This was an unprecedented, fragmented runway season, where there was little industry consensus on just what fashion week should look like right now. Some influential designers, like Michael Kors and Marc Jacobs, decided not to show altogether. Others saw the strange season as an opportunity for reset. Canadian Tanya Taylor, for example, is releasing images in February when the spring collection will be available for buying, and opted instead to use her New York Fashion Week (NYFW) time slot to promote a video encouraging voter registration for the U.S. presidential election. In fact many brands opted to promote their Spring/Summer 2021 collection with digital lookbooks and videos in lieu of a traditional runway show.
Still, a substantial number of designers, especially in Milan and Paris, proceeded with intimate showroom appointments for buyers and media, socially distant runway shows, and even audience-less catwalk presentations — Burberry held its show in a forest without any guests in attendance.
All in all, it was a highly eclectic season where originality of format was paramount to getting attention: the Moschino collection was shown on 30-inch marionettes made by The Jim Henson Company and Raf Simons and Miuccia Prada did a Q&A after the Prada livestream on IGTV. There seemed to be more freedom for designers to reconsider the scale and focus of their brands within the fashion system; on Vogue Runway, some new collections feature just seven looks, while others include more than 70.
Regardless, despite the season’s myriad challenges, the pared-down spring collections did present many great trends and styles that you’ll be excited to wear in the new year. Here are seven fashion trends you should know for Spring 2021.
Fashionable face coverings
Unsurprisingly, face coverings of all types are having a high fashion moment. Models at Anna Sui, Christian Siriano, Bora Aksu and Rick Owens wore chic, reusable face masks that coordinated with their runway looks. French designer Marine Serre, who has been offering cloth masks for several seasons, introduced face shields for spring. And at Kenzo and Thom Browne, sheer fabric panels extended from hats and hoods to create dreamy, veil-like face coverings.
We spotted off-shoulder necklines on tops, dresses and coats this season at shows like Fendi, Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini, Ellery, Nina Ricci and RVNG. A popular trend for eveningwear, this pretty shape can also work for daytime separates — just look for a tailored design and structured fabric. And you can layer in a plain black or white tank top for a more casual, youthful take on the trend (example).
While some designers have definitely simplified and modified their collections for the times, others are doubling down on glamour and special-occasion dressing. At Simone Rocha, Loewe, and Christian Siriano, for example, it’s all about volumunous shapes for Spring 2021. The best part about these bold, sculptural looks? They’re a veritable party on their own — no heels, jewelry or fancy makeup required.
Black and white, spliced
Graphic black and white patterns are always in fashion. This season, there were interestingly spliced black and white looks at Ports1961, Ellery, Gabriela Hearst, Zero + Maria Cornejo, Yohji Yamamoto and more. For Marni, designer Francesco Risso even offers a number of half-black, half-white shoes and sneakers.
Used as a graphic overlay or textural underlayer, oversized fishnet textiles, chains and knits added detail and depth to the collections at Burberry, David Koma, Dries Van Noten and Balenciaga. At Simone Rocha, the “netting” was embellished with pearls and crystals, and used on everything from dresses to purses to hair coverings. Maybe for Spring 2021, fishnet is the new lace?
You may not need to wear handbags very often these days, but some designers are betting that when we do venture out in the new year, it will be with a super-sized style. For example, there were extra large, slouchy bags at Acne Studios and Sportmax, and structured leather totes at Boss and Valentino. Designed neither for the office nor the weekend (what are those boundaries even?), these new carryalls will fit your must-haves items for virtually any excursion.
As consumers increasingly prioritize functionality and comfort in fashion, it’s no wonder that flats and flatform shoes dominated the runways for spring. Notably, there were gladiator sandals at Alaïa and Ports1961, embellished slides at JW Anderson, leather thong sandals at Kenzo and Acne Studios, and countless studded ballet flats at Valentino. Hooray for a season full of stylish walking shoes!
Truc Nguyen is a Toronto-based writer, editor and stylist. Follow her at @trucnguyen.