Fall 2021-22 womenswear shows herald the end of Covid
The Covid-19 pandemic is still rampant in a number of countries, but fashion designers are patently pinning their hopes on a rosier future. Cosy, comfortable clothes still constitute the core of the collections for the Fall/Winter 2021-22 season, featuring plenty of lockdown-friendly knitwear, cocooning coats and ample monochrome suits, with a focus on utilitarian wardrobe essentials. At the same time, the women’s ready-to-wear collections presented virtually in New York, London, Milan and Paris, from February 14 to March 10 2021, clearly gambled on a return to normality, and were infused with an irrepressible yearning for parties and glamour, spawning sparkling, lavish looks.
This essentially utilitarian garment, which has cropped up frequently in recent seasons, especially in men’s collections, has now become a women’s wardrobe staple, presented in a plethora of styles and materials. Styled like a trench coat by Issey Miyake, as a suit by Sportmax and Salvatore Ferragamo, with geometric patterns at Courrèges, zipped at Rick Owens, in suede at Alberta Ferretti.
At Prada, jumpsuits come with a nod to a granddad’s woollen underwear, while Balmain’s interpretation gives it an astronaut/fighter pilot twist. Also featured were skiing jumpsuits (at Chanel, Thom Browne and Emilio Pucci) and an evening version in black lace by Elie Saab.
Quilted overcoats and jackets, preferably with voluminous proportions, have earned themselves a permanent slot in women’s wardrobes with their protective, comforting feel. Down jackets were all the rage, both in Alpine versions, with matching anoraks and padded boots, and in the guise of urban overcoats, capes, blankets, sport jackets and gilets.
They are even featured as dresses at Loewe, Marni and Cecilie Bahnsen. Beautiful People transformed a maxi down jacket in a gala garment, Ottolinger in a sculptured overcoat. Jarel Zhang’s quilted jackets can be disassembled, at Rick Owens they are futuristic. Dolce & Gabbana’s oversize down jackets come in glittering leopard print and silver, while they veer towards extra-large sportswear volumes at Givenchy.
Lighter and softer than a jacket, warmer than a traditional shirt, the overshirt is one of the many practical essentials that have gained prominence during lockdown. Overshirts featured discreetly in several collections, from Fendi, in sturdy bouclé wool, to Edward Crutchley’s sophisticated military version. They also featured in leather, wool and cotton, in pastel hues or in the classic check pattern presented by Dsquared2.
A black dress with prim white Claudine collar, the typical French schoolgirl look, is something quite reassuring in these uncertain times. It is a look that has greatly inspired designers, blending as it does a kind of classic, slightly bourgeois understatement with echoes of innocence and childhood memories. Christian Dior, Simone Rocha and Bmuet(te) featured black apron dresses worn over white shirts, while the look incorporated a white plastron at N°21 and Giambattista Valli.
Oversize collars with long tips, ruffled collars that extend upwards and frilled collars are a distinctive presence in next winter’s looks. A huge lace collar nearly covers the shoulders in Masha Ma’s black leather mini dress, while a collar embroidered with small black motifs is set over a black polka dot dress at Paco Rabanne.
Traditional black and white houndstooth patterns with their classic, conservative feel are back centre-stage, often in imaginatively iconoclastic reinterpretations. Dolce & Gabbana featured the pattern in the pockets of a Teddy Boy jacket or in an oversize goose-foot print. Nina Ricci adopted it in green. At Anrealage, the pattern explodes in a thousand fragments on an overcoat, while Rokh gives it an almost metallic shine.
Long glamorous gloves in endless variants will be next winter’s must-have accessory. Transformed into half-sleeves or into sleeves tout court, to be detached or attached at will, they are the ideal complement of the post-2020 wardrobe, at a time when people have learned to consume less but better.
Detachable woollen sleeves can be chic (as at Paco Rabanne and Giambattista Valli) or practical (at Rick Owens), worn as part of a cute knitted shrug at Dawei, or combined with a sexy tone-on-tone knitted strap dress at Blumarine. Ann Demeulemeester presented them in white poplin to match a shirt and accent the silhouette.
Elsewhere, detachable sleeves serve to add volume to the arms. And in general, sleeves are increasingly voluminous, they burgeon and balloon, adorned with frills and ruches.
Pretty A-line dresses, reminiscent of the carefree, frivolous 1960s, are making a come-back in fashion collections, together with trapeze-shaped skirts and overcoats. With their simple, practical geometric shape they evoke both a little-girl look and the Swinging 60s, infusing energy and humour into next winter’s wardrobe.
Jewellery will play a starring role in the Fall/Winter 2021-22. It is the perfect way to accent understated, minimalist looks, to add a twist of character to an outfit, and to make it sparkle even through a single detail, like the crystal garter belt glimpsed at Chanel. Jewellery is synonymous with the widespread desire to shine again.
Jewels featured in the collections not simply as impressive statement pieces, as Schiaparelli did so cleverly, they also took over entire garments. A cascade of pearls turns into a plastron at Jil Sander, gemstone sets morph into a top at Paco Rabanne, a pearl-encrusted dress is worn over a bodice at Dolce & Gabbana. And chunky metal chains pop up everywhere, draped around the neck or the body.
Sequins, rhinestones, pearls, feathers, lamé fabrics and wire mesh: a festive spirit glittered in a number of collections. Many of them featured scores of shimmering silver items, lending the clothes a futuristic sci-fi look, but it is gold that most clearly symbolised the return to luminous looks.
Even the more sombre collections, like those by Calcaterra and Valentino, included at least one or two looks in gold. Sometime it is just a single item, like Chanel’s golden raincoat, Versace’s lamé dress, Alberta Ferretti’s tasselled trousers, Moschino’s snakeskin suit, or the glittering boots by Andrew GN.
There is a craving for parties and sumptuous dresses, and trains have made a grand return in many collections, trailing behind majestic coats, theatre gowns, cocktail frocks and princess dresses, in silk, chiffon and satin, ideally dotted with gems and crystals.
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