Let's start with the ruffles. You can't move for ruffles. And velvet.
Sometimes you find yourself dreaming about them. You wake up at the point of
suffocation by ruffled velvet. It's a hauntingly romantic kind of season.
Sometimes the romance turns dark. Those teeny, tiny sprig prints (it's also a
print season) grow predatory. You feel like Gretelâ€”a Gretel who hankers after
one of those gorgeous floaty (yup, the season is floaty as well) or lacy (that
too, lots and lots of it) ruffled short prom dresses you
saw at Alexander McQueen. The ones seeped in fantasy motifs; the ones Sarah
Burton said she purposely wanted to be redolent of nightmares as much as she
wanted them to be sweet, because one without the other is not interesting. You
want one very badly because, like so many of this fall's folksy, flouncy chiffon
dresses (seen at Erdem, Rodarte, Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini, Alberta
Ferretti, et al.), they're exquisite. Then you remember that you don't do
sprigs, or dresses, and maybe you haven't worn florals or flounces for two
decades. That shouldn't be a lifelong pass; the right floral or flounce may be
the rogue atom that revitalizes your entire closet.
Welcome to a new seasonâ€”one that doesn't simply propose a stranglehold on a
lone idea but a myriad of possibilities, from biker girls to Pre-Raphaelites,
outdoor-bound anorak wearers to armchair athletes.
If the onslaught of ideas seems confusing when you walk into a store or
wander into an online boutique at summer's end, keep in mind that they're just
the catalysts for a closet-refresher courseâ€”an ideal time to put some fresh gas
in the tank.
The takeaway mesØºÙŠØ± Ù…Ø¬Ø§Ø² Ù…ÙŠ Ø¨Ø§Ø´Ø¯e for real life? Mixing a single sporty piece with heels
and tailoring is a shortcut to contemporary polish. It cuts it in the workplace,
for sure. This season, try a silky, cuff-hemmed jogging pant with heels and a
tailored jacket. Meanwhile, trainers, tuxedos, and crystals are now a classic
trope for evening. Who said dressing up can't be effortless?
For a more formal excursion into androgynous functionality, there's always
menswearâ€”and I mean always. Pinstripes, elongated waistcoats, and brogues
abound, and they've acquired a renewed desirability when styled with extravagant
jewelry and lushly feminine fabrics.
If you haven't yet traded your white shirts for a soft, decorative blouse in
any color but especially a dark jewel tone, this is your moment. From florals to
stripes, scarf ties to lace inserts, metallics to ruffled yokes, Beatrix Potter
necklines to Marc Jacobs's theatrical neck bows, the statement blouse is
becoming the transformer trigger for many women: that key piece that's (almost)
making a tailored jacket redundant but certainly works beautifully with it. Wear
it with jeans or tweeds for a sensual but edgy option and a satin s******t or
culottes to take you from a fashion party through to the most elegant
To identify more mercurial agitators, it's helpful to understand the seasonal
mood. Proportions and colors can (and should) be adapted to personal taste, but
moodâ€”and the pieces to invest in, to bootâ€”provides a framework for seemingly
disparate forces. This fall, there's an antiestablishment spirit that touches on
everything, whether it's the ethereal Victorian maxis at Philosophy di Lorenzo
Serafini that are pushing out the Trump-pleasing, ***y, fitted dresses of the
past; the streetwear that sprang fully formed at Vetements a year ago; or the
dressed-down high-fashion renditions of athleisure. From cropped-haired,
makeup-free models to chunky flat-form shoes, the Ã¤ norms of pretty are being
Where there is rebellion, the military is never far behind. Enter Prada,
Versace, and Valentino, to name but three houses, with some of the smartest
tailoring we have seen in a very long time.
No grown woman should take any of fashion's caprices literally. Even
designers don't anymore. Instead they undercut every decree with a metaphorical
lift of the eyebrow. Prada's army coats were shown with ultra-waist-cinching
belts and ladylike top-handle bags. Valentino's were the carapace for the
filmiest lace and tulle gowns. Versace's stirrup ski pants marched out with
razor-sharp jackets and heels. There's utilitarian yin and vintage-looking yang
everywhere you look: the brocade at Gucci, Prada, and See by ChloÃ©, where
quilted vests were slipped under khaki overalls; the animal prints at Dries Van
Noten and Stella McCartney; and a slick rehash of 1970s excess at Roberto
And, yes, you did read the words "stirrup pants." They were in Demna
Gvasalia's much-talked-about debut runway show for Balenciaga too, worn with
jewel-smothered satin stilettos, and they probably constitute the season's most
radical pants choice. You may want to pursue the popular velvet pant instead.
Giorgio Armani pretty much has the genre covered in his take on menswear
suiting, while Valentino used the opulent material in sumptuous dresses.
But let's not dismiss the stirrup out of hand because, as discussed, you
never know. At Balenciaga it came with some spectacular ski-jacket
interpretations, featuring soaring necklines or off-the-shoulder ones, quilting,
and sky-high price tags. The definition of modern, pragmatic luxuryâ€”warm, light,
and, unlike fake or real fur, impervious to waterloggingâ€”Balenciaga's puffy
coats and canvas anoraks are emblematic of an urban sportiness that can't simply
be explained away as a passing trend. A rackful of haute bombers and sweatshirt
fabrics is turning recent notions of what passes for elegance on their head.
Even fashion's die-hard romantics, bohos, and glamour junkies have bought
into this athleisure moment: an equestrian-inspired quilted cobalt satin
below-the-knee, belted coat at Tory Burch; and the ubiquitous track pants.
Then there is the equally relaxed and fictional color-blocked leather
motorcycle jacket at Rag & Bone, graphic sportswear at Louis Vuitton, plus
kick-flare leather pants with seaming borrowed from the Hells Angels â€¦ What is
it about the biking fraternity (and sorority) that makes it so eternally
appealing to fashion designers who go everywhere by limo? Discipline?
Rebelliousness? The combination has produced a welcome high-energy alternative
to the old body-con silhouettes. Right now fashion is in love with the strong
***iness of the sports arena rather than the cleavage-flashing of the
There is so much tweed around, by the way, all of it juxtaposed with things
that would startle our grandmothersâ€”trainers, lamÃ©, leather, and denim. There's
also an array of tempting new bags to add a punctuation mark to your look or to
deliberately throw it off-kilter, including Mulberry's navy Maple tote with
contrasting topstitching; Loewe's expandable, highly adaptable, small Hammock;
Balenciaga's Classic Traveller backpack in black suede; and an abundance of
dainty top-handle and decorative chain-strap bags â€¦ no whatevers there. A bland
era this is not.