Fall into fash­ion: The pre-col­lec­tions

An­n­marie O’Con­nor

Irish Examiner - Weekend - - Inside -

‘Pre-col­lec­tions’ used to be the pre­serve of rich women who win­tered abroad. Now, the clothes that ar­rive be­tween sea­sons have be­come one of fash­ion’s big­gest suc­cesses, writes

The world of fash­ion doesn’t do things by halves. Once upon a time, there was a clear-cut re­tail cal­en­dar – au­tumn/win­ter and spring/sum­mer. Life was easy and by ex­ten­sion, so was get­ting dressed. Then, along came the ‘pre-col­lec­tions’ – a silent sup­port­ing act that filled the gap be­tween sale rails and new sea­son clob­ber. Or so we thought. In a world of stuffo­ca­tion (and re­cent re­ports of Burberry burn­ing £28 mil­lion of ex­cess stock), it’s not as if the world needs more cloth­ing – or more choice for that mat­ter. Yet here we are, at the end of sum­mer, sur­rounded by an amuse bouche of ev­ery­thing from flouncy prairie blouses and mini-skirts to mid-weight coats and leather trousers.

Con­fus­ing? Just a tad. Con­ve­nient? Very. In a fickle cli­mate such as ours, pre-fall may well be the unas­sum­ing crowd pleaser we never knew we needed. If Septem­ber is the prover­bial Jan­uary of fash­ion then might July could well be the new Septem­ber. Here’s why.

Pre-fall (also known as stock that drops be­tween May and Au­gust) is a quiet yet com­mer­cially im­por­tant sea­son. Un­like the pre­spring ‘re­sort’ and ‘cruise’ col­lec­tions that tra­di­tion­ally cater to the well-heeled and win­ter hol­i­day mak­ers, pre-fall is far more egal­i­tar­ian in its ‘wear­able and saleable’ of­fer­ing of pieces that are made to be worn. Put sim­ply, this isn’t the stuff of In­sta­gram; it’s the stuff of real life. And the stuff of real life is, by ex­ten­sion, a real seller. Fun­nily enough, not ev­ery­one wants to do the school run in straight-fromthe-run­way re­galia or meet a client in a bro­cade frock coat and patent leather jeans. Who knew? That’s not to say, pre-fall falls short of any style chutz­pah. Far from it. The in­ter­sti­tial sea­son is clev­erly used as a fash­ion trailer for au­tumn/ win­ter - al­lud­ing to its com­ing at­trac­tions while seiz­ing the op­por­tu­nity for real-time mar­ket test­ing on trick­ier trends. You see, no one ever sus­pects the quiet ones.

Con­sider pre-fall an op­por­tu­nity for some in­sider trad­ing – a con­sid­ered edit of what your closet needs, be­fore the on­slaught of au­tum­nal wants. With that in mind, the early bird can get her hands on some canny wardrobe re­fresh­ers that’ll prove their cost-per-wear well af­ter the mer­cury has gone into hi­ber­na­tion.

Let’s talk flo­rals. You can ei­ther look at them with con­tempt like the house guest who re­fuses to leave or as a sar­to­rial side­kick that’ll keep you in good fash­ion stead. From Christo­pher Kane psychedelia to Chloé’s ethe­real smock frocks, blooms and buds are sim­ply dar­ling. Look to brands like L.K. Bennett for long-sleeved midis (ideal for lay­er­ing with a belted cardi­gan and an­kle boots) or cult brand RIXO Lon­don whose sig­na­ture print-splic­ing play­fully twins tulips, polka dots and leop­ard print. Speak­ing of which… Should you pre­fer your prints with a side of wild, then ex­pect a style sa­fari while prowl­ing around the fash­ion jungle. Kalei­do­scope colour­ways prove a leop­ard can, in­deed, change its spots thanks to Stella Mc­Cart­ney whose su­per fuzzy an­i­mal print sweaters, ve­gan furs end eco-friendly leathers make a pussy­cat out of this fash­ion preda­tor. Speak­ing of green, Valentino has part­nered with Mon­cler to cre­ate a puffer jacket bear­ing a life­sized emer­ald tiger – clearly to scare off any Arc­tic blasts – or per­haps merely to look fierce, what­ever the weather. In the mean­time, we’re look­ing to M&S whose short-sleeve an­i­mal print shift dress (€60) makes a sweet trans-sea­sonal lay­er­ing sta­ple. Try it with a leather jacket and loafers or an over­sized blazer and boxfresh train­ers.

It does ap­pear that the great out­doors is win­ning big this sea­son as fash­ion die-hards con­tinue to scram­ble for the cov­eted hik­ing boot, which thanks to brands like Gucci and Of­fWhite, has cre­ated its own heard path. Equal parts ex­e­cu­tion and evo­lu­tion, the se­cret to pulling off this footwear favourite, with­out look­ing like you’re head­ing to Ever­est Base Camp, is all in play­ing against type. Wear now with a prairie dress and folk­ster cardi or take a leaf from the Ital­ian fash­ion house and pair yours with a base­ball cap, flo­ral gúna, and bomber jacket. Then again, the old skinny jeans and half-tucked jumper combo does the B trick nicely too. ut it’s not all flora and fauna, you know. Thanks to a re­dux of 80s max­i­mal­ism, se­quins have segued from a par­ty­wear to an any­where sta­ple. What’s more, the folks at Zara have thrown their hand­bag on the dance­floor, is­su­ing us the prover­bial style gaunt­let. Here’s how this shindig goes down. Although loud is proud; quiet car­ries its own sense of con­fi­dence, es­pe­cially when it comes to high shine. Layer a metal­lic se­quin col­lared shirt (€49.95) over a linen t-shirt, and cuffed cargo pants (an au­tumn/win­ter 18 power player) or re­verse-en­gi­neer the equa­tion with a crisp white shirt and rain­bow se­quin midi skirt (€89.95). Pair with nude shoes and job’s a good’un. When it comes to mak­ing se­quins work IRL (the work of pre­fall, af­ter all), less is al­ways more. Un­less, of course, it’s a trench coat. That’s al­lowed. Although the clas­sic Ir­ish weather may be fash­ion­ably late this sea­son, we can al­ways be as­sured of its ar­rival (see: 53 de­grees north lat­i­tude). If hor­i­zon­tal rain and wind are on the cards, we may as well throw some shade back at Mother Na­ture – in style. And it all starts with some mac ac­tion. If the cur­rent crop is any in­di­ca­tion, we’re look­ing at home­land prints, mock frock styles, vo­lu­mi­nous sil­hou­ettes and furry hearts (thanks, Fendi). Wear it as you see fit, just make sure the fit is loose. It’s all about not giv­ing a stuff. Let the weather do its worst; you’ve got this pre-fall lark cov­ered. Stock­ists

By Ma­lene Birger – www.by­malenebirger.com M&S – Mer­chants Quay SC 021-4275555; www.mark­sand­spencer.ie; and other branches

Net-a-Porter – www.ne­ta­porter.com

Rixo Lon­don – www.rixo.co.uk

Zara – Ma­hon Point SC 0214972320; www.zara.com; and other branches

THE DRESS: ‘Noleen’ chalk tulip dot dress, Rixo Lon­don,£295 (ap­prox. €332.09), and main im­age, Stella Mc­Cart­ney pre-fall look.Pre-fall: the mo­ment of sar­to­rial panic be­fore cat­a­pult­ing for­ward into a new sea­son. Of­ten ac­com­pa­nied by protes­ta­tions of hav­ing ‘noth­ing to wear’ and strong feel­ings about change­able weather pat­terns.

T H E T R E N C H : ‘Keiko’ trench, By Ma­lene Birger

S E Q U I N S : Skirt,Zara, €89.95

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