Fashion Gets Real?
For years our wardrobes have been filled with clothes, but fashion likes to think of them as anything but. “Must have”, “seasonal buy”, the “hot item”, “wardrobe essentials”, “trends”, and a million other terms bring an importance to each and every piece to try to persuade us that they are new and must be purchased.
I remind you about the micro short, crop tops, and hip hugging jeans - who really looked amazing in these and a lot of the other short-lived trends? The implication from the fashion world is that, if we are to remain in the swing, we must buy them, or risk being “out of fashion”. The retail industry is struggling, brands are asking questions regarding the way forward and consumers are so bombarded with information, updates, and trends that they have become meaningless. Is there a solution? Well, when times are hard and the global situation is of some concern, suddenly clothes seem more important than fashion.
But it’s not that simple, the world of fashion now needs to brand and label this new and innovative concept of clothes and sell it to us. The return of tailoring, the return of elegance, new elegance, and bourgeoise; are just some of the new titles, trends or headlines we are seeing as favoured tags for this shift in fashion. The realisation that in troubled times classic fashion and quality is better than disposable cheap pieces, that also have a detrimental effect on the planet. There is also the fact that in the era and generation of #metoo, the clothes that women buy, and wear can send out a clear, confident statement of intent. There is also a subtle touch of androgyny in the classic women’s wardrobe which is not out of place in a time of gender discussions.
The newest fashion story is about reality and classic and a return to a proper wardrobe of pieces that function in real life and the world surrounding that life. The collection Hedi Slimane sent out for Celine, the Burberry city looks of Ricardo Tisci, the success of Max Mara, and many other catwalk collections point us in the direction of real clothes as a winning formulation right now. Koche only showed great pieces and used an amazing casting to wear them, an essential component in today’s world for a successful and relevant catwalk show. Designs by Maria Grazia Chiuri at Christian Dior are selling like hot cakes and the collection is all based around real clothes - admittedly not at real prices, but you get the idea. Jacquemus, one of the hottest designers in the world right now, presented beautiful clothes in beautiful colours and great fabrics, in top quality finishes. In Paris I watched collection after collection, often away from the huge names; some new, some established, focusing only on great clothes to buy; Gauchere, Akris, Auralee, Agnes B, Lutz Huelle, Rochas, Uma Wang, Nehera, ROKH, and many more.
Coats returning to their purpose are long and warm and made to go over other clothes, in fact functional is a departure for fashion. A huge range of pleated skirts which come in versions that are made to flatter and work for a wide range of ages, sizes and lifestyles; simple dresses - following after the rise of modest dress, the realisation has dawned that the dress is a one-piece garment designed for a busy life to make things simpler. Blouses, shirts and above all the return of tailoring, the new suit adding a slight formality to fashions pieces, feels new and innovative, especially since we haven’t seen it for some time. It’s not the 80’s nostalgia or the power suit, it’s for a generation born after 1985 who are now heading towards their forties, not nostalgia for a decade they missed. Tailoring and a new relaxed elegance is still also capable of including dress down, street or athleisure; a track pant, a hood, a skinny polo neck, a parka, etc. The new story includes nothing that will not work and function; but in styling terms, moves to a more urban, less obvious and more confident feeling and mood.
The new fashion mood is cleaner, more grown up for the very young, and a huge relief for many of the grown-up age group. It’s clothing that reassures, and brings confidence to the wearer, it’s flattering to those who are fit, and kind to those who aren’t. The oddest thing is it’s not strictly retro but can be because it’s based around timeless pieces. The trench can be 1940’s, 1970’s or really any decade you fancy, likewise pleated skirts and shirts span many eras of style from Filme Noire to Dynasty.
So, what is the conclusion? Forget labels, trends and must have looks, it’s time to focus on the good, the proven classic, and the things no wardrobe should ever have to do without. I give you in my defence- knitwear. This season there were so many great knit pieces around from sweaters to dresses. It’s part of the wardrobe which really functions, has a huge pedigree in craft and heritage, offers everything from a classic black Grace Kelly twinset to a huge hand knit abstract tunic and is now firmly back where it belongs; an essential part of the wardrobe.
What I want to say, (but it’s not my expertise) is I do feel investment in classic fragrances will match this fashion trend.
Je Reviens, L’Air du Temps, Jicky , etc, will all mirror the return of real clothes in the rediscovery of classics.
Fragrances which have continued to be made but haven’t been updated or re-launched suddenly found to be wonderful.
All images by Tony Glenville