There is no question that if you had to hang fall 2019 on a theme, it would be the renewed love affair with tailoring and haberdashery, and an overall dressed up mood. But there is a flip side to every coin and fall runways were all over the place and often contradictory.
Sure, there were collections that were the epitome of chic in a straightforward traditional way (Ralph Lauren, Saint Laurent, Brandon Maxwell, a nominee for the 2019 CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year). But there were some that were nontraditional in their approach to glamour, if not a little offbeat, eccentric and quirky (put together but not quite) thanks to the use of odd coupling mixes, incongruous pairings, and high contrasts that on paper, might not seem to work. And that is precisely why they do. There’s a nutty charm and an imperfection that I find to be relevant and modern; crazy mixed-up clothes for a crazy mixed-up world! While there has been a move away from head to toe street wear and athletic wear, neither have completely disappeared. Designers have found inventive ways to add a dose of each, not to mention touches of utility, to offset and downplay the otherwise ladylike, couture like and dressed up.
Fashion bipolarity: the push and pull between beauty and the beast, the decorative and the plain, masculine and feminine, day and evening, fantasy and reality, street wear and couture, is nothing new for Miuccia Prada. Her fall 2019 runway, dubbed “Anatomy of Romance” highlighted Miuccia’s ongoing fashion schizophrenia. While she showed a variety of shoes, including classic high heeled pumps and athletic trainers, pavement pounding thick crepe sole lace up boots were ubiquitous. They were shown with almost everything, from army green utility pieces to frocks made of sturdy menswear fabrics, and cocktail dresses and pencil skirts emblazoned with 3-D floral corsages.
Heavy lug soled lace up boots similarly brought everything down to reality at Alexander McQueen, including the dreamy eveningwear. Sarah Burton, the 2019 CFDA International Award honoree, used them effectively throughout her powerfully beautiful collection inspired by Northern England (her home). It emphasized Savile row tailoring, amazing workmanship, sculptural details and construction.
High contrasts were at the heart of Riccardo Tisci’s second collection for Burberry which he named “Tempest,” in reference to “contrasts in British culture and weather.” It was dedicated to “the youth of today, to them having the courage to scream for what they believe in, for them to find the beauty in expressing their voice.” Riccardo wants to promote inclusivity and he is seeking to make the fabled British brand cross generational in its appeal. While there was much emphasis on tailoring and outerwear (naturally) Tisci often added elements of street wear (yes, lots of trainers) and punkish undertones (both of which he has been known for).
The weather, or specifically, climate change, served as the jumping off point for Marine Serre a young highly inventive designer who always has a point of view. Her clothes never look like anyone else’s; from the signature bodysuits, the crescent moon motif, the coin decorations, and futuristic influences, to the inventive use of scarves, floating around the body, along with faux fur fonds.
Paco Rabanne’s Julien Dossena took a breather from the label’s signature futuristic chain mail and focused instead on “special” pieces for a collection that was a wonderful hodgepodge mixing reference points, influences, fabrics, patterns, and decades.
JW Anderson’s London runway show, which emphasized offhanded mixes, was quirky, youthful, and couture like and was perfectly accessorized down to the massive gold chain chokers, the large diamante brooches, wide leather belts, and whimsical feather trimmed footwear. His beautifully constructed jackets, coats and capes, were offset with terrific mannish wide legged trousers, which were proposed for both day and evening.
Khaite’s Catherine Holstein, who was just named as a nominee in the 2019 CFDA Emerging Designer of the Year category, played with contrasts between day and evening, masculine and feminine, conventional and unconventional in her first formal runway show held in Brooklyn Her first outfit set the tone: a ball skirt made of white cotton poplin paired with a white ribbed sweater with balloon sleeves. It was accessorized with leather boots, a capacious work ready leather tote bag, and one of her fabulous new statement making belts. Is it day or is it evening? I guess it’s for you to decide.
Almost no collection was as charmingly quirky as that of Simon Porte Jacquemus whose eponymous label is an ongoing homage to his elegant mother, and to his Provencal home. While the focus was on updated ladylike classics (coats, fisherman knit sweaters, skirts, dresses, cargo pants, trouser suits) that could be considered to be the epitome of elegant Parisian chic, it was the unorthodox way he played with scale and proportion (oversized hoop earrings, capacious slouchy shoulder bags, utilitarian belt bats that looked as though they could fit your worldly possessions, and teeny tiny doll size bags) that added the fun, joie de vivre spirit.