Fashion Weeks AW15/16 – reviewing the reviews

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Over the last month I’ve been reading reviews of the four main Fashion Weeks as each has come and gone. Fashion editors will be distilling the main trends for the September issues of the magazines but here, in the meantime, is a little summary of the things they picked up in each fashion capital. Each is distinct in its own way, from the freezing snow and cool commercialism of New York to the spring sunshine and high styling of Paris.

The NYC winter is unforgiving, so polo necks and big fur collars abounded. The 70s disco vibe at DVF got mixed reviews but it looked easy-to-wear, just like the preppy luxury at Michael Kors. There was (as always) a good dose of luxury minimalism from Calvin Klein and The Row. There were plaudits from the FT for the technique and tailoring on show from Jason Wu, Proenza Schouler and Rodarte. The one that stood out for me was the Victoria Beckham show. Suzy Menkes, writing for Vogue pronounced that “Victoria Beckham has made it as a designer”. The looks seemed to combine the best of New York’s commercial instincts (easy-to-wear black), with some European flair (a curvy, body-hugging shape) and a little British eccentricity (asymmetric knitwear).

London style is famously eclectic and eccentric so there’s usually something for everyone. Stylist loved JW Anderson’s leather and Jonathan Saunders’s knee-high boots. For the FT the story was in the textiles, highlighting the innovative use of PVC (Emilia Wickstead, JW Anderson, Sibling); shearling (Ashley Williams, Roksanda Ilincic, Margaret Howell); outsize checks (Preen by Thornton Bregazzi, House of Holland, Paul Smith); and brocade (Erdem, Marques’Almeida, Simone Rocha). The Daily Telegraph highlighted the contrasting textures in the Joseph show: cashmere, silk, boiled wool, sheepskin – Lisa Armstrong dubbed it “contemporary elegance” and that seemed to express perfectly its balance between modernist design and graceful shape.

Italy is Europe’s textile innovation hub and so its not surprising that many editors highlighted the fabulous fabrics on show in Milan. The FT picked up intarsias at Etro, Tod’s, Salvatore Ferragamo and Jil Sander; quilting at Maxmara and Emporio Armani; and lurex at Blumarine, Missoni and Just Cavalli. Stylist celebrated “womanhood” from Marni’s amazonians to Maxmara’s homage to George Barris’s poignant beach portraits of Marilyn Monroe. The Daily Telegraph found a different kind of womanhood, reporting on “granny chic” – not surprising in perhaps Europe’s most matriarchal society – which is a frequent theme at Prada, this season showing jersey/neoprene trousers (apparently a match made in heaven) in pretty pastel colours. All eyes were on Alessandro Michele’s debut at Gucci, making his mark with a romantic collection described by Vogue’s Suzy Menkes as “attic chic”.

The problem for anyone trying to sum up Paris Fashion Week is how on earth to encompass the range and extraordinary mix on offer from the conceptual to the blockbuster? The FT and Vogue both loved Lanvin – a Moroccan-inspired collection that was romantic, beautiful and wearable (with tassels on). Lisa Armstrong at the Daily Telegraph had praise for Sacai’s cable knit leather biker jacket which did look truly gorgeous. Suzy Menkes liked Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski’s debut collection for Hermès: “one of those quietly beautiful moments” (see it here – I was mesmerised). Business of Fashion however, picked up an underlying trend: the growing emphasis on styling over design concept in a thoughtful and interesting article.

For me? I loved the Anrealage show, combining geometric shapes with military and Edwardian influence, while placing a literal spotlight on the wearer – the customer.

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