Fall into fashion: The pre-collections
‘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