If you’re at all clued into the fashion world – or, let’s be realistic, if you were browsing this blog and chose to click on this article – then you’re well aware that we’re coming to the end of what is referred to as “Fashion Month”. This happens twice a year, once in February for the Fall/Winter shows, and once in September for the Spring/Summer shows. They begin in New York, proceed through London and Milan, and finish in what is often the most spectacular of the weeks, in Paris (these are “the Big Four” cities, but there are also earlier, smaller shows put on in places like Copenhagen). As these are the ready-to-wear shows, one would assume that all of the clothes would be, well, ready to wear – as if you could pluck the looks right off the catwalks and hit the streets. This is most certainly not the case. Though the pieces designers select for these shows are picked with the audience in mind, one consisting mostly of buyers for big retailers, they are still not as commercial as one would assume. While the clothes from these collections will be available for purchase in the coming months, they usually just indicate the overall look and feel that the labels are going for, and buyers attend to pick out the hottest trends for the upcoming seasons.
This season was an interesting one, as most of the shows took one of two approaches: they either wanted to present timeless, but updated, wardrobe essentials done their way (Saint Laurent, Chloé, Dior, etc.), or they went for the full high-fashion fantasy, letting art take precedence over practicality (Balenciaga, Nina Ricci, Loewe, etc.) I can’t say that there was one I preferred. I found those that chose to commit to the classics to have done it with taste and intelligence (I mean, how could I deny Versace that incredible J Lo moment?), capitalising on their strengths with aplomb, and those that went for high art to have demonstrated that we’re in a very interesting fashion era.
Despite the two very different approaches to the F/W ready-to-wear shows, certain trends prevailed, as they always do. Regardless of whether the collection was displayed in the Opera Garnier (Balmain, for whom a background like this was very much on-brand) or La Cité du Cinéma (Balenciaga, whose collection was shown on a futuristic spiralling blue runway), each designer had some version of the silhouettes, patterns, materials, and textures that are defining this particular moment in fashion. Here, you’ll find them listed and defined for your own everyday usage. Use this glossary to make this year’s Fashion Month truly ready to wear.
Callbacks to 1970s Bourgeois
A fashion era as iconoclastic as the 1970s is bound to reverberate through the decades, and this season proved that to be true. However, the generic idea of 70s culture – bell-bottoms, flowy blouses, and platform shoes – wasn’t the one that prevailed. It was the more polished, put-together aesthetic of the time that seemed to capture the imaginations of several designers. The 70s bourgeois look dominated the runways of New York, London, Milan and Paris, where boxy suiting, tie-front blouses, and patterned jumpsuits abounded. Other popular signatures of the time that made reappearances included knee-high boots, round sunglasses, and duster coats.
This has certainly been done before (by Alexander McQueen, Valentino, and Chanel, among others), but I would argue that, this season, Renaissance silhouettes have been reimagined in an utterly modern way. Broad shoulders, puffed sleeves, and corsets were commonplace, as well as dramatically-draped skirts, sharp collars, and jacquard. Though I doubt any of this year’s shows would have looked familiar to a Medici, evidence of this era’s influence was plentiful – in a nuanced way. Maybe don’t go out and buy a velvet bustier, or search Etsy for handmade ruffs, but it might be a good idea to cinch the waist of your favourite oversize dress shirt, or buy that blouse with the pointed collar.
Utilitarian styles have been popular for a hot minute, but we really saw this trend come into its own on the runways this season. What was once reserved for factory workers and mechanics can now be seen parading down the catwalks of the most storied fashion houses in the game, which we take to mean that boxy silhouettes, visible seams/stitching, and khaki are here to stay. Some designers gave the idea a glamorous twist, while others took a grungier approach, but either way, it seems as though the Jiffy-Lube-meets-John-Galliano aesthetic is taking over.
Re-imagined Materials: Leather, Fishnets, and Lamé
Sure, you’ve seen every design of leather jacket that could have ever been conceived, and fishnet stockings have come and gone with many a season – however, what seems to be popular among many collections is the overhaul of these materials. Maybe you’ve seen the jacket iteration, but what about a leather tunic? Or a dress made of bright red fishnet? Maybe some gold lamé trousers? Many designers this season have taken our conceptions of seemingly-overdone fabrics and done away with them, breathing new life into materials previously thought to belong to only one category or era.
With all that this year’s Fashion Month had to offer, the trends that it had on display, it left me feeling excited for the season to come. Of course, as a university student, I likely won’t be wearing any of the pieces featured on the runways in the near future, but I can take lessons from New York, London, Milan, and especially Paris – lessons that this article hopefully helped you learn as well.