So, since the summer has been so terrible and sluggish, all those gorgeous pairs of shorts, sun-dresses and sandals have been hidden in the back of the wardrobe like the mongrels left at the animal shelter. But instead of focusing on the negative of those poor espadrilles just crying out to be worn, let’s focus on the positives and look at the fact that we can start the painful, gruelling shopping trips (can you sense the sarcasm?) to build up an utterly FABULOUS winter wardrobe.
The Autumn/Winter collections for 2011 have a real twist to them, mixing everything from forties glamour to fetish leather and just about everything in between. The most popular design houses in the world created looks this season that, again, were very idiosyncratic and eye-catching, certainly causing a stir (almost as much as the Galliano controversy!). They also stretched styles, using some of the trends we bought for the non-existent spring/summer season and making them transcend into winter so the extravagant purchases made around February that we regretted so much can be passed off as worthwhile expenses, business expenses if you will!
All eyes were on two shows that are always one to remember, Alexander McQueen and Christian Dior. Since McQueens untimely death a year before, everyone was nervous to see what Sarah Burton could create to honour his one year anniversary. She did not disappoint but it was a bittersweet occasion. Vogue’s writers said, ‘Imagine if you can, wearing your best friends clothes a year after they’d died in celebration of all that they meant to you’. And Burton had some very big shoes to fill. Freja Beha Erichsen opened the awe-inspiring show with a bang, sporting feathers, tweed, white makeup and a silver metallic skull-cap, a feature that adorned every model in the show. The looks came thick and fast, bringing new and fresh ideas to the table. They were reminiscent of ‘Black Swan’, showing both the dark and bright side of fashion, and maybe life as well, showing Burton’s mourning of her boss, and more importantly, friend of 16 years. There were so many different trends thrown onto the catwalk, velvet, tweed, studs, chains, white fur, buckles, and although to the ear, they sound horrific, it all just seemed to work. All the outfits were worn with fabulous shoes, including lace up boots, which is sure to be a major trend over the next season. Some of the outfits seemed to be designed for the depths of the Arctic, which on reflection, may be the best idea with the winters we’ve experienced over the last couple of years! Quite a lot of the collection had a very regal touch to it and in the run up to the royal wedding, a lot of the audience were on the hunt for the Middleton wedding gown, asking as every model walked the runway, would Kate wear this? A couple of pieces were a little softer in lilac and almost mosaic like prints but they still had an edge to them, keeping McQueen’s influence very much alive. The silhouettes were very moulded and structured, creating pieces that women would be proud to wear, every time they wore them.
Christian Dior’s show also seemed to harvest that ‘end of an era vibe to it. Sidney Toledano, the CEO of Dior began with a speech, citing, its a ‘terrible and wrenching ordeal for us all’. And while everyone looked on to say how hard Galliano could have worked to gain our forgiveness, hit and miss is the only way to describe it. There was an almost confused aspect to the show, like Galliano couldn’t decide what colours and textures to use so decided to use all of them instead. There were loads of colours and a little red riding-esque vibe with plums, navys, velvets, ribbons, capes, hats and fur. They also had John Lennon sunglasses, dusty pink cardigans, sheer dresses and chiffon, biker boots and tweed jackets. The models had long flowing hair and carried Dior handbags, both of which clashed with each other and most of the items they were modelling. Suddenly the evening wear came out and everything went a bit…haywire. A green dress reminiscent of the 80s, albeit not in a good way, was paraded down the catwalk. Our eyes were bashed by a collection of velvet off the shoulder numbers, lace and sheer velvet trousers and sheer dresses. There was a barrage of colour, from peach to ice blue. Fabulous dresses were on offer, of course, its Dior, there is bound to be, but the misses were real misses. A couple of the dresses made the models look pregnant, the sheer dresses looked slutty rather than sexy and chic and one looked a little two much like a toilet roll dolly for my liking. Galliano, although creating beauty and art year upon year, had lost a bit of his magic. The event was a quite sombre one, not only because of the happenings of the few days previous but because the plea for forgiveness we wanted wasn’t there, we hadn’t been enthralled and enchanted as we had been the season before.
The rest of the shows weren’t as dreary however, some even had a dynamic change. Chanel had a whole new edge this season. There was a postapocalyptic sense to the clothes, almost like armour, us women fighting and defending ourselves, as Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City once said, ‘maybe we’re the white knights and we have to save ourselves’. Boiler suits and biker boots were on the agenda for the models, strutting along a wooden boardwalk across smoking piles of lava and dry ice. Most of the clothes were red and black, even the tweed suits, almost like a Hells Angels version of a tweed suits, a far cry from the pastel hue from last season. The models had minimal makeup, letting the clothes do all the talking, and they certainly did!
Mary Katrantzou, a designer I’ve said to watch for the last couple of years, really outdid herself this year with her beautifully immaculate designs. Her use of structure and prints makes her designs unique and special, relating to the Qing dynasty, making her dresses look more like works of art. She brought in new designs this season like cardigans, jackets, tunics and silk trousers in beautiful rich colours like reds, creams, champagnes, golds and lilacs. The models hairstyles were slicked back, like the Chanel models, to emphasise the beauty of the clothing.
Erdems mismatched prints created big waves at Fashion Week and will continue to next season. His fitted shift dresses are causing a big stir, especially the one that looks like Monet’s Waterlilies, with splashes of navy and scarlet. They added different styles to the agenda this season, chiffon blouses buttoned up to the neck, printed trench coats, mismatched stilettos and ankle boots. The designer has added his own little sense of rebellion into the creations, showing glam rock trouser suits and sleeveless tweed turtleneck tops for a different twist on other designers. He also tied in beautiful evening wear, floor-length silk column skirts, toga style chiffon evening dresses and velvet dresses. His designs had a vaguely cosmic feel, like looking into the solar system. He had very delicate cuts, well-fitting and likes to shake his pieces up, mixing black lace with burgundy, creating pieces that are mismatched but yet…just perfect.
Yves Saint Laurent had a very modern sexy attitude this season and focussed a lot on tailoring. The look was very feminine and forties glamour, with frock coats, tunic dresses and feathers worn into a purple tweed skirt suit. The black suits had white fur collars and even the playsuits were tweed. A lot of the evening wear was made from white silk crepe, from ruffle collared backless dresses to trompe l’oeil bustiers. There was plenty of variety from leather and PVC to tweed and there are so many trends to pull from Yves Saint Laurent this season.
Last, but certainly not least, Marc Jacobs. The space was Barbie pink, the line up included Leighton Meester, Sophia Coppola and Whoopi Goldberg…it was bound to be impressive. His collection this season was more about the intricate craftwork than anything else, as his models sashayed along the runway wearing polyester shirts and chunky wedged brogues. His designs started off covered in latex coins created scale-like patterns on the dresses and skirts. Next, the fabrics with polka dots were vaguely dominatrix and the use of applique and lace was beautiful. Both real and fake fur jackets were used, included an extraordinary gorilla-sleeved jacket that was a true show-stopper. The line was completely different to his spring collection, with medieval shapes and PVC skirts, tweed also being a major feature in the show.
All in all, the autumn/winter 2011 collection has had a complete overhaul since the spring/summer collection of this year, the use of tweed, forties glamour and fetish leather was beautiful in creating individual stunning pieces of not just fashion, but walking art as well. So you may as well start planning now, because the awesome new season is going to arrive a lot sooner than you expect!