Designer Dossier: Spring/Summer 2019 Women's Fashion
Sarah Burton’s collection celebrated women through portrayals of different rites of passage, from birth and sisterhood to marriage and mourning. There were white wedding dresses and christening gowns, delicately embroidered lace poplin ensembles and leather lace corseted dresses. Tough, layered jewellery, designed like heirlooms and keepsakes, added to the nostalgia.
To get to the runway, guests walked through a tunnel of moving-image LED-screens created by digital artist Jon Rafman, who Demna Gvasalia discovered at Art Basel. The show itself was a graduation from streetwear, through which Gvasalia rose to fame at Vetements, presenting sophisticated power dressing, including structured shoulders, oversized tailoring, and even blanket dresses covered with plenty of logos in various fonts. Vintage silhouettes were given a futuristic spin with the use of bold colours such as fuchsia and highlighter green.
Riccardo Tisci highlighted British attitude in his debut collection, naming it Kingdom to celebrate the rich heritage of England, where everything from rebellious punk to refined formality coexist in harmony. Savile Row-inspired tailored jackets and separates were coupled with chunky Mary Janes and layered with graphic tees. The house’s iconic check was refreshed in silk blouses and handbags, while the new Thomas Burberry monogram, named after the brand's founder, appeared on belt bags and high heels.
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Raf Simons' last collection for the brand—news of his departure caused shockwaves when it landed just before Christmas—is another one dedicated to American classics. Hollywood Films such as Jaws and The Graduate inspired a mix of surf-inspired and collegiate clothing that juxtaposed taboo and temptation. Neoprene wetsuits, of-the-moment florals, and leopard prints were mixed with ship-wrecked skirts and billboard-printed tank tops worn underneath graduation gowns.
Before delivering his highly anticipated debut collection following Phoebe Philo’s departure, Hedi Slimane stoked expectations by axing the accent in the logo and announcing the launch of Céline’s first menswear and couture lines. Fans yearned for a return of the rock ’n’ roll aesthetic he made famous during his time at Saint Laurent, while critics wondered if he might go too far, marring the elegant minimalism Philo had so carefully crafted. The result was a lineup of party-ready frocks for women, complete with sharp shoulders, lots of leather, and even some bows on top, while boys in sunglasses strutted in skinny suits reminiscent of Slimane’s early days at Dior Homme—suits that are also available to women.
Karl Lagerfeld treated the audience in the Grand Palais to a beachside getaway. As models strolled barefoot on a manmade beach complete with waves holding plexi sandals and beachball-shaped bags, the house’s signature tweed was once again on display, this time in sunny yellow, soft turquoise, sandy beige, and pastel pink, tailored in both classic and modern silhouettes such as vests and ponchos. One of fashion’s new trends, bicycle shorts, received the Lagerfeld treatment in the form of refreshed scuba shorts from his 1991 collection.
Natacha Ramsay-Levi has given the label’s strong bohemian roots a modern, festival-ready twist. The collection transported us to holiday hotspots like Ibiza and Morocco with long dresses in summer fabrics and prints. These were accented with amulets and jewellery picked up along the way, like golden shoulder-grazing earrings, and arm cuffs with turquoise stones. Handbags were given a dip-dyed gradient in sunshine and blue-sky hues.
Contemporary dance was the inspiration for Maria Grazia Chiuri, whose show began with a beautiful modern dance interpretation choreographed by Sharon Eyal. With the freedom of motion at its core, the runway was fi lled with models in ballerina buns wearing tutu gowns, mesh bodices, and ribbon sandals, all in soft beige and pastel hues. There were Chiuri’s signature denim pieces, taking on a tie-dye effect this season, as well as navy mackintosh coats and khakis to give a more boyish balance to the otherwise lace and tulle-filled performance.
Here’s the answer if you’re looking for something to cheer you up (and cover you up) on a rainy day. Opening with an array of transparent raincoats with lush brown-leather lining and pockets, the show was a triumphant showcase of casual-sophisticated dressing. Oversized denim bomber jackets were followed by earthy leather skirt suits and high-waisted biker shorts, all cinched at the waist with utilitarian belt bags. Punchy orange totes and mint green accents enlivened the collection alongside the mesh floral finale frocks.
Taking inspiration from the sea, Giorgio Armani featured a delicate dance of pastels, from “mermaidian” pinks to turquoise blues. Besides more obvious allusions, such as PVC belts and panels along with conch shell pleats, there were smooth silver silk suit jackets and dresses with sheaths of dazzling organza, all with a holographic sheen resembling the glint of fish scales. The stars were some of the watercolour finale pieces, including a jumpsuit with waist cutouts, while netted sneakers, casual totes, and azure mesh scarves formed the basis of most accessories.
A duality in Clare Waight Keller’s collection saw male and female silhouettes combined and mixed up via a new strong shoulder, seen on floor-length dresses and separates, and military-inspired high-waisted trouser looks. Accessories and prints were drawn from Hubert de Givenchy’s rich archives.
Alessandro Michele gave his usual eclectic-retro collections a disco spin, first by eschewing Milan in favour of Théâtre Le Palace in Paris, a historic 1970s club once frequented by the likes of Yves Saint Laurent. Flapper fringes, bold hues, and Lurex marked many pieces, some constructed with heavily ruffled shoulders, others in his signature ’70s silhouettes with calf-length skirts and boxy heritage print jackets. Sunglasses the size of eye masks accompanied most looks, with the occasional cowboy hat or tiara headpiece. The audience was also treated to a surprise performance by the legendary singer Jane Birkin.
Though set against Longchamp Racecourse in Paris, the collection did not have the usual equestrian-heavy focus. Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski offered sophisticated sporty alternatives ideal for an adventurous summer. Warm weather anoraks were worn over safari shorts and paired with thick-soled gladiator sandals, the epitome of fuss-free luxury. Boxy leather jackets and tops were paired with checkered trousers, tunics, and co-ords in natural tones of grey, brown, and signature Hermès orange. Bag of the season? The bucket bag, which can be swung over the shoulder for your next exotic getaway.
Nicolas Ghesquière hinted at the bright and endless possibilities of space travel by playing up graphics and volumes on strong silhouettes. The collection took the audience on an expedition to faraway lands (or planets), where surreal landscapes were patchworked and printed onto larger-than-life outerwear, all finely styled with short hemlines. Accessories came in various forms of mini luggage- and souvenir-inspired shapes. Boots were laced up and zipped. All in all, a nod to the luxe nomad.
Marc Jacobs worked with colourist Josh Wood and hair stylist Guido Palau to create a cotton-candy fantasy for his collection. Models took the stage in a flurry of marshmallow hues, marching to a circus anthem blaring in the background, most adorned with enormous Pierrot collars, some in head-to-toe ruffled gowns or plumed confections with giant bows to match. Suits had exaggerated, boxy shoulders paired with lamé trousers and boater hats with netted veils.
An uplifting array of prints engulfed viewers in beachside memories, starting with surfboard florals on scuba jackets and shorts, familiar tablecloth checks for cover-ups, and white eyelet bikinis. Fringes and raffia adorned the beach satchels, while floppy hats were given a sophisticated twist in the form of delicate Chinese embroidery. Oversized sweaters, knitted swim caps, and bath towels-turned-ponchos made for cosy accompaniments to the more revealing collection—the show closed with a series of sexy black dresses perfect for a poolside party.
She may be the younger sister, but that’s not going to stop Miu Miu from stepping out of Prada’s shadow. The Miu Miu girl has grown up, but she hasn’t lost her rebellious streak. Girly rosette-adorned cocktail dresses in wrinkled taffeta were matched with thigh-high socks and thick-soled platforms. Miniskirts and short hemlines remained staples but were styled with high socks, larger-than-life hems and topped off with pretty bows. Retro-inspired pea coats were a mainstay for outerwear. When it came to accessories, it was shine on for headbands, necklaces, and earrings.
Guests often leave a Ports 1961 show with a sense of serenity, thanks to the flowing silhouettes in soft Mediterranean blues and yellows. The latest collection continued the theme but with the added highlights of fringes, seen on a floor-length beaded rope gown, tasselled shoulder straps, and messenger bags. Comfortable, minimalist silhouettes were still apparent throughout, with androgynous suits, asymmetric knits, and jersey dresses adorned with a knotted detail here or a netted overlay there, while bone bangles and Grecian sandals completed each look.
Miuccia Prada’s collection was a cross between conservative and bold. There was plenty on the feminine side, such as babydoll dresses, doublebreasted coats, and shift skirts, but ultra-athleticism was prominent too in the form of cycle shorts, thigh-high socks, bodysuits, and oversized sunglasses. Garments were detailed with delicate satin bows, ’60s wallpaper graphics, crystal studs, and tie-dye patterns, which were also seen in handbags. Shoes came in two varieties: a sporty sock sandal and an ultrafeminine pointed toe.
A star-studded runway show and dinner at Central Park celebrated the brand’s 50th anniversary, with Hilary Clinton and Oprah among the friends who came to fete an icon of the American Dream. Like a retrospective brought to life, models aged from 7 to 70 strutted in hits from the archives, including cowboy boots, intarsia knits, preppy polos, tailored tweeds, and plenty of plaid, as well as modern favourites, such as a glamorous velvet patchwork gown and military jackets. There was literally something for everyone in the 100-look collection, be it a sporty fellow looking for varsity jackets or a soirée-hopping socialite.
Anthony Vaccarello had models literally walking on water, the runway mirroring a sparkling Eiffel Tower in the background. Saint Laurent’s timeless black minidresses and suits started the show, which then burst into a series of plunging, pussy-bow blouses, gold lamé bombers, and star-spangled frocks. Heavy crystals and feathers adorned the mostly monochromatic, chest-baring collection, while bowler hats, dazzling headbands, and chunky cowboy belts topped off the looks.
Buttery soft leather and supple suedes were a mainstay, even for summer. Refined coordinates were crafted in warm summer tones reminiscent of an Italian sunset, while summer shirts, trousers, and jackets, colour-blocked with stripes of leather, suede, and snakeskin, were accompanied by matching moccasins and sandals. A cool cobalt blue served as the season’s pop of colour. Bucket bags and saddle shapes continued to be mainstays but the headliner was the return of the D-bag, the ’90s hit toted by the late Princess Diana.
Whether you’re a maximalist or minimalist dresser, there’s something for you in Pierpaolo Piccioli’s collection. Black was at the core, opening the show in more than 10 ways via capes, dresses, suits, and lace coordinates. Then came the colours. Piccioli imagined a holiday getaway with vivid use of tropical prints, moving-in-the-wind plumes, and voluminous balloon silhouettes. Decadent though they may sound, the approach was also casual, with almost all looks worn with beach-friendly sandals. Accessories came in tarnished gold, and wide-brim hats were embellished with various feathers.
Florals, neons, and platform soles: ’90s fashion came full circle. In a slight departure from the sharp-shouldered, retrospective shows of seasons past, the new looks felt distinctly soft and youthful, thanks to the swathing, micro-floral dresses and layers of bright, clashing prints, punctuated by the occasional little black satin dress that millennial supermodels like Gigi Hadid would conceivably wear on a night out. The show closed with legendary ’90s supermodel Shalom Harlow walking the runway to a roaring crowd.
- Images Jason Lloyd Evans