Louis Vuitton’s runway show in Paris this afternoon will bring to a close one of the strangest fashion months on record.
With coronavirus wreaking havoc on retail and supply chains, many designers chose to opt out of showing a collection altogether this season. Those that did unveil a spring/ summer 2021 offering, via a catwalk show, intimate presentation or full virtual experience, delivered a dose of the optimism and effervescence we all need so desperately right now — even if it was short on peacocking street-stylers and A-listers slouching on Frows.
From the crystal-encrusted chainmail minis at Burberry, to Isabel Marant’s glittery tops and metallic foil trousers, and the neon power suits at Balmain, designers across the board catered to our thirst for post-pandemic party outfit planning.
Elsewhere, there was an emphasis on contemporary investment pieces, with timeless classics and tried-and-tested commercial hits a focus. Victoria Beckham released perhaps her most appealing collection yet, of apple green pooling trousers, knit dresses and toffee-coloured macs. Similarly Hermès delivered an ultra-wearable collection of wardrobe workhorses: buttery leather co-ords and softly tailored trousers.
While Covid has been a deeply stressful time for most brands, the reduced materials and budgets, as well as a renewed focus on the planet, meant designers created more considered collections with fewer styles. Burberry for example showed half its usual number of looks, while Vivienne Westwood confirmed she will make only one collection a year going forward. Overall, the quest for meaning and joy were guiding themes, along with a collective yearning for rebirth.
Devilishly good details
A considered, modern minimalism prevailed and simple silhouettes with unexpected cut-out details proved popular. Key investment pieces came from Beckham, such as her long-sleeve jersey dress with ruched cut-out detail at the neckline, and Nanushka and Balenciaga’s open-back dresses had desk-to-six-person disco appeal.
Embrace the bralette
Sitting somewhere between underwear and apparel, bralettes have emerged as an excellent way to enhance assets come spring. Italian label Drome styled knit iterations over slim-fit dresses and Simone Rocha slung black-beaded versions over billowing shirts, while Tibi’s leather bralettes gave edginess to floral spring dresses. Hermès and Eudon Choi styled suits with sportier bandeau bras for a dressed-down appeal.
With all this time spent at home, you’ve probably upped the trakkies ante, but are your slippers up to sartorial scratch? Scruffy slip-ons were upgraded at Balenciaga with heeled hotel slippers and Molly Goddard showed a colourful collaboration with UGG of shaggy fur slides and platforms. In the market for something more sophisticated? The white leather clogs at Hermès were a super-chic if mildly impractical option for popping to the shops.
With sustainability at the front of our minds, brands flexed their creativity with deadstock fabric and reworked existing stock. Ganni collaborated with Levi’s to explore the potential of unsold denim, while Dolce & Gabbana and Marni reworked remnants of fabric from previous seasons. The latter hand-painted patchwork coats with conversations that designer Francesco Risso had with friends during lockdown. Sixty per cent of Gabriela Hearst’s collection was made from pre-existing and recycled materials, while Balenciaga managed 93.5 per cent — the highlight a chainmail dress crafted from basketball net chains.
All hail the upper midriff
From the cut-outs on midnight blue velvet dresses at Alessandra Rich, to the cropped pastel jumper vests seen at Etro and the pagoda-shoulder crop-tops paired with high-waisted draped midis at Balmain, designers this season can’t get enough of that bit above your belly button and below your boobs. The best part? No sit-ups required.
With our Zoom existence showing no signs of abating, designers this season continued to focus their energies on the waist up. From the totally OTT floral bonnets at Rodarte, to the chunky chains at Victoria Beckham and the surrealist face pieces at Schiaparelli, bold bling and exaggerated top-half silhouettes are a sure-fire way to hog the screen on Houseparty.
Face coverings are a fact of our “new normal” life and for spring 2021 they’re getting a high fashion makeover. Face the madness with masks to match your outfit, as seen at Alice & Olivia, Collina Strada and Christian Siriano.
An acid-bright future
There’s nothing like a neon pink suit or ultra-violet gown to lift the mood, and designers across the board got us high on Stabilo highlighter hues. Molly Goddard paired apple green dresses with bubblegum pink stockings, Balmain delivered pink and lime neon power suits and Swarovski-embellished dresses, while billowing sheer silk dresses in acid yellow, orange and lilac stole the show at Valentino. British couture house Ralph & Russo delivered a punchy line-up of jumpsuits and wafty beach dresses in sunshine sorbet hues inspired by a South American summer.
Homage to holidays
Designers transported us to far-flung destinations with maritime themes, tropical prints and beach-ready dresses. Chanel did Bermuda shorts and Versace offered a fantasy underwater world, featuring satin sparkly starfish-embroidered gowns. Burberry layered watery-print dresses under shark-embellished trench coats and Rixo and Emilia Wickstead delivered shell and boat prints respectively. The direction of travel? Italy emerged as a favourite destination, inspiring everyone from Pucci to Etro and Eudon Choi.