Summing Up AW16 Designs

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What’s the most important element of your AW16 wardrobe? Texture, and lots of it. Beyond that, spirited silhouettes and directional cuts are key, says Marie Kelly.

The characters and narratives of each new season are what make the fashion calendar so hypnotising. Last autumn, Gucci’s “modern vintagist” and Saint Laurent’s “good girl gone bad” set the stage for a season of maximalism and costume drama. Less was definitely not more. This year the fashion landscape feels different – more serene, more serious perhaps. But fresher and more captivating for its simplicity after several seasons of extreme eclecticism and eccentricity. The ideas that have emerged may be less grandiose than previous years, but the attention to finer details makes this a season worth investing in. This autumn’s fashion player expresses her sartorial confidence in a more restrained, but no less impactful, way. The silhouette of a directional cut, the sweep of an oversized cover-up, the sensuousness of a tactile fabric and the subtle suggestion of luxe detailing are the ways in which today’s muse modernises her look. Probably the most talked about collection of the entire season, Prada, is anchored in a series of strong statement pieces and unique detailing. An XL tailored jacket with drop shoulders and fur-embellished sleeves, full-skirted dresses in embroidered silk, fit and flare military-style coats and sumptuous velvet dresses peppered with the most tactile of distressed leather skirts. They each tell a story of texture and shape, and these are the sartorial building blocks of your AW wardrobe. From well-worn leather and shiny vinyl to romantic velvet, polished patent and seductive shearling, textures are key to getting a handle on how to dress for the coming months. A brave silhouette is also essential. Oversized shapes and innovative cuts will define every stylish woman’s fashion status this season. Last winter, Prada’s woman was decked out in a dolly mixture palette of sugary pinks and pistachio greens. Empire line dresses and blingtastic brooches harked back to Regency or Elizabethan dress codes. It was pretty and playful. Not this time. Miuccia Prada’s girls look far more grounded. Argyle tights and quilted anoraks add a utilitarian feel that is mirrored in collections from Acne Studios and Balenciaga to Stella McCartney. Although there are some 1940s references at Prada (cocktail dresses covered with Jane Russell style draped sleeves), retro influences are far fewer across the fashion capitals this time round (Saint Laurent is the exception, drawing heavily on the early 1980s and the final days of Studio 54).


Prada AW16

Designers are looking forward not back, taking the everyday elements in our sartorial arsenal and reinventing them with a flair for the modern woman. Fail-safe checks now come in deconstructed shapes and non-traditional silhouettes (see DKNY, AF Vandevorst, Gareth Pugh and Victoria Beckham), while neutral shades of syrup and sand have been reimagined in contemporary textures for a flattering new take on head-to-toe tonal dressing (Akris, Baja East, Celine and Hermes do it best). Designers d that very clever thing of transforming the ordinary into something extraordinary. The simple sleeve, for instance, has become a point of difference at Temperley London, where it was fluted and ruffled, at Alexander McQueen, where it balloons at the shoulder, and at Marques Almeida, where it’s oversized and overlong.

Dior AW16

The traditional sweetheart neckline takes on a completely new guise at Balenciaga and Dior. No longer confined to cocktail hour, this romantic cut is given a sportswear spin, redefining the shape of conventional outerwear. At Kenzo, a patent leather dress dilutes any saccharine associations a sweetheart neckline might invite, while the high-neck blouse beneath injects modesty into what should be quite a revealing cut. Considered and thoughtful this season may be, but there are still elements of wit as well as opportunities to go glam. I’ll be buying a ski sweater for sure Reminiscent of Christmas jumpers and those itchy shrunken Fair Isle pullovers of old, this time round they’re a sophisticated cashmere blend and stylishly oversized. Wear yours with a little irony, but not too much; leave the bobbled hat at home for another day. I’ll also be embracing sports luxe (no, this trend is not going anywhere). Hoodies in silk blends or with velvet trims are the key to tackling desk-to-dinner dressing. Urban street brands such as Y/Project, Off-White and Vetements have each injected their streetwear with a metallic opulence for a more decadent interpretation than previously seen. Eclecticism hasn’t disappeared completely either, but it has a more considered feel. At Dries Van Noten the bold combinations of texture, print, colour and shape never feel like costumes. Rather, order and at times understatement are evident. In previous years, those wonderful fashion narratives have sometimes enthralled us more than the collections themselves. This season, however, the clothes are definitely the main talking point. As they should be.

off white

Off White AW16

See these trends and more in the IMAGE Magazine September issue; on shelves nationwide now.

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