Once again, the tornado that is fashion month has finally swept through New York, London, Milan and Paris, leaving fashion its wake rather than chaos. And with it has come the time to digest the fashions we have witnessed. So without further ado, our highlights from the AW16 collections.
New York gave us Alexander Wang, which had hints of pole dancers and cannabis plants. To quote Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, “She was living in a single room with three other individuals. One of them was a male, and the other two, well the other two were females. God only knows what they were up to in there… and furthermore, Susan, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to learn that all four of them habitually smoked marijuana cigarettes… reefers. While dressed in Alexander Wang naturally. Rodarte, in celebration of their 10th anniversary unabashedly embraced their more romantic nature sending out what can only be described as a walking and breathing daydream of patch worked leathers, worn with shaggy furs and layered over delicate wisps of lace and ruffles. Hood by Air continued their reimaging of traditional street wear revolution by further deconstructing, tweaking and twisting all the hallmark staples to create the new classics of the future, while Proenza Schouler also jumped on board of the ‘Frankenstein’ train, riffing off of where they left off last season to showcase a tightly edited collection of lace up knits, spliced and then un spliced dresses as well as sharp, twisted tailoring.
In London, J.W. Anderson pushed a look that he termed ‘modern cocktail wear’. Think springy bonded fabrics in a cornucopia of minimal ruffles and wavy hems. This was very flirty, for J.W anyway, in an almost Judy Jetson crossed with a Tatler party girl way. To quote Marques’ Almeida, this season, “we wanted this collection to feel like normal clothes, like it tumbled out of and belongs to someone’s closet rather than in a store or on the rack”. And how did they achieve this? By designing clothes as separates rather than looks and having their friend’s model in the show, styled by themselves, basically how they would wear the clothes off the runway. The best way to describe Alexander McQueen’s return to the London Fashion Week schedule? Fairytale sex dripping in butterflies and trimmed in marabou. And duvet coats. Well if you’re going to do a sleepwalking collection a duvet coat is kind of de rigueur. And lastly, there was a sense of jumble sale scouring, bag lady eccentric to Christopher Kane’s AW16 collection. Or, to quote the designer in question, “there is an idea of beauty expired this season. But how that dead and thrown away beauty often looks better than when it was supposedly alive”. And on that note, can we take a moment to mention the plastic headscarves by Stephen Jones. Fabulous.
Milan began with Gucci, which was, this time, all about the shoulder. The Blythe doll undertone continues, but this time she’s a little more grown up. Her shoulder, since this was the focal point of everything in Alessandro Michele’s head, is inspired by a portrait Catherine de Medici. A sort of, what would happen if Catherine time travelled to the future and mated with Alexis Carrington. The answer? This. Prada was dark. Or darker. Think a forties lady sailor, dressed in corseted belts and full skirts that placed emphasis on the waist. The silhouette here is wide. Probably a result of the full skirts, and the furry sleeves, that add a sense of boxiness to the collection as a whole. Marni did Marni, but better than Marni if that makes sense. A sort of Marni to the power of ten. Think of it as a patchwork of colour and texture. The shoulder was key here too, the difference being that in the case of Marni they rounded it for a softer shape. As Donatella herself said of her latest collection for Versace, “this collection is so important to me. Every single piece is wearable, desirable, real. It’s about expressing a woman’s strength and her individuality.” Which basically translates as Donatella does daywear. But this being Versace, don’t expect jeans and a sweatshirt. This was daywear of the most glamorous kind. The kind of daywear you wear on a private jet not the morning tube commute.
Paris this season was dominated by one man, Demna Gvasalia. From the hype around his design collective Vetements, to his debut at the helm of Balenciaga. First up Vetements, which was held at the American Cathedral, which is kind of appropriate as where better to bow down at the altar of Vetements if not in a Cathedral. The key hallmarks were here, the oversized layers, the tailoring, those floral dresses, but more somber this time, and with slogans too. ‘LOVE’, ‘HATE’, ‘YOU FUCK’N ASSHOLE”. Balenciaga on the other hand asked itself the question, ‘what is sophisticated today?’ And “how do you persuade a woman to wear a two-piece suit who is not the German Chancellor?” The answer, pad the hips and create a small pinched shoulder creating a silhouette that is pure Demna whilst staying true to the hallmarks of Balenciaga. Well, what else would you call an off the shoulder neckline on a vibrantly red puffa jacket, layered over a crystal studded roll neck that just screams night at the opera? At Loewe J.W. Anderson decided to focus on the waist, creating something we’ll term as a fit and flare silhouette with a handkerchief point hem. Sophisticated and kicky. At Louis Vuitton, Nicolas Ghesquiere described the collection thus, “we had an idea of this trip, of a woman who could be a digital heroine, like Tomb Raider, when she discovers an archaeological site.” Basically they looked to some imagined future, but then Nicolas always looks to an imagined future. This time the future contained what we’ll call, in broken French, le motocross sportif with kicky silk scarf layers. And that’s the best that we can do word wise, because at this very moment, words are failing us.
Photography by Jason Lloyd-Evans