Designers at the recently concluded New York, London, Milan and Paris fashion weeks proposed a closet of sparkly evening wear besides showcasing an array of separates that can be mixed and matched depending on one’s mood and occasion.
Heritage design houses like Versace looked deep into their archive and reintroduced some distinctive pieces with au courant touches, creating a dialogue between the past and the present. There was a directness about this collection based on a foundation of atelier know-how, corsetry construction and perfect tailoring. An emblematic and key house code, the Versace Contrasto checkerboard was expressed in new fabric manipulation techniques including jacquard organic silk-blend duchesse, textural macramé, and RWS-certified responsibly sourced wool crepe tweed.
Anthony Vaccarello at Saint Laurent referenced the Saharienne jacket invented by their founder Yves Saint Laurent, a symbol of his north African upbringing which went on to become a metaphor for Parisian chic in 1967. Experimenting with cotton this season, Vaccarello sent out jumpsuits, shirt dresses and knee-length pencil skirts accessorised with metal bangles and high heels mimicking the silhouette of the Eiffel Tower.
In Milan, Gucci showed a nod to the brand’s Tom Ford era of refined sensuality. The brand’s creative director Sabato De Sarno brought back emblematic pieces like the Jackie Notte in exotic skins and new hardware. Here’s looking at the key trends which emerged.
Versace’s Barocco print was embossed on silk blend duchesse and as macramé borders. Baroque is deeply ingrained in the DNA of the house and it’s hard to picture it without its ornate motifs. Some of the key looks were the double-face cotton car coat with signature Medusa buttons, a bonded tailored hourglass jacket-dress with three-dimensional shoulder construction and a checkerboard summer tweed coat with rounded shoulders. At Gucci, the interlocking GG monogram appeared on leather skirts and soles of footwear - from the horsebit platforms to the heels. At Givenchy, Matthew M Williams recreated Audrey Hepburn’s famous LBD with a slashed front iteration and styled it with a solo opera glove.
Florals for spring
Bally by Simone Bellotti saw an embrace of quiet luxury and a profound respect for the values of Swiss luxury. From the taffeta mini crinis to tutus made from swirls of rosettes, the designer captured the soft nuances of alpine flora. At Versace, the ‘Rose’, a seasonal motif epitomising beauty, passion and defiance, which is also Donatella Versace’s favourite bloom, took centre stage. At Givenchy, what looked like an homage to Hubert's creations for Audrey Hepburn - Matthew Williams presented slinky chiffon dresses with bloom shaped twists and hand-painted florals along with botanical motifs and lace accents. In her final show for Alexander McQueen, Sarah Burton offered a tribute to Britishness, the red rose of England, which appeared in dresses shaped like rose petals.
Micro shorts galore
Versace rooted for a hot girl summer showcasing a litany of dangerously high silk duchesse shorts. A cashmere twinset with pearl and bead embroidery, with matching micro shorts, was one of the covetable looks. There were plenty of micro shorts at Ferragamo, Fendi and Isabel Marant too. ‘Legs for days’ seems to be a mantra across the board.
The Nineties are back
It’s been raining slip dresses that evoke the minimal ’90s, from Dolce & Gabbana and No 21 in Milan to Coperni and Givenchy in Paris. Appliqued, beaded and cut to flatter the body, lingerie-inspired dressing crafted with the finest lace and leather set the mood for provocative yet tasteful boudoir dressing. Gucci showcased minis with pronounced bodices and couture-like shapes. Nina Ricci’s show opened with an ice blue babydoll dress styled with gloves and fishnet stockings.
Webs and Feathers
One couldn’t help but feel a witch-like vibe emanating from Maria Grazia Chiuri’s cobweb-like knitted black dresses at Christian Dior. Always a proponent of tough femininity, there were portraits of women rebels, which informed her mood boards, one of them being Simon Signoret, who appeared in the film adaptation of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible about the Salem witch trials. At NYFW, Falguni Shane Peacock clashed sheer textures with their signature feathers.
Three dimensional bloom and botanical appliques and ornate surface texturing lent gravitas to dresses at Chloe, Marni, Balmain and Richard Quinn. A mesh netted dress with white floral appliques at Gabriela Hearst's joyous outing at Chloe celebrated hyper femininity. Marni's opulent 3D multi-hued appliques peppered on gowns and dresses evoked instant desirability.
Slashed and ripped
Dresses slashed on the bust with peekaboo cut-outs clamoured for attention at Coperni, Chloe, Courreges and Jil Sander. A white pleated floor-length dress at Chloe featured side cut-outs and a yellow one-shoulder number had a cut running crossways on the chest. Traditionally synonymous with the Space Age, Courreges’ show was marked by flowy shirts and dresses with a petal shaped slit on the front.
A seminal look was the Atelier Versace bias-cut checkerboard metal mesh mini dress with crystal, bead and Barocco thread embroidery border seen on house muse and supermodel Claudia Schiffer. As Schiffer sashayed down the ramp, it evoked the 90s when Gianni Versace dominated the style map. One could easily picture the chainmail making its presence felt on the red carpet come awards season. There was a plenty of unbridled shine at Isabel Marant, Paco Rabbane, Elie Saab, Alexandre Vauthier, Blumarine, No 21, Ashish, Erdem, Simone Rocha and Carolina Herrera as well.
Luscious, tactile and statement-making tassels and fringes were seen at Gucci, Prada, Christopher Esber, Ann Demuelemeester and Bibhu Mohapatra. The knife-sliced fringes created a frisson of intrigue as models walked by. While Gucci played with them in neon tones, Prada went fully metallic.
There was plenty of red leather at Bally, Hermes and Gucci. Gucci sent out an array of kicky logoed leather skirts and slips in a unique hue of oxblood introduced by the brand's new creative director Sabato De Sarno. Bally’s stunning red leather coats and dresses were one of the highpoints of the collection.
Manish Mishra is a Delhi-based fashion writer and content creator.