Womenswear: runway trends from the Fall/Winter 2019-20 shows
For Fall/Winter 2019-20, fashion designers have imagined women caught between shadow and light, as shown by the 10 main trends emerging from the collections introduced on the New York, London, Milan and Paris catwalks.
Streetwear and sportswear are out, and women will once again be making room in their wardrobes for a revamped retro style, with bourgeois lady the predominant look. Without needing to jettison comfort though, thanks to long, flowing dresses and tunics, generously cut, extra-long trousers, enveloping overcoats, capes and an array of cosy materials, eco-fur and fluffy wool above all. This ultra-feminine mood, expressed also in sundry boudoir looks, contrasted with a more aggressive streak, as women feel the need to affirm their power, or simply to protect themselves.
At its heart, this trend hovered between delicate, extremely feminine outfits and materials, and a hardcore attitude. Within the same collection, sometimes even within the same look, next winter’s womenswear reveals its ambivalence with a style veering from one extreme to the other, as for example at Prada, Ann Demeulemeester, Alexander McQueen, Marni, Bottega Veneta, Altuzarra, Ermanno Scervino, Giambattista Valli and others.
This trend translated into ubiquitous menswear codes (fabrics, jackets) and military references (khaki, new camo patterns, ammo belts) blending with sexy details like black lace, sheer effects, silk and satin, as well as into a punchier biker/punk/rocker/goth mood, big on leather, vinyl, studs, masks and assorted chains. Sometimes, the mood was expressed merely by an accessory, whether a choker necklace, or a pair of ranger or cowboys boots worn with a chiffon or floral dress.
2) Leather coats
Following this rather hardcore, dominatrix direction, leather clothes will be carving out quite some space in women's wardrobes. In many cases, with all-leather looks whose signature item remains the black leather coat, which was omnipresent on the catwalks, in python skin, faux and patent leather or vinyl, quilted or embossed (Tod’s, Hermès, Annakiki, Alexander Wang, Alberta Ferretti, Balenciaga, Balmain, Ricostru, etc.). Leather coats featured in unexpected colours too, for example in shades of blue at Cédric Charlier, light green at Off/White or spruce green at Lacoste.
Given this ambivalence between a warrior attitude and the need for self-protection, masks have become the signature emblem of a transition period in which economic crises and worries about an uncertain future loom large. Will Marine Serre’s tartan gas mask protect us from environmental pollution? Gucci instead went from Anonymous hacker masks to metal-spiked Venetian carnival masks, Manish Arora’s masks were inspired by deities, and Anton Belinskiy slipped back into childhood with masks in naive animal shapes. Other designers concealed the face with balaclavas, hats and hoods/caps, and of course with headscarves, a not-so-veiled reference to hijabs.
4) Thigh-high boots galore
Boots were ubiquitous, more voluminous than ever and worn increasingly higher. The new collections overflowed with thigh-high boots, in leather, suede, latex and fabric, and even wader-style rubber boots, as at Jacquemus. They were mostly black, but often popped up in all sorts of colours and shapes: leg-hugging, in a looser accordion style, or even oversized, like fairy-tale boots. Whether thigh-high or lower, boots are another of the must-have accessories for next winter’s wardrobe. Preferably with stiletto heels and in a striking colour, matched with glam evening gloves.
Women will be rummaging among their grandmothers’ clothes to pick their outfits for next winter, coming up with midi skirts, old-fashioned suits, twin sets, cardigans and classic overcoats. Many outfits have something of an old-style bourgeois feel, though they still look great of course, having all been revamped and refreshed with a strong dose of designer cool and that oh-so-chic vintage touch. And they are glamorized with gloves, preferably leather ones, a headscarf or one of those retro hats, like the brimmed cloche seen at Nina Ricci and Christian Dior, among others.
6) Morning coats and tails
Riding the retro wave, some designers amused themselves by travelling back in time, coming up with outfits which have all but disappeared, like morning coats and tailcoats. Dolce & Gabbana featured several versions, in a new take on traditional men’s suits. Haider Ackermann presented a black ceremonial tailcoat decorated with a golden garland. Other collections showcased morning coats with rounded profiles, as did Cédric Charlier, smoothing the angles of a classic jacket, or Chloé, introducing an overcoat with a tight, undulating profile, or a double-breasted coat/jacket whose tails floated freely down the sides.
From Little Red Riding Hood's short cape to a long, black witch’s cape, this item, which popped up occasionally in women's wardrobes in the last few seasons, is now a firm favourite with its strong retro feel. It was featured in all lengths, in all sorts of materials, for day and evening wear, buttoned up or open at the front. Other variations on the cloak theme included the pelerine, the shrug, the poncho and more.
8) Lozenge and checker-board patterns
Next winter’s collections are still bursting with check and tartan fabrics, though many designers tried to stand out by varying the patterns. The idea is to feature this kind of geometric design in other versions, such as lozenges, sometimes with a Harlequin look, or small checker-board-style squares in contrasting colours. Both variants cropped up in many collections.
Next winter, women will brook no compromises, as evidenced by the plethora of monochrome looks on the catwalks. Countless outfits featured tone-on-tone clothes in classic, neutral colours (white, beige and black), as well as bright, vibrant hues (Max Mara, Aalto, Akris, Balenciaga, Christian Wijnants and others). Fluorescent colours were in evidence within this joyful, energetic palette, especially when they glowed in the dark as at Marios, Saint Laurent and Marine Serre. Yellow and lime green in particular will add vitality to next winter’s looks.
10) Winter sports
Next winter's womenswear collections, like the men’s in January, were steeped in Alpine chic. Chanel made winter sports its central theme, with a ski resort ambience and models wrapped up warm in knitted jacquard dresses, their ankles and shoes cocooned in plush furry gaiters. The whole panoply of winter gear was on show, from après-ski boots in nylon (Benetton) or fur (Angel Chen, Byblos) to fur-lined anoraks and hoodies (Courrèges), and even thick-soled, lace-up mountaineer boots. Some designers even went as far as having their models tread the catwalk in ski boots, like Chinese stylist Jarel Zhang. Down jackets were ubiquitous, whether monochrome, floral-patterned (at Dries Van Noten) or with a metallic finish, featured also in overcoat, gilet, dress and scarf versions.
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