I have a fashion confession to make… an obsession I indulge in wherever I am and whatever time of day – before I go to sleep, first thing when I wake and at every stolen moment in between. “My name is Marie, and I’m addicted to Googling Victoria Beckham’s outfits.” I started dabbling when she was spotted sporting an exquisite velvet pleated skirt from her 2016 collection. Paired with a plain boyish white shirt, it looked so, well, efficiently chic, such an obvious answer to any woman’s workwear dilemma. My interest was piqued. I casually continued to search her style, but in an easy-breezy kind of way you understand. I didn’t need to, I simply chose to. This was just a passing fad, a bit of fun. Not a fixation.
Then Beckham began to colour-block, and my addiction spiralled out of control. Her vibrant two-tone outfits looked so fresh and modern – coral and cobalt blue, tangerine and lime green, raspberry and burgundy. It was as if every day Beckham deep dived into the Pantone archives, resurfacing wearing a sartorial masterclass in how to make just the right kind of colour statement. She never looked garish, and always understood that delicate balance between colour and cut, in reality (if one is bold, keep the other benign) as well as on the catwalk. I was constantly hungry for more and she fed my addiction daily. As she became more confident with colour, I became more crazed. I abandoned Google and began logging onto Getty Images to get my hit (Instagram was no use, her official feed is diluted with family posts and beauty booty, and it was the pure paparrazzi style shots I was after).
Now suddenly pairing any shade with black (except navy, which always suggets you’ve thought about your outfit but never apears as if you’re trying too hard) seems a little lazy, or a little like I’ve lost my nerve mid-way through getting dressed. These days I feel as if I haven’t made an effort unless I’m chartering new colour coding territory, such as pink and tangerine (it works). What was it Claude Monet said? “Colour is my day-long obsession, my joy and torment.” I get it.
Luckily for me, the autumn/winter collections are a veritable kalaeidescope of confident colour pairings from which to draw inspiration. At the Delpozo show, they spanned the simplicity of merlot and grape through to unexpected lemon and deep lavender. The sculptural, almost futuristic, silhouettes appeared even more unapologetic when imagined in this mix of earthy, inky shades peppered with citrus hues.
At Calvin Klein, a house built on minimalism, neutrals and basics, newly appointed creative director Raf Simons demonstrated that colour-blocking can be for cautious colour-wearers as well as confident ones like Beckham. A petrol blue coat worn over jade pants made a subdued statement – these shades are cleverly close to neutrals, but not quite. The unfussy tailoring coupled with a muted palette projected a sobriety that will translate well for working women who want a point of difference to their outfits without risking that their clothes will be noticed before they are. Simons managed to respect Calvin Klein’s heritage without bowing down to it, creating a collection that will appeal to long-standing lovers of the brand as well as those who’ve become a touch jaded with it.
Calvin Klein AW17
If there’s an outrageousness about Delpozo’s colour codes and challenging silhouettes, and an easiness about Calvin Klein’s, Milanese brand Aquilano Rimondi presented a very wearable but exciting halfway house. Shapes were directional but not alienating and the colour blocking was softened and punctuated at the same time by the addition of white under shirts. With a longer hemline, the purple belted ruffle hem dress and burgundy boots would make an ideal starting point for any woman’s colour-blocking endeavours.
Aquilano Rimondi AW17
The most popular way to colour-block right now is with red, mixing shades of ketchup through to strawberry and chilli. Designers including Joseph, Roksanda Illincic and Victoria Beckham (of course) took the fear out of wearing this in-your-face shade by blocking it with either marshmallow pink or deepest burgundy and sticking to soft and fluid silhouettes. The result was grown-up chic rather than anything brash or brazen. As Audrey Hepburn said, “There is a shade of red for every woman.” And this season, your nearest high street is flooded with each and every one of them. A pop of punchy fuschia will also work when paired with richer shades of red and can help to elevate your outfit above those of the crowd. Otherwise, mustard and oxblood is a classic combination, while cobalt blue and burnt orange have a surprising synergy. Cornflower I’ve discovered works with everything, and I’m dying to get my hands on something teal, which I think will help to reinvigorate earthy browns and muddy brickish hues. If you’d prefer to tentatively dip your toe in the colour-block trend, then take inspiration from Illincic again whose models walked the runway in gorgeous gathered boots with colour-block heels. As always, accessories are the easiest way to try out a trend before committing fully to it. & Other Stories has some great leather bags that beautifully block moss green with red and navy, while a pair of navy and teal pointed pin heel ankle boots at Zara are a wonderfully subtle way to embody the look.
If like me, you’re drawn to clean lines and minimal detailing, this trend could be your sartorial awakening. It’s such a simple way of adding personality and individuality to a look without compromising that pared back aesthetic. And if you’re worried about where to begin, simply use the colour wheel as your compass. But don’t start Googling Victoria Beckham. That’s a rabbit hole you may never crawl out of. And anyway, it appears that she’s moved onto tonal dressing… not that I’ve been looking…