I’m sorry this post is so late! I really have no excuse apart from all my mental energy being taken up by shooting and editing my Euphoria lookbook up until now and me being too much of a lazy, nap-loving twat to face the mammoth task of a fashion month review; honestly, by the time it’s done, it’s like a dissertation-level amount of characters, so let’s say the final push to get this out is in sympathy with all my 3rd year friends I started uni with finishing their ACTUAL dissertations.
Things have got scary since I originally started saving the photos for this post, and the world has been turned upside down. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the likes of which have not been seen since the Spanish Flu, Italian Vogue’s April cover was blank. As I’m writing this, 26,000+ people have died of coronavirus in Italy, the worst affected country behind the U.S in terms of sheer numbers ( though quick update: as I post this, I’m pretty sure our incompetent prick of a PM has made sure we’re up there too). Proportionally, the actual death rate is even higher, along with a handful of other European countries. There have been some complaints made about the cover and it’s supposed “lack of imagination”; all I know is that in a country whose death toll accounts for 10% of worldwide coronavirus deaths, something of a visual silence feels appropriate.
That being said, for me, writing is one of the only things giving me a sense of purpose right now. Yeah, surprise surprise, working in a grocery store isn’t all that fulfilling. Who would’ve thought it? So what better time to reflect on a time when all the rich people of the world were going about their lives as usual and sitting front row at fashion week rather than crying on Instagram live to their millions of followers about how trapped they feel in their 10 bedroom mansions.
I’ve got to say, this year’s A/W offerings were a lot better than I expected, mostly due to the fact that I’m not generally a big fan of winter fashion; it’s hard to be disappointed given my preconceptions! There’s only so many knits and coats and jeans you can see before it begins to get a bit tiring, and I expected that to be reflected in the presentations. Fortunately, even the brands which are known for their bohemian, Coachella-esque collections generally managed to translate that into something recognisable and consistent on the runway whilst actually being weather appropriate. Of course, there were a few disappointments-I’m sure if I say one of them begins with D, you can guess which brand I’m talking about-but that was more than made up for by the standouts. Gucci in particular was my 2013 Tumblr wet dream and the Moschino show was what I can only describe as a live continuation of Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, though I’ll stop with my praise there and wait til I get to actually reviewing before I go overboard with kissing Alessandro Michele’s ass. And on that note, in chronological order, I’ll get one with the reviews! First up, Acne:
Continuing on a winning streak when it comes to catering to my personal preferences (if someone tries to tell me designers don’t care about my personal preferences I’m going to whack out that “just found out the world doesn’t revolve around me, shocked and upset” Marina Diamandis tweet), Acne once again channels futuristic hippy commune living in a dystopian wasteland. I know, those are very specific personal preferences
I love the shredded hems and the burnt velvet, the rawness of it all, and the baroque/your-nan’s-wallpaper patterns are actually a surprisingly nice touch. I imagine if Giselle from Enchanted had to make her dresses out of a thrifty goth’s curtains rather than an upper-middle-class New Yorker’s, they’d look something like this collection. You’ve even got the odd bit of classic fresh Scandi tailoring in there with the oversized coats and blazers which holds it back from being a bit TOO flea market. Plus, the renaissance painting detailing on the black leather-look coat is a stunning detail as well; I’m so glad it seems this trend is here to stay, why wouldn’t I want random nude bodies all over my clothes?
As for the styling, I can’t get enough of the tousled hair. As an eternally tired person who can’t be arsed to pick up a brush most of the time, I feel represented. Along with the outfits, it says “I’m an art student/transient painter in the 70s living in a city loft who smokes a lot of weed and does acid on the regular” and that is a life worth manifesting.
Alberta Ferretti was dreamy, and a perfect example of how to translate the bohemian aesthetic of their S/S show to A/W. Somehow despite the furs, ruffles (pussy-bows under tailored jackets and knits/generally heavier pieces always looks really chic imo), tulle, metallic tapestry style prints and chunky jewellery, it all still looks very effortless, like a natural continuation of what we saw last summer; the typically masculine structure of the oversized suits with the ornate patterns and the accessories lends to the careful navigation along the line where maximalism and minimalism meet, the looks as practical as they are decorative. Picture it: you work some high-flying, powerful job in the city, commute on a motor cycle and roll up in one of these suit sets. This collection is for the edgy businesswoman who is completely comfortable telling all the twattish males she works with where to stick it and I want to be her.
The evening gowns are, of course, stunning too. In this analogy where I am a powerful businesswoman and not a pushover who works at a grocery store right now and only beefs with rude customers, I would be wearing one of them to the boujie work Christmas party. The ruffled dresses remind me of something Valentino would put out with the colour palette and the ruffles, and whilst we’re on the topic of colour palettes, this one is beautiful. The lilac and hot pink is SO right.
Though predictable, Alessandra Rich is just as much of a treat as usual, the first brand you’d go to if you were styling a throwback it-girl, Chanel Oberlin in Scream Queens if it took place 30 years earlier. Reminiscent of an amalgamation of vintage Chanel and Versace, there are so many cute details I love here, from the white tights with the black heels and the double breasted blazers to the gold chainlink belts and the pearls. The tartan suits with the shoulder padding are very Heathers, the prints the best of your mum’s 80s wardrobe, and nobody else out there is doing bows as well as this; these are the outfits that prissy bitch wears in the cartoons of my childhood that turn out to actually be quite good fashion inspo 15 years later, Trixie Tang from Fairly Odd Parents I’m looking at you.
This girl was the blueprint.
I think someone like Lilly Collins or Daphne Groeneveld would be an ideal fit for any of these looks, or Lana Del Rey if she wanted to stop serving us middle-aged suburban soccer mom and took us back to those H&M ad campaign days. Lana stans please don’t come for me for saying that, I am one of you; I say this because I love her. It’s all altruistic.
Whilst I admittedly didn’t love it as much as last summer’s, I really enjoyed the Alexander McQueen collection too, plus I had a better idea of what to expect this time round; no, we’re not gonna get a repeat of the Plato’s Atlantis show but we do always get some beautiful pieces. Again, like with Alberta Ferretti, this seems like a natural continuation of what we saw in the summer, just with adjustments made for the colder, darker, and altogether moodier months. A/W being the gothier older sister of S/S, it seems right that a lot of the looks turn their back on the ethereal, almost fairy-like feel of what we saw before and embrace the vampier side, reds and blacks (the ultimate Bratz Rock Angels colour combination), plenty of dramatic structures and formidable suit sets. It’s punk but it’s classy, and even with the lighter pieces, we’ve got the grunge inspired harnesses on top to contrast with the elegance and effectively, toughen the whole look up, something Gucci does well too.
The patterned suits with the clunky boots in particular are very cool and I need a gun metal grey heart detailing harness, but undoubtedly the MOMENT of this collection is Adut Akech in what appears to be a silver chainmail dress. She looks like an Amazonian goddess, and whilst I could never dream of pulling something like that off myself, I could happily admire her in it for hours.
There wasn’t much to get excited about at Altuzarra. The collection was very elegant for sure and the feathered belts are cute but it was all quite pedestrian and nothing new-the only detail I really like is the cut out on the second dress from the left, 3rd row down.
As for Anna Sui:
I’m not altogether sure why I wanted to review it. A lot of the outfits as a whole are a bit messy, and not in that avant-garde, expensive-looking Margiela kind of way, just in a “how many fabrics can we possibly get on this model” kind of way. Plus, the styling seems weirdly outdated-a lot of the jewellery looks like the kind of thing you’d see if you searched “gothic choker” on Ebay and ordered the results from low to high, and the makeup and hair in particular is very 2012 Tumblr fashion blogger. Backcombed hair and red lipstick? We’ve got a Zoella thumbnail on our hands.
When the collection did go down the bohemian route though (and when that route wasn’t a failed attempt at what Etro does a lot better), there were a few nice pieces and prints. I mean you really can’t go wrong with a teal fur trimmed coat.
Ashish, on the other hand, took their aesthetic from a similar era and did it a lot more creatively and kookily; this collection looks a lot more deserving of being on a runway. The prints are so loud and costume-y that at times the garments risk looking like something you’d wear at a decades themed dress up party, but they’re saved by understated and much more commercial silhouettes, plus some gorgeous hair and make up. On the whole, very groovy, unintentional disco queen, despite the few risks that didn’t quite pay off.
Next is a brand I always look forward to. In the words of Myrtle Snow:
Seriously though, if any brand knows how to blend costume and high fashion, it’s them. They take over-the-top, almost absurd silhouettes and turn them into theatre. This year we’re taking it in the direction of Phantom of the Opera, I guess? Dracula? The Woman in Black? An off-broadway production of Harry Potter where Snape is the protagonist? Whatever the direction of the collection is, I live for the dramatics of it all. Demna Gvasalia got these models walkin’ down the runway like they’re members of the Volutri, which is a reference you should all understand given the renaissance Twilight is having online atm.
Straight off the bat, I adore the staging, and all the models are exquisite-the theme of the show was climate change, and I always love when there’s a story behind the presentation of the clothes. I can’t imagine how amazing this must have been to witness in person, though I’m guessing equal parts mystical and intimidating. There are so many things I love here: billowing coats, cinched in waists, the pattens that are sprinkled sparingly in amongst the black, and the bloody shoulder pads that almost run PARALLEL to the model’s necks. This is really a collection that Myrtle Snow would be proud of and brb whilst I get rid of my padlock necklaces in favour of putting whatever meagre amount I can get for them on Depop towards a Balenciaga padlock belt (as if, lol, I don’t even think selling my soul would cover it).
And then there’s Balmain, which isn’t always the fashion critic’s favourite, but which I do tend to like.
I mean there are some really good takeaways here-though the 80s inspired suit, as wearable as they are, can get a little repetitive, they are staples which here seem to pave the way for Olivier Rousteing to try something new for the brand. The moulded breast plates (reminiscent of the Tom Ford one Zendaya wore though I’m not sure which came first!), for example, along with the Matador-style capes and the flowing silk dresses are the most glamorous incarnation of Lara Croft one can possibly imagine, probably just as equally suited for a Roman goddess as they are for an Assassins Creed style action heroine. And yes, I am aware of the fact that Tomb Raider and Assassins Creed are two separate games, okay! I just don’t know enough about the visuals of either to firmly plant this collection in the camp of either one, so I’m going down the crossover route with it!
Not to say there weren’t any bad choices-I omitted a good portion of the looks that were shown; there were definitely pieces that I found to be a little tacky, particularly a recurring chain print which has got to be one of my least favourite patterns out there. Overall, though, it’s gonna be the richly coloured art-deco prints, the wet-look boots and the gem-encrusted scorpion brooch which stick with me, so I’ll let it slide.
Bottega Veneta was very meh; even of the looks I picked out, there are a lot I’m now looking back at and wishing I hadn’t included. Some of the men’s pieces are nice, sure, and I feel like one of those vaguely sick, victorian ghost looking male celebrities everyone obsesses over (Timothée Chalamet and Dane DeHaan I’m looking at you) would make those suits on the second row look fine af, but it’s mostly the womenswear that I’m here for and on this occasion it wasn’t great. A couple of the coats are nice and that’s about it. Like I really had to act as if the tassels weren’t there on a lot of the clothes and go from there because I really don’t like them in this context and if I was to veto looks purely on one of the garments having tassels, there’d be nothing to show or reference when giving my opinion on the show. They were EVERYWHERE. In a summer collection, done right, they can be a nice detail but here they just feel unnecessary and if I’m being honest, are quite ugly.
Thank god for Brock taking the sour Bottega Veneta tassel taste out of my mouth. Never a let down. Literally, everything they put out sends me into a daze of imagining I’m in some romantic drama wearing one of the pieces, in a man’s idea of “no makeup”, running round in a field looking forlorn and windswept because my ghostly lover has-
Okay, you get the picture. I’ve never read Wuthering Heights, but it goes something like that, right? If not, lets just say envisioning myself in any of these catapults me straight into some period drama where I’m born into wealth and sit by my mansion window looking sad all the time and writing poetry and lusting over some stuffy upper-class man I can’t have and who is probably played by Colin Firth because I’m pretty sure that’s what happens in most of them (about to enrage my future English lit undergraduate sister with that line).
Nobody does modest, muted sexy to such a masterful degree. I mean, when Maison Marigela did face veils I was just mildly afraid, but here they’re subtle enough that they’re quite beautiful and almost other-worldly, acting as some kind of boundary between this world and the past that Brock aims to recapture through its designs-the red lip popping out from underneath is a perfect touch too. I don’t like it AS much as the summer collection but I would say that’s solely on the basis of the more autumn/winter appropriate colour scheme and the heavier fits, which is just a personal preference. I mean, I’m usually not a fan of empire waistlines at all and Brock even manages to make that work.
Burberry this season was a real mixed bag, mostly due to the styling. There are some really gorgeous, London back alley vintage shop looking pieces, especially the 70s style coats, reminiscent of outerwear a slimy record exec would’ve worn back in the day repurposed by someone like Alexa Chung or Zoe Kravitz or whichever effortlessly cool woman it is we all want to be-also the private boy’s school rugby gear looking shit is classic Burberry and I’m a fan of that, even though it’s not the most inventive or exciting. I just don’t get why there had to be SO much ill-fitting plaid over ill-fitting plaid. Again, like with Bottega Veneta, I thought the menswear was a lot stronger; whilst I wasn’t really wowed by anything, it seemed a lot less forced, whereas a few of the womenswear looks gave me the vibe of a design team desperately grasping onto some ill-conceived ideas of street style and relevancy.
The design team at Carolina Herrera for example, know their niche. They never try to be something they’re not, always sublimely preppy and pretty and predictable-when it comes to target market, the bag is reliably secured. Laid- back princess dresses never get old for those constantly “summering” in one expensive coastal town or another, for the rich American moms attending charity galas and the Spencer Hastings and Blair Waldorfs of the world; women with glossy hair and fresh faces who act as if they woke up looking like that polished but are actually anal as hell and take 2 hours to get ready and would NEVER, I repeat NEVER, shit in a public toilet.
Yes, I managed to worm toilet habits into a review of a Carolina Herrera collection. I’m sorry. Enough with the pearl clutching.
Next is Celine:
I mean, when there are THIS many looks, it’s hard not to find something you like, and though VERY predictable and verging on lazy when you’re putting out the same shit every collection, Celine’s aesthetic is so similar to my own ideal style, it’s hard to be mad at it. That being said, a lot of the pieces, as per usual, came across as cheap YSL knock offs; the overall outfits are cute, but the more you look at the details-it particularly pained me to include a metal bow belt and an ill-fitting velvet skater skirt but I liked the rest of the outfits-the worse it gets. Please, PLEASE someone drive it home to Hedi Slimane, I’m begging you: QUALITY NOT QUANTITY. I get what he’s going for, 70s hipster Jane Birkin is a vision I can very much get behind, but not when it seems to be so rushed.
With the men’s looks, you can get away with it a lot more; when so much of menswear is so plain and unchanging, the slightest hint of Mick Jagger is enough to make a outfit edgy. But even then, I still feel like we’re seeing a load of variations of the same outfit. There are always some pieces that catch my eye, this time round the capes and the velvet blazers, and I would wear most of these things, sure, however I don’t think the combinations SHOULD necessarily look like something I’d personally put together; a runway collection is supposed to be aspirational and cutting edge, not pedestrian (entirely intentional self-drag, lol). Also, side note, the lack of diversity really bothered me. 111 looks and not one of these models has a body type that is naturally achievable for most people. It’s 2020 for fuck’s sake. I’m tired.
SO, let’s liven things up a bit with the Central Saint Martins collection, a breath of fresh air in terms of diversity (though a few more plus-size models would be nice):
As a former University of London student, I hate to heap praise upon them. If you’ve studied in London as well, you’ll know CSM students are ANNOYING. I mean, I’m sure they’re lovely as individuals but you can’t fully understand the meaning of the word pretentious until you’ve seen a group of them at a Uniqlo Tate Late. That being said, they are very good at what they do and I’m so glad that Vogue Runway includes them; this is what Off-White thinks it is, and really it makes sense that a bunch of current fashion students are able to come together to present one of the most experimental and forward-thinking shows of this season.
And let’s talk about the RANGE. From catsuits worthy of comic book heroes to dresses Twiggy would’ve worn in a 1960s editorial, every subgenre of fashion has been fully delved into here. Whilst we’ve got the adrogyny of the suits and suspenders combo and kitschy gender-bending co-ords David Bowie would be proud of, at the other end of the scale we’ve also got models walking down the runway dressed like wood nymphs or some other kind of siren-like creatures. There’s looks that wouldn’t be out of place in a Gucci or Come Des Garcons collection but at that same time would be equally at home in a Berlin techno club.
Honestly, credit where credit’s due-it was a really interesting show and I wouldn’t expect anything less.
Chanel was quite literally the polar opposite of the CSM show.
It’s crazy because before you properly get INTO fashion, Chanel is like the epitome of style. And then you do, and you see the runway shows get lazier and lazier (with some exceptions) every year, and you realise that same prestige that had you aware of Chanel at the age of 7 or 8 is literally all that’s keeping the brand going at this point. I’m not saying the collection is flat out ugly, a lot of it’s cute, but you’re CHANEL for fuck’s sake. Yeah, I like the crucifixes but SCALLOPED HEMS!? No. I do NOT recall travelling back in time to witness Primark’s Spring 2013 collection on the runway and I am NOT having it.
It’s not at all surprising that a lot of the time newer brands Charlotte Knowles (above) tend to be more interesting than those more established-and yes that was a Chanel indirect if the transition wasn’t obvious.
With no room to rest on laurels or reputation, everything has to be bolder and smarter and more distinctive and most importantly, has to appeal to its target market with the fervour of an L.A sign spinner. I only found out about Charlotte Knowles because of a Vogue article citing her as Bella Hadid’s new favourite brand to wear, and once I saw the collection, it was clear why; daringly modern, slick, and edgy is both her street style (say what you want about her as a model but her outfit game is unbeaten) and Knowles’ USP to a T. If Dion Lee, Off-White, GCDS and Acne had an orgy, this would be the result, and that is a GOOD compliment.
Not a huge amount to say, to be honest. Low-key, wearable, and cute. Like Emma Roberts’ Nancy Drew if she did an autumn exchange program at the Sorbonne and studied art history, libraries and coffee shops on the weekdays and galleries and protests at the weekend. On reflection, that definitely makes this collection sound more exciting than it is but there are some effortlessly beautiful pieces here. The 4th row in particular is full of stand outs-the vest with the watercolour faces on with the shirt underneath is perfection, and the burgundy suit with the saffron ruffled collar peeking out from underneath is adorable and not at all reminiscent of the Ronald McDonald inspired nightmare that any combination of red and yellow tones should theoretically be.
As for Christian Siriano, I see why people hate it, I really do. I understand that it seems kinda unfair to have it show the same week as Brock and Rodarte and Oscar de La Renta. We’re talking 2 very different kinds of quality here. BUT, at pure face value, his clothes are FUN, plus Coco Rocha will always have a special place in my heart as someone who lived on The Face and America’s Next Top Model and every show that could possibly give me an unhealthy body image ever.
Like are you telling me you wouldn’t wear these dresses to a party!? Live a little. They just need tailoring…which ideally would be done BEFORE the model’s walking down the runway in it but…you know…can’t have it all.
Christopher Kane is a show I always look forward to.
I would say his designs are the only thing that make geometry look fun but I’m going to expose myself and admit that would be a lie because I actually found geometry really fun. Trigonometry was my shit, lol.
He is a designer who perfectly demonstrates that juggling interseasonal consistency and taking risks can be done. There’s always something DIFFERENT about his collections, fresh and subtly experimental. There are occasionally a few misses, sure, but I’d rather that than for a brand to keep playing safe, plus he never goes too far in the opposite direction either; no going weird for the sake of weird. I don’t like it AS much as the summer collection but it’s mostly because of the more muted, autumn/winter appropriate colour palette.
Comme Des Garçons? Too weird?
Honestly when it comes to a CDG collection, I have to really shift my perspective to appreciate it. I’m not looking at fashion presentation, I’m looking at a moving piece of experimental art. I know, it’s a stretch. But you know you’ll never be bored by one of their shows. Not gonna lie, this specific collection crossed the line into plain ugly a couple of times for me. We had padding so extravagant it looked like several models were walking round with Ikea pillows stuck to their chest and headdresses reminiscent of the kids’ game Headbandz. In amongst that though, we did get some gorgeous veils like the ones seen above and the shoes and socks combo is actually quite wearable.
I’d say Dilara Findikoglu is the cut-off point after which things get a little too avant-garde for my personal taste, and it hovers over that cut-off point flawlessly; despite the other-worldly elements of her collections, they remain somewhat grounded by nods towards conventional fashion that allow the beauty, be it inner or outer, of the wearer to shine through. Comme Des Garcons garments undeniably have character but they tend to swallow up any trace of the individual underneath, whereas the character of Dilara Findikoglu garments seamlessly merges with the wearer and in turn elevates both to something transcendent and ethereal. If the Pussycat Dolls got transported into a rugged, post-apocalyptic future, they’d scrape together these outfits to perform in, I know it; the energy of the collection, with the body jewellery and the frayed cut outs and the chalk white faces, is very warrior princess, just as raw and intimidating as it is hot as fuck, and I want that energy in my life. Along with a Dilara belt, of course. I would wear her name like a badge of honour anytime she wants. Dilara, pls pls let me be part of your tribe. PLEASE.
Anyway, this is where I thought I’d cut things off, so as to end on a positive note. You know what that means: Dior is coming up. I feel bad knowing my first post was defending Maria Grazia and yet here I am now, looking at the bar down on the floor, but I mean, you never know; maybe girl is doing this on purpose and one day she’s gonna come out with a Gucci level quality show like a phoenix from the ashes.
If you got this far, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR READING even if you’re just here for the pics. Part 2 will be covering some of my most anticipated shows from Elie Saab, Fendi and Etro to Gucci and Moschino, Miu Miu and Marc Jacobs, and everything in between. Yes, the shitty ones too.
I’m plowing through all the material as quick as I can so I hope to get the next post up really soon, and yes-you can count on the overwhelming sense of needing to be productive pushing me into fulfilling that statement.