European Fashion Weeks Trends Report
by: Ria de Borja
October 19, 2012
Spring Summer 2013 Fashion Weeks are over. During our roundup, we gathered a few trends from some of the shows we saw in London, Milan and Paris.
Backstage after the show, Jasper Conran said, “It’s about all things Americana. Everything emerged as I was going along, and I had a ball doing it.” The show’s backdrop was a rendition of the flower-power movement, replete large flowers outlined with neon lights. References to American culture and history were plenty, and included a dress with an emblem of the Ace of Spades (which American soldiers during the Vietnam War used to scare off the VietCong), patches on denim, quilt-work on dresses and skirts, and a Gingham skirt. Cropped jackets looked biker-gang ‘Jack and Diane’-ish, while a long, perforated dress felt countryside-chic. A large cherry on a mini circle skirt brought to mind both the peppy, preppy 50s and its associations with youth and innocence.
At Acne, rubber hats and a cow-print dress looked to be the more subtle and stylish visual references to Southern and Midwestern states. The words ‘music’ and ‘collage’ were written in bold letters on shirts and were derived from an American musician’s works. Red, blue and white squares and ruffled cuffs made us think of Harlequin characters. Long, flowing shifts and bits of straps and fluttering leather felt romantic.
A sweet version of Americana, just an inch off the borders of Tough and Prim, was seen in the the Alexis Mabille show. Gingham was used in pants, shirts and dresses and evoked visions of Dorothy of the Wizard of O. And then there was the long prairie-skirt, which in Mabille’s hands lost all associations with dowdy, backwater country life. In a tier of baby pink, printed white, and black cotton, the prairie girl had turned into a sophisticated woman. To boot, she was also a young Parisian in her black hipster sweater. Scallop-edged skirts and sleeves rounded off the collection.
Hostess with the Mostest
In Temperley London, the floral ensembles were paired with wide-brimmed hats and Hepburn-O sunglasses. The show was called ‘Return to Elegance’ and the ensembles spelled poise. A long shift dress with transparent panels felt as if a gust of wind was permanently passing through; lavender-blue swingy knee-length skirts were doubtless inspired by the 1950s. We could imagine that several hours after clasping on her pearl necklace, and before the requisite beautifying massage before bed, the Temperley Spring Summer 2013 lady, permanently on vacation, would find time to sip a highball- in sheer, ladylike gloves.
At Issa, the elegant woman would likely be sipping a mai-tai – to match the tropical prints on her long robes. Orchids adorned her head; her bright, one shoulder formfitting dress was glamurous and sexy. Prints were loud on long flowing dress. The message was clear: wallflowers need not apply.
In Milan, the Spring Summer 2013 woman’s intrinsic attitude was on-the-go and ready. At Emporio Armani, striped shorts and blazers, clothing to wear from city to weekend, were matched with with textured jackets. Fabrics with hazy prints were styled with either textured bucket bags or small clutches. Draped dresses and asymmetric blouses looked perfect for layering. Gold, silver and taupe were muted; and silhouettes, in A-line dresses or mini-lengths, highlighted youthful bodies and sinewy legs.
At Giorgio Armani, the Armani woman felt, as the brand likes to highlight, more mature. Chiffon skirts with square mirrored prints and the lightest swaths of grey and blue were paired with cropped jackets. Milky way-and-star-prints, and beaded knee-length dresses, looked to be inspired by the night sky.
The shine in the Burberry Prorsum show in London, on the other hand, was as bright as the sun. From our seats, the metallic trench coats looked like dazzling tinfoil. Backstage and up-close, hung as if on a store rack, they were less shocking, more wearable. Still, a shiny trench-coat with two colors, orange and fuchsia, pleated and shaped to the body like a corset, was for the more daring consumer- while the shiny capelets, we were thinking, would spruce up both daytime and nighttime ensembles, from white shirts to formal dresses. But our favorite gleam-y look came from peacock feathers: done entirely on a fitted trench coat with a black satin collar, it felt the most luxurious part of the collection.
Pleats and Stripes
In Veronique Branquinho’s show, her comeback after 3 years of absence, we marveled at the pleats on the back of a cropped tan jacket – they at once gave shape to and softened the jacket’s structure. A small tuck at the front of the elbow on a double-breasted coat – a tiny aspect that gave the piece of clothing an added panache and sparked the smallest thought about the human body – was just one of the many exacting components in the collection. Others included tiny shirring on the waist of a dress, and a perfectly pleated chiffon dress. A simple cotton shirt with large armholes was neat and smart. Striped knits were the sportier part of the collection while a pleated, striped silk dress felt fresh.
Back in London, Paul Smith used his pleats as a tool to tame a chiffon skirt. But it was his use of stripes that caught our attention most. He played with the graphic look, using stripes in a bias cut dress and on sleeves in a boxy button down. The result looked to be from a mix of the 70s, 80s and 90s. But there was no pinpointing exact eras in the fitted multicolored jackets and pants with varying widths of black stripes. They simply spelled sporty and peppy.
Ruffles emerged this season in a few houses. The first that we saw were Gucci’s, where they appeared on sleeves and then crawled up the neck and down the arm, covering the front of the body entirely. On a batwing blouse giant ruffles looked like layers of thin petals that would flutter up flirtatiously when blown by the wind. The idea of exaggerated arms or wings was also portrayed in a black blouse with a graphic fence-pattern at the chest. A smart and sexy reinterpretation of the 70s silhouette of loose flowing pants and fitted jersey blouses (with a large keyhole at the chest) was seen in a green ensemble with curvy ruffles snaking down the sides of thebodice.
Anne Valérie Hash’s ruffles were small and prim finishing touches on fitted dresses; or comprised the bottom half of bustier-blouses in a metallic color and a printed neon version. In true Hash style, the collection included details and inspirations from men’s clothing: a black bustier looked like the edges of a shirt with a suit jacket layered on top – upside down. It was then accented with chiffon ruffles at the hem and resulted in a balance of masculinity and femininity.
It seems obvious to put two designers of Asian origin in the Eastern category but this season, her 30th anniversary as a designer, Junko Shimada’s collection was particularly inspired by the East. ‘Tribal’ and ‘Asia’ came to mind as turbans, head-wraps, spotty compositions on bright orange chiffon, and spiffy brocades were shown on the runway. A free and open energy, perhaps the designer’s more French-influenced side – if not in sartorial nature but in culture – was felt in the loose silhouettes.
The Shiatzy Chen collection included the brand’s usual Chinese-inspired details such as Mandarin collars and embroidery, while silhouettes were A-line or boxy. The printed fabric from the Miao culture of last season was replaced by a more obscure techno-like print- that was no doubt derived from Chineese culture- in blue and silver metallics. White silk dress with splashes of black looked like a giant scroll. It was a fresh, arty touch to the collection.
As Far As The Eye Can See
In two rows along an expanse of runway, the wind turbines at the Chanel show spun overhead. Depending on your vantage point, they were diagonal, horizontal or vertical; and either so tall that you didn’t pay attention, or overwhelmingly large.
Chanel’s nature-relevant themes in the last few seasons have included icebergs and crystals – why not wind? But there was little wind and a lot of things said in this season’s collection. Lines, in various kinds of squares – beaded, multicolored, accenting, highlighting, printed on; think a hundred interpretations of thequilt on the handbag – were a major theme. While last season’s theme seemed to look to other worlds, some of this season’s ensembles brought you back to Earth, in patterns and neon colors so strong on the eye that they felt almost cold. Pod-shaped sleeves on jackets and blouses gave a nod to the future, while jackets’ just-below-the-breast length felt young and modern. The same high-waisted line, when topping black ankle-length body-grazing dresses, felt both Edwardian-goth – in color and silhouette – and Chanel classic (the jacket was quilted like the handbag). More lines, this time in terms of severity and purity, were apparent in purple tweed ensembles with contrasting-colored-edges. But essentially the collection was about texture: physical texture on padded and raised thick knit fabrics, embroidery on dresses; and mostly visual texture on checks and windowpane depths. It was, as always, perfectly thought-out, but was most of all about form – and style.
The lights on the ceiling may have been a rendition of the night sky, but the space, from top to bottom, made it clear that you were in the House of Louis Vuitton. The floor was Damier-printed, and everywhere you looked were double-vision Damier-clad models. Again and again, the print, from footlong to minuscule versions, were shown. The repetition of squares, however, wasn’t boring: they were sleek and smooth in brown and white satin, see-through and slightly sexy in yellow and clear, and hypnotizing in minuscule black and white.
The set also wanted to make the eye to look upwards, but not at the stars nor the galaxy: the models rode escalators that went right up to backstage Vuitton- that is, even more Vuitton. If nothing else, Louis Vuitton’s branding strategy is so perfectly in line (excuse the pun) that we don’t wonder why the brand is the fashion giant that it is.
And then there were the bags, which included slim Damier handbags and clutches. They were ladylike and matched the clothes to a T.