new creative director, Alessandro Michele, is leading the fashion pack on the season’s heritage charm. Unlike the bombshell Gucci babes of yore, Michele’s Gucci girl is dreamy and emotional, charismatic and a little awkward, liberal yet conservative and above all, she’s youthful. Her curious sartorial choices alone are a smorgasbord of surplus-store treasures — menswear-inspired trouser suits to military coats, libertine blouses, chunky heirloom jewellery, estate-worthy robes, decadent fur coats and granny glasses fit for stylish erudites. Michele is chasing a sense of romance, in particular an emotion or an attitude that defines what’s beautiful and sensuous now.

One of these aesthetic choices surfaced as a gender ambiguity, where lines were surprisingly blurred between many of the men’s and women’s pieces — boys and girls both in pussycat-bow blouses and feminine lace tops? Hmm… The study of sex and androgyny continued into the collection in a subtle narrative of “the birds and the bees” — two recurring creatures that appeared embroidered to perfection on a dress, a sweater and even as a secret on the inside of a trenchcoat’s lapel. But the overall fancy of Michele’s collection was its inimitable vintage appeal developed from his personal tastes, as well as a penchant for quaint valuables with a backstory.

“I love the idea that a dress has a memory,” he told an online fashion site. In fact, one of the most fascinating elements to illustrate this peculiar notion were the “decorative” crease lines pressed onto trouser suits in areas where fold-lines would have remained if these pieces had been put into storage. A tiny afterthought? Not in Michele’s eccentric mind.
 

1. The Eclectic Mix
1. The Eclectic Mix
23 Sep 2015

1. The Eclectic Mix

Lanvin

Thanks to Alber Elbaz, there’s always a sense of exuberance and not to mention, a celebration of clothes by the brand every season. Be it high-octane glamour or tribal chic, couture-worthy craftmanship and even high-tech sportswear; Elbaz has tried, tested and done it all. He has even challenged his own design prowess by effectively cobbling these juxtaposing themes into a singular Elbaz aesthetic.

Contradictions among other inspirations, which in this case was his birthplace (Casablanca, Morocco), were all cited in this season’s fantastical bohemian mishmash. Elbaz was smitten by passementerie, a cord-and-tassel braiding commonly used to trim lavish Moroccon robes. Reinterpreting its ornamental value in his collection, Elbaz used it to enhance the seams of a flared coat, trim the waist as a crafty macramé-style belt and adorn the neck as a chunky tassel necklace. Fringing was the other decorative appeal that Elbaz dabbled in. Like the passementerie, he put it on almost every seam — the hems of blanket coats to the undersides of gloves, as well as the bias-cut seams on a dress.
 

1. The Eclectic Mix
1. The Eclectic Mix
23 Sep 2015

1. The Eclectic Mix

Valentino

Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli seem to just get better with time. Their signature prairie-style maxi-dress made minor appearances in this collection, but in its place was a special collaboration, which recalled an earlier decade when similarly ingénue-style dresses were a hit under the names of Ossie Clark and his wife, the British textile designer Celia Britwell (who provided the Valentino print).

Britwell’s partnership with the Italian designers segued from a Flower-power pre-Fall into a chinoiserie-nature — she designed a dragon motif, which now adorns a sweater and an evening dress. The design duo also paid tribute to Austrian fashion designer Emilie Flöge, the muse of famed painter Gustav Klimt. All the monochromatic kaftan-style robes and virginal smocks with frou-frou layers clearly belonged to Flöge’s personal style.
 

1. The Eclectic Mix
1. The Eclectic Mix
23 Sep 2015

1. The Eclectic Mix

Bottega Veneta

Expected the unexpected. That seems to be the diktat of Tomas Maier’s new fashion order, or should we say “disorder”?

To cut the long story short, Maier has bent the rules and introduced a beautiful chaos with his injection of oddly bright colours, bold graphics, a strong boxy silhouettes and that Seventies trouser suit. Correction: Perhaps Maier is inventing new rules, taking a chance and going with his gut instinct as opposed to relying on the safe, contrived and studied approach. A little unusual, all this sartorial bravery on Maier’s part, but look beyond that you’ll see a larger-than-life, spirited wardrobe that’s part-wild, part-classic but 100 per cent wearable. We’re positive the last part counts for a lot and frankly, swapping a plain suit for a kitschy polka-dotted one will have you papped and noticed, we promise.
 

1. The Eclectic Mix
1. The Eclectic Mix
23 Sep 2015

1. The Eclectic Mix

Saint Laurent

Siouxsie Sioux as the new Saint Laurent girl? Who would have thought? But, we’re kidding. Then again, Hedi Slimane is one of those rockstar designers where everything he touches turns to gold — so punk as the new French chic? Mais oui, bien sûr. Truth is, Slimane was simply reinterpreting his youth by way of the music storyboard and borrowed inspiration from his Fall men’s collection, which saw a tribute to the Parisian musical new guard. And in the world of cool music, there’ll always a bit of punk, a hint of glamour, a trace of folk, a whiff of grunge…

There’s no rule on sartorial genres either, or for that matter, the amount of eyeliner one should wear. So banshee eyes? Check. Slimane stirred together all genres while mindfully referencing the house signatures: There were Le Smoking suits for a Teddy Girl, a giant bow-trimmed toga dress worthy of the Monsieur Yves archives and a very special acid-trippy chubby, which we believe would have seen the late YSL of 1971 smiling and flipping the bird to the critics.
 

1. The Eclectic Mix
1. The Eclectic Mix
23 Sep 2015

1. The Eclectic Mix

Miu Miu

Miuccia Prada has redefined the term “original fake”. Picture it: Real python passing as faux because Prada coats it in the most absurd of fantastic-plastic colours? Or, croc and leopard print, fashioned from glossy patent and embossed to nearly comical, Pop Art proportions. Prada, or Mrs Prada as she prefers to be called (true!), fancies the world of bizarre opposites: The wrong is right, the posh looks better crass, the past catching up with the present, the young channelling the old…

The collection has all these opposing yet intriguing elements. Look no further than the child-women models if you need proof. Mrs Prada had them coifed to Stepford Wife perfection and slipped them into conservative, grown-up tweeds. Thus, what begun as Auntie tweed coats ended up as baby-girl pinafores and miniskirts. Then there were the pseudo-swanky wet-look animal skins, which perhaps were… Super-kawaii? If that was not enough, count the perplexity of merged eras that Mrs Prada referenced oh-so freely — from the ’40s right up to the present. Still with us?
 

2. The Modernist
2. The Modernist
23 Sep 2015

2. The Modernist

Dior

Raf Simons is taking the house of Dior into a more liberal and subversive mode with his passion for avant-garde interpretations. This season, Simons paid an homage to a leopard print that Dior himself had introduced in 1947, transforming the classically fierce feline motif into an abstract, near-psychedelic rendition, which he then plastered on jacquard catsuits. Simons has soared in confidence category from when he first set foot in the ateliers of the French house in 2012.

He’s also showed a blithe transgression of futuristic ideas coupled with his fearlessness — he even adopted a new look for Dior’s New Look while doing so. This is more pronounced now as Simons audaciously clashes le bourgeois with the upper-class: Notable examples for these attributes are the collection’s tweed pantsuit and fox-fur combi, as well as the kinky dominatrix boots paired with the modesty of an oversized masculine coat.
 

2. The Modernist
2. The Modernist
23 Sep 2015

2. The Modernist

Céline

Phoebe Philo has gone off on a tangent from her usual stark, cold, neo-minimalism and replaced it with a fun-loving spirit. A champion of her own desires, Philo, as we all know, has secured a distinct identity for the Céline brand and even describes the Céline utopia as “a practical world.” Indeed, Philo is not a fan of contrived glamour or an in-your-face sexiness. but this season has seen her rethink the notes on what could be the new chi-chi.

Exploring the facets of an “all dressed-up” Céline woman, Philo experimented with a generous amount of splendid fussiness, such as the fox fur on coats, an ingenious bustier-cut on pullovers, a touch of deconstruction (and dual-styling wit) on duvet-inspired coat-dresses and printed blouses decorated with children’s book illustrations of animals, which she paired with oversized pompon scarves. Philo lives in the glorious details, everyone.

2. The Modernist
2. The Modernist
23 Sep 2015

2. The Modernist

Marni

Consuelo Castiglioni’s reference point for her Fall collection was “twisted femininity” and she created this fierce persona of a modern warrior woman with a sense of rawness, keeping the seams on heavy wool coats unfinished and fabrics cut in a raw fashion. For the unitiated, the house of Marni lies in its furrier roots, which really comes as no surprise as Castiglioni is a pro when reinterpreting its functionality and charm. With this tough-girl collection, she lent luxury pelts an almost animalistic fashion by plastering it on coat sleeves and patched pockets. Interestingly primal yet contemporary, if you ask us.

2. The Modernist
2. The Modernist
23 Sep 2015

2. The Modernist

Stella McCartney

When it comes to effortless dressing, Stella McCartney has it down pat. McCartney is one of those astute designers who advocate an easy elegance, and this season she liberated everyday wear — particularly jackets, coats and dresses — with fluidity and a deconstructed beauty. Her signature chunky knits were in this collection, reinterpreted as off-shoulder sweater dresses, which were either worn on their own or styled under a sheer maxi shirt-dress (how clever!). As one of the world’s most recognised eco-activists, McCartney should really be applauded for the “fur-free” long-“haired” overcoats that looked so convincing, she could have even fooled PETA!
 

2. The Modernist
2. The Modernist
23 Sep 2015

2. The Modernist

Loewe

The baggy masculine trousers of the Eighties are back and Jonathan Anderson is responsible for it. From tweeds to patent-leather versions, Anderson’s pairing of them with geometric coat-dresses and colour-blocked leather blouses had an undeniable discotheque vibe. All the more amazing as the 31-year-old’s vision of the power-suit decade was not a remembrance of something he’d lived through himself, but rather what he fantasised it was about. Anderson describes his idea of styling the Loewe woman in this era as simply the “sort of girl dressing up in her mother’s Eighties clothing”. Right.
 

3. The Functionalist
3. The Functionalist
23 Sep 2015

3. The Functionalist

Hermès

To design for real women, you need to walk in the shoes of one. Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski, the new artistic director for Hermès, is as real as it gets. “This collection is very much designed for a real way of life…and I suppose partly that’s my way of life. I don’t want to turn women into gimmicks or stereotypes,” Vanhee-Cybulski tells The Telegraph. The French native, who spent three years in New York, knows what it’s like to get her trouser hems soaked from a downpour, so she created an elegant solution — waterproof wool-gabardine trousers.

Her debut collection is also firmly rooted in Hermès’ equestrian heritage: Saddle-bag-inspired leather pockets on quilted jackets, riding coats made from lambskin leather, and saddle-strap-inspired leather chokers on capes. Though discreet, her designs are desirable — and the secret lies in Vanhee-Cybulski’s expert use of ultra-luxe, innovative materials such as double-faced cashmere in contrasting colours and teal-coloured mink.
 

3. The Functionalist
3. The Functionalist
23 Sep 2015

3. The Functionalist

Fendi

Karl Lagerfeld is a genius at pulling disparate elements together into something amazing, and his latest collection for Fendi is no exception. Inspired by the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, an iconic masterpiece of Fascist architecture in Rome that also houses Fendi’s new headquarters, Lagerfeld sculpted linear, structural silhouettes from leather panels that echoed the starkness of the building. He also took references from the abstract art of Swiss artist Sophie Taeuber-Arp, using her paintings as geometric prints in the collection.

Despite Lagerfeld’s high-culture references, there is a sense of practicality that underlies his designs, evident from the coats in tan for easy pairing, weatherproof giant puffer coats and even a strapless cocktail dress in the same quilted material to provide extra warmth on a chilly night out.
 

3. The Functionalist
3. The Functionalist
23 Sep 2015

3. The Functionalist

Giorgio Armani

After 40 years in the business, Giorgio Armani has made a triumphant return to basics, specifically, jackets and pants. The Italian designer, known for putting women in power suits, took on a softer approach for this collection: fluid jackets, long cardigans with Peter Pan collars and slouchy knit separates were sent down the runway with effortless aplomb. The colour palette is also distinctly Armani — a serene mix of oceanic tones, from alluring blues to deep greys. Prints are a part of the equation as well, with painterly swirls (the work of Russian-French artist Marc Chagall) showing up on eveningwear. Strength in simplicity — this is the essence of the Giorgio Armani collection.

4. The Victorian Ladies
4. The Victorian Ladies
23 Sep 2015

4. The Victorian Ladies

Givenchy

“Chola Victorian” was how Riccardo Tisci described the collection: an unexpected and brilliant mix of Gothic romance and Latin street culture. Fascinated with the archetypal Mexican girl gangsters known as “cholas”, Tisci worked their striking style (slicked-down hair and braided loops) into his presentation, complete with dramatic facial jewellery. His clothes, however, remain rooted in Victorian influences.

Tisci explores the darkest vestiges of the publically prudish era, revealing the suppression of sexuality and eroticism behind tightly bound bodies and lavish embellishment: The king of Goth’s signature dark and languid forms bound by medieval corsets with dramatic peplums to accentuate the waistline — an essential characteristic of the Victorian silhouette; while flowing lace and velvet step up the seduction as sheer inserts to mask the cleavage. Without a doubt, the romance narrative is less Jane Eyre and more Venus in Fur.
 

4. The Victorian Ladies
4. The Victorian Ladies
23 Sep 2015

4. The Victorian Ladies

Alexander McQueen

Tortured romanticism has always been central to the Alexander McQueen aesthetic, so it seems especially fitting that Sarah Burton chose to present her haunting, Victorian-inspired collection at the Conciergerie in Paris — a former prison where Marie Antoinette was incarcerated before her execution. Moved by the fragile beauty of roses captured in a series of photographs by David Sims, Burton created what is perhaps Alexander McQueen’s most feminine collection yet.

Prim, high-necked collars, a generous use of ruffles and lace, and a rose-inspired colour palette that ranges from blush pink, through reds, to black are a nod to Victoriana; while the models’ teased bouffants and powdered faces are a more literal shout-out to the era. The rose motif is ingeniously used in an ethereal dusty-pink dress with a three-dimensional skirt shaped like blown-up blooms with layered, light-as-air organza petals that is even more emotive in motion — a poetic ode to the transient vulnerability of beauty.
 

4. The Victorian Ladies
4. The Victorian Ladies
23 Sep 2015

4. The Victorian Ladies

Chanel

It was a revival of many things French but the one that stood out before the show was the Brasserie Gabrielle. The typical French-style restaurant served as the impressive show set this season and spanned the length of Paris’ colossal Grand Palais hall (three tennis courts’-length and more). Brasserie Gabrielle functioned as any brasserie would, serving breakfast to the fashion set for a good hour before the show. Talk about keeping it real. The collection on the other hand, was its own reality check.

“This is a collection for the down-to-earth woman,” said Karl Lagerfeld who had revived the traditional Chanel skirt suit, keeping in mind that it had to work for day as it would night, outdoors as indoors. They came in every shape, size and permutation possible: A-line or pencil-cut in a knee-length and paired with a slimming jacket to honour the archives’ most matronly-yet-elegant renditions; sporty, pouffy and tactile, to illustrate its infinite possibilities in embracing modernity and, dare we say, a nod into the future? There were only two real trouser suits in sight. The rest came paired with narrow-cut, long skirts that mimicked aprons worn by brasserie servers (to support the restaurant theme), as did a clutch made to resemble two stacks of teacup saucers.

Thematic references can reach tacky limits but not when Lagerfeld is in charge. There were fabrics that recalled the geometric beauty of mosaic tiles — a common feature in brasserie flooring. Likewise, the tartan and check motifs, which appeared as lavish fabrics or as puffy quilted patterns, were also references to a tiling fancy.

5. The Artisans
5. The Artisans
23 Sep 2015

5. The Artisans

Balenciaga

This was Alexander Wang’s best collection thus far, albeit one that should have come much earlier during his short tenure at this illustrious house. Dedicated to the women of the upper echelon (both past and present), Wang’s storyboard began with the clientele from founder Cristobal’s time, when design briefs often straddled original design and ostentatiousness.

Wang was intuitive and ran with the brand’s trademark voluminous silhouettes, offering a myriad of rounded cuts that included cocoon coats, slopping shoulders and bubble-hip skirts. The subversion and dark beauty subtexts further sealed its au courant cool — evident from the collection’s predominantly grey-to-black palette, kinky fastening details and that super-narrow sans-slit skirts, which saw models in the midi-length pencil skirts waggle down the runway in Morticia Addams fashion.
 

5. The Artisans
5. The Artisans
23 Sep 2015

5. The Artisans

Tods

Ah, that sense of wearing lightweight leather! Now that’s a value-add for consumers. There are only so many labels that can perfect ready-to-wear leather pieces and bless us, Tod’s is one of them. In fact, designer Alessandra Facchinetti has spent the last four seasons since her appointment as creative director in perfecting this craft while modernising it.

Facchinetti does not allow the functionality of the Tod’s brand to compromise on chic: The first look she sent out — a blush-toned leather trench — showed her sensibility in style and sophistication, savoir-faire and comfort. In short, the qualities required for producing a time-honoured classic. Then there’s the sartorial restraint, a go-to for maintaining a contemporary, cool style. Facchinetti does this by simplifying, discarding fussy details and leaving clean-cut lines for cropped-leather-clad bikers; the only subtle decorative touches by way of whipstitching… In the mood for more artisanal appeal? Facchinetti even has this down pat with her take on intarsia knits, leather inserts and perforated patterns.
 

5. The Artisans
5. The Artisans
23 Sep 2015

5. The Artisans

Louis Vuitton

Nicolas Ghesquière is casting his eye into the future and cited technology as its key player in honing this. Case in point: The laser-cut patterns that were not only geometrically pleasing but seemed to pay tribute to the house’s Monogram too. But the future is also what you make of the past by bettering it — and like all designers, Ghesquière revels in a little retro challenge when creating a fashion message for the future: The collection’s leg-of-mutton sleeves, the somewhat Eighties undesirable, were renewed with hint of Victoriana (one of the season’s biggest trends).

They appeared on knit tops, blouses, evening dresses and more interestingly, cropped zip-front jackets — that last looking like a brand-new take on the biker jacket. In other innovative news, Ghesquière took on lingerie-inspired dressing. Done with ultimate discretion, it almost passed unnoticed, appearing as perhaps a fondness for lace. Upon closer inspection, it could be seen that Ghesquière was making references to girdles and corsets — another brilliant poke at Victorian garb.
 

6. The Avant-Gardist
6. The Avant-Gardist
23 Sep 2015

6. The Avant-Gardist

Junya Watanabe

No one will contest the fact that conceptual Japanese designer Junya Watanabe is a genius. This season, he proved his technical prowess by experimenting with origami-like techniques, creating things like Chinese paper lanterns and fashioning them on everything from scarves to skirts, jackets, capes, wraps, shawls, hats — yes, nothing was spared. Watanabe also wowed with his transformations of felts into 3D geometric-patterned tunics and protective shell-like outwear. Despite the beautiful oddity of Watanabe’s pieces, there’s a reason he’s still one of Japan’s most successful exports: His ability to merge concepts with skillful pragmatism.
 

6. The Avant-Gardist
6. The Avant-Gardist
23 Sep 2015

6. The Avant-Gardist

Comme des GarÇons

Weird and macabre, Rei Kawakubo’s poignant show was an ode to grief and separation. Amid the dramatic ambience, the pieces reflected Kawakubo’s state of mind about this dark departure in a beautifully abstract fashion as only a designer of her calibre is capable. Lace, in a paradoxical reference to marriage and death — like her white-lace dress smothered in bows contrasting her black-lace caged ensemble — prevailed in most of the looks. Normality is not Kawakubo’s greatest trait, thus this depressingly dark collection shows her brand in the most authentic and unpretentious light.

6. The Avant-Gardist
6. The Avant-Gardist
23 Sep 2015

6. The Avant-Gardist

Yohji Yamamoto

Yohji Yamamoto was consumed with the idea of creating a collection for “real girls today”. Although ironically, his inspirations harked back to centuries-old cultures — he referenced ancient Greece by way of a piece of draped fabric worn as outerwear, and reinvented the traditionally rigid Japanese kimono into a more flowing silhouette. The effortless vibe of the pieces, particularly the winged-sleeved oversized jackets and drop-crotch trousers, are relevant references to what a cool girl of today might wear.

7. The Debutantes
7. The Debutantes
23 Sep 2015

7. The Debutantes

Prada

Part-sci-fi, part-dolly-girl but many parts prim, Miuccia Prada offered up a delicious collection of seamless story lines — Space Age, Mod, a debutante Sixties… The babydoll dress was celebrated in synthetic renditions with room left for a kitschy girlishness to flourish. Prettiness was all in details — floral crystal-embellished brooches, mink-fur collars, grosgrain-bow panels and Mary-Jane shoes with rubber soles were added to delight the senses. Meanwhile, a stylistic edge by way of clashing colours, unusual accessories and high-tech fabrics was the counterpoint to the collection’s unapologetic sweetness. This was Miuccia Prada writing new codes of femininity, but adding her brand of oddity at the same time.

7. The Debutantes
7. The Debutantes
23 Sep 2015

7. The Debutantes

Dolce & Gabbana

Mothers all around the world, rejoice! Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana composed an ode to the joys of motherhood this season. For the finale of their show, the Italian duo revealed mothers clad in black-lace slips with their toddlers and kids in tow, and three model mums took to the stage with their own children. The mood was heartwarming as The Spice Girls’ Mama blasted through the speakers.

The looks that went down, however, were ’40s-inspired skirt suits with fox stoles, fit-and-flare coats and sequins on shift dresses — typically Sicilian drama. A surprise round of billowing silk dresses closed the show covered with naïve prints (and embroideries) that reflected any child’s scribbly crayon drawings — just one glance and any mother would smile fondly, and wear it proudly. Viva la Mamma!
 

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