BORDEAUX, France — This forthcoming fall/winter season, looks will change from springy “Mad Men” inspiration to the style of British drama “Downton Abbey.” Men-inspired looks from the ’20s, a bit of Gatsby and a bit of Hemingway will accent womenswear. This isn’t to say womenswear will be masculine, but that menswear-inspired pieces, such as long angular jackets belted at the waist or tartan and plaid patterns, will define looks.
Is big always better? There are two distinct silhouettes that sauntered down Paris runways: a tailored hourglass silhouette and a voluminous silhouette. The hourglass silhouette is not the “bombshell” kind; it is tailored and turns the body into sharp contrasting triangles balanced on their apex. The aerodynamic line creates a sense of power and strength, with the crispness of the contours, and the sharp and distinct angles. Voluminous looks tended to be heavier on the top than on the bottom: bigger coats or boxy jackets paired with skinny jeans; shoulders bulked up with padding that were soft and less angular; structured yet soft peplum blouses and dresses. It seemed to be more about swaddling than swaggering–the upsizing in coats and jackets offers an idea of protection against the cold, providing refuge inside all the pomp and exaggeration.
New York City’s fashion week saw a lot of Venus in fur, with soft black leathers that resembled silk cloth and furs, fake or real. Milan, on the other hand, was more colorful and embraced patterns and color blocking. Wallpaper patterns from the 1970s were extremely popular, as were invented patterns in fuchsias in golds. When in doubt, mod black and white always suffice. London provided glimpses of “Downton Abbey”-inspired fashions, while Paris was spring-inspired in its fall/winter predictions with pastel color palettes and frills.
One style all agreed upon was pleats. Traditional three-quarter-length pleats in silk skirts, and two-toned versions played with contrasting fabrics. There were also fan shapes and sharp accordion styles, as well as origami inspirations. The swish of a pleated skirt is a perennial fashion statement that never loses its appeal.
Another popular style was a play with peek-a-boo down below: see-through pants or skirts, achieved with chiffons, revealed without giving it all away. The same see-through styles appeared in tops as well, but were more subtle.
In the accessory department, chunky, clanging bangles are on the way out; elevator grille cuffs exude greater elegance, and without the danger of slipping off. As for necklaces and the like, colored beads are favored, especially in natural themes and resin gems, embalming faux bees and other insects on chains. Not exactly your grandmother’s pearls, but expect to see a lot more Diana-inspired moonstone rings or sapphires this season.
Running in heels is always dangerous, so consider stacked platforms or stacked-high loafers. Made with cork, they are soft and springy, giving height without suffering for fashion.
While Paris saw the pastel palette of Les Paques, expect fall and winter fashion trends to embrace blacks, navies, cool gray tweeds, chocolates, camel tans and creams, especially if you are a New England or mid-Atlantic native. The styles are more mature this season ,with more class and elegance. Strong and dark, perhaps with a feminine burgundy or maroon thrown in to accentuate, fashions make a statement of power.
Cocktail dresses, typically over-adorned, are frill-free this season. There are hints of decadence that remain, though: a fur-trimmed bolero or jacket, giant jeweled buttons, ribbons, bows and lace. However, expect most of the detail in the quality of the fabric and the attention to the tailoring. The tuxedo-cut dress is also an alternative should you be on your way to a business affair.
While everyone is talking about skirts and dresses, trousers are going in two directions: either the slim-fitting narrow trouser, paired with a boxy jacket and tightly cinched belt, or the wider, swishier leg with a close-fitting top. Also expect leather culottes with wide elastic hems, or blouson leather and suede trousers. Another popular style that can only be achieved by a true Parisian, was skinny trousers under full, blossoming skirts.
Expect fashions to be more urbanized this season: cleaner lines, sharper angles, darker palettes and elegance circa 1920. Reference Gatsby, Norman Rockwell paintings and “Downton Abbey.” Women look trim and proper this coming season, but like heads of businesses rather than generations-ago secretaries. Tweeds, suedes, leathers and furs have always been traditionally fall and winter, so they come again in autumn foliage colors, sweeping off the carpeted runways onto the streets.