Wednesday 25th March

| BY Helena Fletcher

Sugar, Spice & Everything Nice: Fashion to Look Forward To for AW20

Everyone needs a bit of sparkle once in a while. Just ask a certain online editor with a penchant for tiny beaded bags. Faced with a pandemic, the AW20 shows gave us some fun fashion to look forward to. After slowly creeping into the SS20 collections, it was clear no brand was immune from an injection of glitz and glam when the following season rolled around. The antithesis of Kanye West’s paired back Yeezy Season Eight collection, across the board it was all about embracing the tack and trimmings. Think cupcakes with frosting and rainbow sprinkles – unnecessary but totally delicious and escapism at its finest. With lashings of embellishments, crystals and frivolous flounces, your AW20 wardrobe is going to be dry-clean only. From the sequinned sublime to the rhinestones ridiculous here are the season’s most fabulously ostentatious trends. A word of warning: watch out for magpies.

Crystal Haze

Credit must be given where credit is due, Ashley Williams, Mimi Wade and Christopher Kane have always been proprietors of fun fashions infused with sparkle. However, the sudden, post-noughties resurgence of rhinestones can also be partially attributed to Area who have been fulfilling our wildest crystal fantasies since AW18. They didn’t disappoint this season either, setting the tone with a first look comprising of a plaited crop top looking like a waterfall of crystals flowing down, cigarette pants with a crystal trim up the sides styled with a matching bag and headdress. Rhinestones galore, there were bralettes, butterfly detailing and even a crystal chair worn as earrings and cross-body ornament (?!), Area are owning creative crystaling.

There must have been something in the water as crystals were widespread, popping up in over 20 shows. Opening Fashion East’s 2020 show was Goom Heo’s black collared tabard appeared embellished with a sundial-esque formation of crystals and colourful Swarovski were liberally hand-appliquéd in patterns that resembled something between runes and a noughties kid’s card-making session at Matty Bovan. But it wasn’t only the emerging brands, Giorgio Armani, Balenciaga and Burberry closed with crystal-heavy looks, also featuring prominently in Dries Van Noten, Lanvin and Bottega Veneta. Not quite sure this is what Glen Campell had envisaged when writing Rhinestone Cowboy, but it’s now firmly on repeat.

Area AW20


Tinsel isn’t just for Christmas. Hear us out. Doing the unconceivable, JW Anderson’s AW20 collection managed to make tinsel trendy. Easing us in with golden hay-like sleeves on a black dress (with a crystal waistband and anklet), followed by another black dress with clear straps from which streams of clear plastic flowed forming a cape and resembling a pair of elevated fancy-dress angel wings. Dispersed throughout, tinsel appeared as decadent statement sleeves, shoulder pads on Donegal tweed coats and as collars on top of blanket-like cloaks, knitwear, dazzling elongated-sequin dresses. Balanced out in the collection by an ample serving of lurex, flowing cuts and sculptural tailored silhouettes. Tinsel or film-like streams are made from what Anderson called “antique celluloid”, likely a thermoplastic similar to the material of early photographic and cinematic film stock which was popularised before acetate was adopted in the 1950s. Speaking directly to a love of dressing up, it was a collection that wanted the wearer to be noticed – clothes designed to take up space and spread optimism.

Similar energy pervaded at Noir Kei Ninomiya, who showcased voluminous forms sprouting organically from the wearer’s body. There were glimpses of lurex fabrics alongside lashing of sequins, fluff and feathers. Beautifully juxtaposing the dark canvas of a black belted bolero leather jacket, a matching shirt and tiered skirt it was worn on top of, a lederhosen-style piece, plaited into a Rapunzel-esque harness, woven together, formed a frizzy golden tinsel-like skirt. Tinsel made an appearance as coats and dresses at Rochas and combined with fluffy streams of feathers, giving a shiny synthetic edge at Givenchy and Dries Van Noten. Looking like a Christmas tree ornament is no longer an insult, keep up.

JW Anderson AW20

Sequinned Splendour

It’s official – the Christmas cocktail party staple made its way back into the mainstream. As expected the master of sequins aka Ashish gave us our seasonal dose of colourful sequin fun, floral patterns were embellished at Richard Quinn and Halpern presented his best sequin-covered disco-ready looks. But the flat scale-like beads appeared up at almost every show from Art School to Giorgio Armani in a variety of different forms. Blown up, oversized sequins formed shiny chainmail in red and dusty pink at Paco Rabanne, took on sharp feather and knife shapes at Noir, square shapes in aquatic blues and green at Emporio Armani and oval-shaped mirrored sequins reflected the light at Mugler.

At Bottega Veneta, Daniel Lee covered midi dresses in shades of brown and creamy yellow and formed the fabric of slick maxi-length, long-sleeve rollneck dresses in a mushroom-cum-taupe and bold fire-extinguisher red. A similar full-length red rollneck gown closed Pierpaolo Piccioli’s sequin-heavy Valentino show, with sparkle decorating many of the eveningwear looks – either scattered across the fabric or embellishing floral embroidery. For Louis Vuitton, Nicolas Ghesquière created a ticker print out of sequins in a traditional burnished yellow and a blood-like red. Massimo Giorgetti also got the memo. MSGM‘s sequins were not limited to occasion dressing and evening wear, appearing in silver, gold or metallic pink on tiered skirts and tops, pussy-bow blouses, 1970s-style dresses and shirts, all styled for the everyday.


Flounce-worthy Feathers

Potentially one of the most impractical but also fabulous outfit garnishes come in the form of feathers. The popularity of wearing feathers dates back to the pre-revolution court of Louis XIV. For AW20, feathers featured fabulously. White ostrich feather plumes at Clare Waight Keller’s Givenchy snaked across the body like tendrils and the feathers of a red ostrich and marabou coat trembled as the model walked. Haute couture-style drama also came also with a cropped feathered jacket, worn with long black leather gloves, created from shiny short feathers with wisps of stripped feathers protruding out. Keller closed the show with five looks incorporating black streams of black and white feathers attached to dresses, a shirt, a jacket and a full-blown black sparkly feather skirt. Fluffy marabou feather collars ran rife at Lanvin with 2019 LVMH prize winner Thebe Magugu giving fine feather trimming the side of his trouser and shirt suit with a seam of white wispy feathers.

Alongside feather dresses (with crystal straps), bralettes and skirts Ashley Williams created feathery monochromatic and multicoloured feather Alice bands and hats. Towering headgear also made an appearance at Loewe, where models wore feathered headdresses that resembled oversized glam rock or hair metal styles in jet black, royal and cornflower blues and crisp white. Adorable yeti-style headdresses made of feathers framed a few of both the male and female models’ faces at Richard Quinn, meeting the face with a rim of costume-jewellery looking crystals. For Quinn’s Moncler 8 collection, every one of his models was styled with one, apart from those zipped up in a hood. As they say, birds of a feather flock together…

Givenchy AW20

Top image: Burberry AW20. Photos by Jason Lloyd-Evans. 

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