My stiff wrists have loosened and my invasive dreams of models stomping down the catwalk are diminishing. That can only mean one thing: Fashion Month is over. Fall/Winter 2017 is officially on the books and across New York, London, Milan, and Paris, sweeping change was the hottest trend. Provoked by troubling political turmoil in Europe and the US, and encouraged by reactionary protests and demonstrations around the world, fashion designers put social progress front and center at dozens upon dozens of shows.
There were plus-size models sharing the runway at Michael Kors and Christian Siriano, all-ages shows at Dries Van Noten and Simone Rocha, feminist demonstrations at Missoni and Prabal Gurung, and diverse model casting at Marc Jacobs, Alberta Ferretti, and many other presentations. Oh, and for the first time ever, several brands included a hijab-clad model named Halima Aden. Amazing.
I was carefully noting every single fashion brand – not just the majors – that hosted a politically-themed show, but I lost track over the course of four weeks – there were too many to count. My fear, however, is that this inspiring theme of “wokeness” would be marked down as a trend and that the runways will return to “normal” next season. If that’s the case, it means designers used human beings to push products, and that doesn’t sit well with me. I’m optimistic that the remarkable inclusion of diverse body types, ages, and races will continue to be seen at Fashion Month from this moment forward.
As for sartorial trends, there are dozens of new ones to look for in the coming season. I noted the massive popularity of the suit across all four Fashion Weeks, as well as an obsession with velvet. Cinched-waist silhouettes were widely seen, utilizing either a knotted-front detail or a belt/corset to achieve the look. I also noticed a return to maximalism – especially in Milan – provincially belonging to Gucci, but adopted by many for fall. Additionally, denim-on-denim, super glossy leather, colorful faux fur, and patchwork/quilted looks are on the rise.
Finally, there were ten collections that really stood out to me, not only because of their craftsmanship, wonderful styling, and potent messages of inclusivity, but also for how they utilized social media and consumer engagement during Fashion Month.
Calvin Klein – New York Fashion Week
Raf Simons ushered in a new era of Calvin Klein as only he could – with an androgynous, gender-switching collection that reinterpreted Americana classics like the homemade quilt, workwear denim, and more. My favorite aspect of his debut presentation was how he used plastic overlays to tamp down feathered dresses as commentary on femininity and repression. Additionally, his use of David Bowie’s “This Is Not America” for the closing song seemed especially poignant. You can read my full review here.
Altuzarra – New York Fashion Week
As you might expect from one of New York Fashion Week’s most sought-after designers, Joseph Altuzarra was responsible for a stunning, feminine presentation for Fall/Winter 2017. While I always appreciate the loveliness of his collections, he surprised me with some genius design details this time, like the way he sculpted and buttoned his striped suits – do you know how hard it is to match the seams of curving stripes? I don’t say “genius” very often, but Altuzarra absolutely qualifies. You can read my review here.
Burberry – London Fashion Week
Burberry = trench coat, at least to my mind and nearly everyone else’s. However, Christopher Bailey decided to get super experimental for the Burberry February 2017 presentation at London Fashion Week, and the risk paid off handsomely. This is, by far, Burberry’s most fashion-forward presentation, with amazingly crafted capes, deconstructed trenches, and maximal Shakespearean blouses. You can read my full review here.
Christopher Kane – London Fashion Week
While most of the fashion industry is satisfied with upcycling trends, Christopher Kane is obsessed with real innovation. That’s why his collections, while eccentric, are also thrilling. You’re guaranteed to see something that you’ve never seen before. I might not forgive him for that collaboration with Crocs, but I loved the inventive, future-oriented details of his Fall/Winter 2017 show. You can read my full review here.
Bottega Veneta – Milan Fashion Week
Fashion does not get any classier or more regal than the Bottega Veneta Fall/Winter 2017 presentation. Inspired by the silver-screen sirens of Hollywood’s Golden Era, designer Tomas Maier improved ladylike dressing for the modern day, which means elbow-length gloves, handsome separates, and liquid-gold gowns. The collection was extraordinarily elegant and made me want to pull out a Katharine Hepburn film and daydream about Cary Grant. You can read my full review here.
Fendi – Milan Fashion Week
Like Bottega Veneta, Fendi decided that ladylike was the way to go for Fall/Winter 2017. However, Fendi’s version was more youthful and flirtatious, fluctuating between chic classics and surprising sheer dresses. The brand also scaled way back on its full-fur offerings, trading them for wool coats with fur trims instead. Silvia Fendi also disclosed that the brand’s double-F logo now stands for “Feminine Fendi” (it used to stand for “Fun Fur”), which I can definitely get behind. You can read my full review here.
Versace – Milan Fashion Week
In what is likely Donatella Versace’s last collection for Versace, the legendary designer showed little Donatella clones on the runway, but the diversity of her output was what really caught my eye. Versace has had a singular, super sexy aesthetic for so long, but I greatly appreciate how much effort Donatella has put into diversifying her lineup. Sporty clothes, powersuits, and empowering messaging were great complements to those slinky, sequined frocks. You can read my full review here.
Dries Van Noten – Paris Fashion Week
Dries Van Noten swore he wasn’t being nostalgic with his 100th collection, but the fact that he cast models that he has befriended over the past 20 years tells me otherwise. Sure, it wasn’t sentimental, but nostalgia was evident by the collection’s vivid reprisal of archival prints. No one does prints like Dries, and this presentation boasted a rainbow array of his best and brightest, happily worn by models of all ages. You can read my review here.
Alexander McQueen – Paris Fashion Week
Have I ever not loved an Alexander McQueen collection? No. Fall/Winter 2017 showed Sarah Burton at her best, sartorially revisiting childhood memories spent in Cornwall, but reinforcing her nostalgia with a healthy dose of Celtic mysticism. Her resplendent collection included some of Fashion Month’s most impressive craftsmanship and a series of achingly beautiful gowns that I went back and looked at about 45 times. You can read my full review here.
Miu Miu – Paris Fashion Week
I have to commend Miu Miu for having one of the most delightful collections at all of Fashion Month, made possible by dozens of candy-colored, faux-fur coats, mittens, boots, and hats. While many designers have continued to use fur, claiming faux versions aren’t as easy to work with, Miu Miu so thoroughly proved them wrong that it made anyone showing real fur look completely passé. You can read my full review here.