The Spring/Summer 2019 shows, which happened towards the tail end of last year, were many, many things. While the majority of designers continued with the memo ‘you do you’, what united them was their search for an expression of female empowerment.
Running concurrent with the collections, the Kavanaugh proceedings provided the socio-political lens through which the fashion sorority viewed – and, we’ll readily admit, judged – every show!
Heated discussions were definitely had. Celine-gate sparked the white-hot debate about female authorship and agency versus that of the male designers who would define them.
And age-old bugbears such as white privilege, body negativity and ageism looked all the more unacceptable for it – even if diversity and inclusion on the runways was at an all-time high (with behind-the-scenes still very much a work in progress).
The question of how designers envision women, what a woman wears and the image she projects has become a political hot potato. The big takeaway from the season? To value those visions that really are attuned to reflecting our truth in some way so that we can do us.
1. HIPPY MODERNISM
Designers took an escapist turn with the season’s Neo Boho trend. The look is long, languid and sensual, saturated in warm desert and sunset hues at Chloé and Loewe or clashing carpet and tile prints, as at Paco Rabanne and Philip Lim.
With this trend you’ll see amulet jewellery, crochet pieces and raffia accessories, an ode to souvenirs picked up on pilgrimages to Ibiza, Joshua Tree or an ashram in India.
THE LOOK: sun-kissed hues and neutrals, clashing geometric prints, scarf dresses, artisan knits, fringing, crochet shoulder sacks.
2. COLOUR WHEEL TAILORING
The suit is a wardrobe classic (the seasonal appearance of Le Smoking at Saint Laurent is testament to that). It’s evergreen. In this case, literally, with SS19’s new take on the style. This is the season of Starburst suiting that runs the gamut in terms of colour and cut.
Skirts, shorts, trousers and jackets come in bold, bright shades that can pack a punch as a full look, as they were at Chanel and Gucci, or be mixed up with softer hues and dressed down with denim, as they were at Victoria Beckham and Giuliva Heritage Collection.
THE LOOK: colour – subtle and statement – with bold, bright shades, as well as pastels. Blazers are single-breasted, double-breasted, asymmetric-knot-fastened, and the lower half is either relaxed or fitted. Whatever the shape, it’s all about colour.
3. LOW KEY UTILITY
At his debut Louis Vuitton menswear show in June, Virgil Abloh introduced the concept of ‘accessomorphosis’: the transformation of bags and wallets into clothing. This season, everyone from Chanel to Proenza Schouler did a riff on that theme, with boxy car coats at Fendi featuring patch pockets labelled ‘Keys’, ‘Coins’ and ‘Phone’.
Proof that fourth-wave feminism can take designers down unexpected avenues, the thinking behind this trend is, presumably, if you have to multi-task, so should your clothes.
THE LOOK: patch pockets; front-loaded tool belts slung across the body; the mega-return of cargo pants in dusky hues.
4. WONKY COUTURE
Consider this SS19’s antidote to the hoodies and athleisure-wear. Fine tulle, ruffles, balloon sleeves, bubble skirts, swirls of taffeta and duchess satin, sunray pleats and personality-packed volume dresses – for Spring, everyone from Raff Simons at Calvin and Marc Jacobs to Miu Miu and Matty Bovan, made a case for the appreciation of couture dressmaking and craft skills. With its inclusive fabulousness of shape, the Valentino show received a standing ovation and marked the trend at its apotheosis.
The general rule: 50s and 60s era couture gowns reworked as shorter, less precious, more casual pieces. Wear with a pair of trainers and make this work for the every day.
THE LOOK: a devil-may-care attitude to precious, crushed cocktail sheaths; volume dresses, corsages, ostrich feathers.
5. FEATHERY ACCESSORIES
From ostrich to peacock, feathers are the new fur.
6. SQUARE TOES
We’ve been seeing a 90s revival in many ways over the last year, with slip dresses, satin skirts, fluffy accessories and, yes, even frosted lip shades making a come back. But we’ve yet to see this one 90s trope striding back down the streets, until now that is.
Back in the guise of satin pumps and flats at Erdem, giving Regency vibes and in the form of high heeled boots at Cavalli, the square toe is having a renaissance.
And if you thought square-toed shoes were a blip on the radar, you’d be wrong. The AW19 show season is currently underway, with brands like Eckhaus Latta putting square toed boots (a collaboration with UGG) on their cosiest looks.
7. SWEET VALLEY HIGH
Nostalgia is nothing new, but this throwback to early-Nineties terrestrial television is. This is Fresh Prince of Bel-Air style (no, that isn’t Ashley, with her boxy blazer, XL lapels and clashing graphics at Louis Vuitton). Think back to the word art and swirling graphics of the opening credits of Saved By The Bell and Clarissa Explains It All – but on shirts and skirts at Balenciaga and Versace.
THE LOOK: swirling terrestrial TV graphics in bold, bright shades; pastels clash with paint-stroke prints. The silhouette is top-heavy, with oversized jackets and shirts. The return of key Nineties styles: acid and light-wash denim, and the boxy blazer.