As revivalist dressing tightens its grip on fashion, with designers referencing trends from the 1990s, Y2K and — soon to follow — the so-called Indie Sleaze of the 2010s, the autumn/winter collections provide some reprieve: a demure undercurrent in which hemlines drop, necklines go high and more “classic” silhouettes come to the fore.
For every Miu Miu-inspired micro mini at the shows last February there was a New Look-style full skirt: Matthieu Blazy’s Bottega Veneta debut included mid-length leather versions in purple or bright yellow; Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons paired grey and black skirts with tonal sweaters at Prada; while at Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri co-ordinated traditional Bar jackets with calf-grazing pleated styles.
At Patou, designer Guillaume Henry took the sportswear codes established by the brand’s namesake in the 1920s and contradicted them with full, quilted skirts, roll-necks and layers of gold chains. “This collection is about movement, freedom and the idea of comfort all at the same time. I wanted to offer many options to a woman that wants to feel confident in what she’s wearing, while feeling at ease,” Patou says.
Back to basics
One of the most talked-about items from the autumn/winter season was the white vest, which cropped up in numerous collections. Prada and Loewe had classic ribbed versions highlighting each brand’s logo at the front; at Chloé and Bottega Veneta the tank was kept clean, tucked into trousers or jeans; while Sacai’s slightly sheer iteration was teamed with a long black skirt.
The luxury vest was part of an overarching simplification trend of designers going back to basics. “I looked to the ideal of ease but also acceleration, the kind native to New York,” says Khaite designer Catherine Holstein, who showed white crew neck T-shirts with black, oversized blazers and jeans. “Classic silhouettes made memorable by details,” she says.
True blue denim was a big feature throughout — Hedi Slimane’s Celine show included 18 pairs of jeans, usually slightly faded and cut wide at the leg; at Givenchy, designer Matthew Williams paired simple white tops with baggy skater styles; and at Alaïa, designer Pieter Mulier gave denim kick flares and tucked in a white shirt — a classic combo if ever there was one. Even Demna Gvasalia’s latest couture collection for Balenciaga included jeans and a T-shirt.
“These are items that our customers buy into to elevate their everyday looks, a classic with a twist,” says Libby Page, senior market editor at Net-a-Porter. “Loewe’s logo tank sales have confirmed this to us by selling out globally within the first week of upload.”
A touch of drama
The mood for winter coats is larger than life — think Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities, Ivana Trump in her heyday or the original TV series of Dynasty. No shrinking violets here.
At Anthony Vaccarello’s standout show for Saint Laurent, the main event was oversized outerwear: faux fur coats with nothing on underneath; trenchcoats with massive epaulettes and lapels; and big-collared jackets paired with long, swishy dresses and shiny bangles. Stella McCartney and Gucci also played with oversized faux furs; Versace and Acne both puffed up the robe coat; while Louis Vuitton and Miu Miu took tailored outerwear to its exaggerated conclusion.
Leather played a key role. At Prada, black and pink versions were given strong shoulders; Ann Demeulemeester sent biker jackets to the floor; and Jonathan Anderson deconstructed a classic shearling at Loewe.
“Leather outerwear was prevalent in many shows, from longline biker jackets at Chloé, strong pink belted coats at Prada, and vinyl at Courrèges,” says Browns womenswear buying manager Holly Tenser. “Floor-skimming coats were my highlight this season, with some incredible neutral options at Givenchy and classic black wool at Elleme.”
Loud colours and vibrant prints have had a lot of airtime since Covid struck — dubbed “dopamine dressing”, a kind of optimistic armour to counteract the bleak reality of everyday life. That look remains relevant this season, but so too is practical black — for rolling up the sleeves and getting on with it.
Pierpaolo Piccioli’s autumn/winter Valentino show consisted of only two colours, playing out like a two-part act — a series of gloriously vibrant hot pink looks, set against a matching pink set, and 33 all-black looks that were varied only in cut and texture. Givenchy, too, showed a funeral procession of dark looks that played with band tees, and Ralph Lauren, who showed at the Museum of Modern Art, offered a slinky collection of only black, white and red.
It’s a move that buyers will love — as nothing sells better than black. “At Net-a-Porter, black has always reigned supreme — it is still our top-performing colour to date and our largest investment,” says Page. For autumn/winter, the retailer has bought 700 options of black dresses alone — “for every shape, size, aesthetic and beyond.”
Lingerie-inspired details — including lace, sheer materials and silky slips — appeared on catwalks from New York to Paris, as designers reinterpreted the usually concealed codes for everyday. Simone Rocha styled transparent, embroidered slip dresses over grey woolly shorts and co-ordinates; Gucci included a black lacy bodysuit with thigh-high stockings under a big faux fur coat; while the opening look at Fendi featured a pale pink and red ruffled négligée underneath a furry bolero.
“Stella McCartney’s layering of men’s coats over slip dresses showed us how to wear lingerie as ready-to-wear today,” adds Net-a-Porter’s Page, “or with a simple sweater — as done brilliantly at Bottega Veneta.”
Many designers incorporated lingerie dressing with sequins — another recurring detail of the season — elevating the theme to occasion wear. Emerging designer Nensi Dojaka has played with bras and strappy details since her London Fashion Week debut in 2019; this season, her finale looks included a sheer, sequinned top and matching tights and dress that twisted at the top before cascading down to the floor.
In a collection inspired by the progressive artists of Berlin in the 1930s, Erdem offered a more modest take on the trend, with a series of embroidered V-neck slip dresses paired with long, sequin neck scarves. “Partywear is definitely back with a bang,” adds Browns’ Tenser.
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