Summary of the Season
A proposal for fall: Fit-and-flare silhouettes, demure dressing and out-of-the-box colour combos. By Lisa Armstrong
Ayear ago, fashion seemed to discover a new sartorial obvious: Fashion sneakers, luxe jogging pants and cashmere hoodies suddenly became the “wear anywhere” uniform for cool girls everywhere. Athleisure was here to stay, and, baby, we’d better get used to it. I dabbled. I dipped.After all, I love an Alexander McQueen sneaker or a Chloé jogging pant. But gymwear as a blueprint for everything in my closet? Forever? I couldn’t do it. This season, the athleisure trend is still there for anyone who wants it, and its positive influences abound: More and more technical fabrics used in more and more imaginative ways, chunkysoled flats, and heels no higher than four inches. But thankfully the bar is rising for the coming season. We’re talking A-game. It’s as if fashion’s radiofrequency signals switched from analog to digital. Tailoring, already humming along nicely for several seasons, has turned up the volume, with skirt suits joining the pantsuit as a powerful day-and-evening alternative to dresses.Things are taking a turn for the formal. Also, interestingly, the modest.
At Valentino, the necklines were so high and the silhouettes so body-concealing that the clothes would have looked right at home at Riyadh Fashion Week (there really was one earlier this year—times are changing everywhere).The new modesty may well be fashion’s way of adjusting to #TimesUp, although the degree of coverage made some women watching slightly uneasy.When does demure tip over into oppressive proscription? Fortunately, designers offered plenty of options, so let’s exercise our freedom to take as much or as little as we want from this development.
Scarves are everywhere, from Gucci to Versace: Fastened to purse handles and wrapped around the neck as well as the hair. Headwear in general hasn’t had it so good since the 1950s. Hats, baseball caps… And even balaclavas. I was tempted. I mean, cosy, but then I realised that the look hasn’t worked for me since I was about nine years old, alas. Coats are outstanding: In checks (hang on to all your checks), high-gloss patent and outrageously unapologetic fake furs—I’ve ordered three. I know.Where am I going to store them come summer? A plethora of cute faux-fur labels have appeared recently, but the biggest endorsement came from Givenchy, where Clare Waight Keller made the most realistic, glamorous fakes I think any of us has ever seen. Remember how stunned people were when she suddenly materialised outside St. George’s Chapel to arrange the train on Meghan’s dress? That’s how surprised the fashion set was to discover that her fur wasn’t real. I’m also completely enamoured of an oversize
The main story, shapewise, is fit and flare. flattering this silhouette is? How endlessly bigger boobs than you, you can make
Victoria Beckham trench, which is beyond chic, but in that low-key way we all want to be chic. I’ll be wearing my coats every day for the next few months because, let’s be real, coat styles never actually die, they simply go into hibernation some seasons.
Colour, always a revealing lens through which to view fashion, has shaken loose from just about every last shred of protocol and prejudice.Think fuchsia is for holidays in St. Barts? See Oscar de la Renta’s fall collection. Or that baby blue is more of a springtime statement? Not when it’s mixed with burgundy, as seen at Alberta Ferretti. Incidentally, burgundy now does the job that used to belong to black—it anchors an outfit— and brown, after decades in the rust-belt wilderness, is also back in favour, along with rust and ochre, as it happens. It’s all part of a ’70s vision that I prefer to think of less as a transient revival and more as a classic genre that has thoroughly earned its position on fashion’s Mount Olympus.
I’ll slow down because there’s a lot to take in here. We should probably start with the fashion markers that make the biggest difference, like length. If you’ve been steadily acquiring midis, know this:They’re still your go-to, although designers flirted with even longer, ankle-grazing lengths (a lovely flat-shoe-friendly option for evenings).
There are minis too—at Saint Laurent and Balmain, for starters—and at some point, because this is the way of the world, they’ll swing back into full action. But for now longer feels most contemporary, even if it leads us into a quagmire of shoe quandaries. Feel free to shout me down, but I don’t think a very long, sweepy hemline looks good with a spindly-heeled pump. For one, it doesn’t send out the right kind of style signal.This isn’t about being Princess TippyToes but about tapping into that carefree ’70s new-dawn-of-feminism vibe. Chloé’s lace-up Victor ian-slash-cowgirl boot (there’s an interesting mash-up) has the ideal degree of off-kilter elegance. Boots may be your new footwear staple: Kneehigh and taller for when you’re wearing something slashed; shin-length for midis; and ankle boots for pants. Speaking of pants, they’re longer too this season.And high-waisted— but not so high that you can feel the zipper digg ing into your
breastbone yet sufficiently raised to tuck in a blouse and have it stay there, all day, and high enough to make your legs look longer. The cropped ankle is still relevant. But a subtle floor-skimming flare looks newest.And now for a tip: The way to retain your sanity is for your clothes not to swish on the ground—that’s just disgusting—but to hover a couple of barely perceptible notches above.Tory Burch, whose height is in inverse proportion to her business acumen, prefers to wear her pants with huge platforms or wedges, but you don’t see all that.You just see Tory looking incredibly willowy. This, my friends, is what we call fashion stilts.
Don’t get the wrong idea. Pants may flare and skirts gently swirl, but the supersize proportions at Balenciaga, Miu Miu and Junya Watanabe are, for the most part, outliers. Sure, Balenciaga’s triple-layer duvet parkas and opera coats were inspiringly constructed and intriguing to behold, as well as expressive of a post-apocalyptic clothes-as-armour sentiment that was articulated at other houses, most notably Prada and Calvin Klein. But the main story, shapewise, is fit and flare. Do you know how universally flattering this silhouette is? How endlessly adaptable? Even if Mick Jagger has bigger boobs than you, you can make the new silhouette work. In fact, if you recall (younger readers, Google this) the true ’70s spirit was not about channelling a Kardashian. Back then, the flatter you were, the better because, let’s face it, you’d already burned your bra.
Designers are nurturing separates again, and not a moment too soon because—hello, versatility! At Jacquemus (the fashion editor’s latest crush), designer Simon Porte Jacquemus plays for high stakes with his separates, going for classics with subtly deviant qualities (twisted cotton shirts, unexpected peekaboo slashes on skirts) and strong but not outlandish colour contrasts— saffron and cobalt, for instance, or buttermilk and white. At Jil Sander, creative directors Luke and Lucie Meier are doing luscious things with a pared-back sensibility.Think more separates, gently curving singlebreasted jackets, and pants in delicate shades of ivory and white with startling jolts of sapphire and lavender, and the occasional blurry floral print. The bottom line: There are no binary choices in fashion anymore.That may be the biggest story of all. ■
Do you know how universally adaptable? Even if Mick Jagger has the new silhouette work.
Clockwise from top left: Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello fall/winter 2018.Jil Sander fall/winter 2018. Dior fall/winter 2018. Coach 1941 fall/winter 2018 OPPOSITE (Clockwise from top left): Fendi fall/winter 2018. Chloé fall/winter 2018. Versace fall/winter 2018. Oscar de la Renta fall/winter 2018