The fashion week calendar of the new decade started off with nothing less than spectacular. The distinguished fashion capitals of the world, initiated the cat-walk agenda with top designers ready to feed global consumer appetites that know no bounds.
From streetwear to the classics, the Autumn/Winter 20/21, left us spoilt for choice. If it was possible for some trend enthusiasts, they would press the fast-forward button, to be clad this way already.
We are in an era where vintage and futuristic details are redefining couture designs especially. Thanks to the majority broader-minded millennials and a generous handful of style-minded seniors, who are helping shape this new frontier through their pro sustainability, diversity and inclusivity traits. These tendencies are and will inevitably evoke designer minds in the direction of galactic inspired themes for near-future collections.
The different catwalks and music accompaniments were also well chosen to match the different themes and moods. From merry to melancholic, the stage works told a tale.
With these rich and lush minutiae, some exceptional designer houses gathered impressive viewership, followers and new buying clientele. From a marketing perspective, it was positioning well thought out.
Let us look at just 6 on the top best list, who encompassed the latter at both the Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks.
Balmain - An Unforgettable Bedouin Experience
Olivier Rousteing did it again. The creative director at the Parisian Maison, Balmain, is known for his invigorating mind of design. With high expectations from his fans around the world, he yet again raised his game a notch or two.
The Bedouin and desert inspired collection set off the show with sand dunes and a pyramid staircase background where the alluring male models entered the catwalk stage to give us a long-lasting memory of this Balmain collection.
For a minute, one was taken aback in thinking of the movie “The Jewel of the Nile”. Such was the mood but with a vintage and futuristic modification to the fabrics and garment silhouettes. The 80s popstar, Mc Hammer look, could not be overseen.
The colour of the desert took centre stage in this amazing collection.
Cowl neckline tops, with draping baggy trousers and space-age sandals with splashes of gold gave the illusion that the pharaoh was just around the corner.
Over-sized trench coats, jackets, pants and scarves, made of pure silk. A fabric that embodies a natural flow and cooling effect, gave the whole concept a perfect round off for the desert climate. Not to forget the marbled silk shirts and pants.
The Scottish Argyle pattern sweaters in gold and bronze or black and white, paired with denim trousers were definite winning streetwear trends to look out for, coming Autumn.
Capes in bright colours punched the colour scheme up.
And last but not least, the Balmain sunglasses, accessorized the whole ensemble to give it a Balmain polished finish.
The genius marriage of all the features and details raked in a jaw-dropping fortune of new followership and fans to stay. Paris will remember this show for a very long time.
Louis Vuitton - Sky Is the Limit Concept
The catwalk of clouds and sky set-up was most probably a surreal experience for those present in Paris. Being “on cloud 9” must have been literally felt.
Virgil Abloh, the artistic director for Louis Vuitton, has been predicting upcoming trends and it seems that his assumptions are not far off as to what was staged in the last weeks of January.
He predicted an end to the luxury streetwear he pioneered and helped take global. To that, he predicted the return of classic and good quality wardrobe pieces enunciated with vintage details.
His creations at the just wound up Paris fashion week, reflected just that.
Many classical one-buttoned suits paired with monochrome shirts and ties gave his collection a form we are surely going to see evolve at this famous fashion house.
Knitted hats in the fuchsia colour, were a soft introduction to his vintage inspired creation journey.
Frilled bell sleeves and frilled applique on shirts are also vintage details that left a smile on the faces of those acquainted with the 70s.
Another interesting detail seen on the white shirts, was the use of the Norwegian embroidery art known as Hardanger or sometimes called Whitework embroidery. A technique that is not that easy to master. A definitive plus point from those who understand this art.
Just like many of the other designers, the shoes and sneakers also took the space-age form.
Louis Vuitton is well known for its purses, bags, briefcases and travel bags. These were in plenty and without doubt, stole the show in my eyes.
For the finale, models clad in sky motif suits accentuated the “cloud 9” euphoria yet again and gave the great show a very happy ending.
Valentino - A Classical and Floral Rendezvous in Paris
Valentino is well known for sensual and awe-inspiring details.
With a soloist, piano and cello, a romantic mood was set from the word go.
The designer, Pierpaolo Piccioli, also took vintage to a new level by using graphic floral details on the garments and cherry blossoms on the model’s hair. A fusion of the 70s and some Japanese elements was a genius take to an impeccable and energetic collection.
Graphic word print details were also used as embellishment.
The dainty ensemble was pepped up with signature Valentino purses and bags.
Trousers above the ankles worn with white sneakers gave streetwear a hovering dimension.
Piccioli did not leave out the shimmer fabrics that added an accent to the sartorial splendour.
Colour accents of burgundy, red, egg-yolk and even army print, gave the whole collection a pleasant lift.
Prada – What is heroism?
Miuccia Prada took us to an antique era episode with a Palladian style double piazza catwalk set-up, in bright red, green, white and blue. The centre of the square was adorned with a 19th Century podium, with a man on a horse cardboard statue in white. Its simplicity intentionally toning down the heroic aspect.
The music went in intervals of classical and retro music.
Jackets with oversized shoulders. Knee high boots, sneakers and bags all with a vintage touch.
Sweaters inspired by Norwegian colour-work knitting and geometrical patterns on pyjama-look suits, added special effects to the collection.
There was a Viking feel in the air.
Prada is a brand with high esteem and always delivers extraordinary ensembles.
DSquared2 – Silver Anniversary Celebration in Milan
What a touching show!
Dean and Dan Caten celebrated their label of 25 Years with memorable moments on screen video to start their show. This built an expectant tension of the collection in store.
The twins who have set their mark in the world of couture design, were humble beginners who through the years of experience, have chiselled their own identity, respect and success in this extremely competitive niche.
The pioneer and Western inspired pieces seemed to reflect and revisit their own past creations. This again saw us delve into vintage details of sublime quality.
An oversize top and narrow below silhouette, moulded the jackets and trousers of fake furs, leather, jeans and tweeds. Earth tones and bronze blended well for the pioneer details.
The shoes with the Western elements, as we all know them, graced the catwalk in heavy stack heels.
With a disco music theme accompanying the show, Sister Sledge added to the jubilation and gave the twins a live and deserved salute with their hit single from the late 70s, “We Are Family”.
What a way to close the show. Happy Anniversary, DSquared2!
Gucci – Embracing the Man Child in Men
The show called, Rave Like You Are Five, closed the Milan Fashion Week with a celebration of childhood for the male child. A Gothic extravaganza to close the Milan Fashion Week.
The giant galactic-like pendulum, formed the centre piece of the catwalk that emitted an aura of undiscovered territories of the human mind and expression.
This was an explosive show accompanied by Marilyn Manson’s music version of “Sweet dreams”.
The clothes in miniature expression and vintage touch were accessorized by the Gucci classics like the loafers, jewellery and sunglasses. And the Gucci handbag in different variations was all present.
Alessandro Michele, creative director at Gucci, sought the inspiration by looking at children’s clothes in markets. The mentality of the Generation Z, the children that are not afraid of change, with Greta Thunberg leading the list, also gave him added inspiration.
The show largely consisted of male models, which is unlike Gucci, that showcases with both genders most of the time.
Michele who is an ambassador for diversity, presented the press notes on lined school notepaper pleading for a kinder and more feminised maleness.
The collection left one dazed in thought. A very mind engaging collection.
Using fashion as a voice to raise awareness for any muted causes is a new and promising frontier.
Pitti Immagine Uomo
Let us not forget this convention that also focuses on menswear. It took place from 7 - 10 January inside the walls of the iconic Fortezza da Basso in Florence, Italy.
Pitti is seen by many obsessives as the home of true menswear.
The streetstyle at Pitti tends to look quite different from that of Milan, Paris and London. The traditional menswear and modern streetwear meet here to discover new inspirations.
There was impeccable tailoring, shoemaking and beautiful accessories from different brands represented and showcased by over 1200 exhibitors and savoured by around 21,400 buyers.
The fruits of constant research into materials, manufacturing techniques and clever stylistic innovation, alongside more refined communication and promotion strategies, were felt in Florence more than ever before.
Designers who attended the Pitti were names like Tagliatore, Brunello Cucinelli, Walker Slater, Cruciani, Stetson, Grenfell and Carmina, just to name a few.
I talked to the French-Canadian menswear enthusiast, consultant and blogger, Guillame Bo and this is what he had to say about Pitti, “Pitti Uomo is the seismograph of the global trends of the market and lifestyle. Florence is the place where you meet the international fashion community; to discover new products, new sensitivities, new cultural impulses. The biggest fair in the world dedicated to menswear.”
With this event taking place twice a year, you can lock the dates for the second event this year that takes place from 16 - 19 June.
London Fashion Week
London Fashion Week has traditionally been the most exclusive event of London's fashion calendar. The first of the bi-annual events will take place from the 14 – 18 February. 250 Designer brands are expected to showcase at this prestigious event.
Earlier this month the London Men’s Fashion Week, initiated the fashion mood in preparation for the main event.
The line-up featuring many designers with eco-conscious practices showcased with sustainability being in the spotlight.
The harness, straps and belts details took centre stage. These were commonly attached to tailored garments.
Hussein Chalayan finished the suit jackets and overcoats with chest straddling attachments and button-down straps.
Charles Jeffrey suits were fastened with oversize safety pins.
At Jordan Luca the finishing was done with belt buckles and straps.
Bethany Williams wrapped the model’s chests with harnesses in their purest form.
LFW will be the first of the four global fashion weeks to offer a dynamic programme designed for both trade and the public audience.
Temperley London and De La Vali will both be hosting catwalk shows open to the public on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th February 2020.
Redefining the Future of Fashion
In summary, we can agree that the European Fashion Weeks have started the decade with fresh twists and out-of-the-box ideas, that are geared to promoting sustainability as they join their global counterparts in designing innovations that uplift diversity and inclusivity.
Fashion is a powerful communication tool and if utilized to its fullest potential, the benefits and rewards it can suffice for our planet would be enormous.
It’s with this notion in mind that fashion makers and consumers have events that help mingle the thoughts and expectations of both brackets.
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