Spring/Summer 2019: Trend Report

As the spring/summer 2019 shows comes to a close, we took notes of the various sentiments conveyed by designers in their collections. Here are some of our most valuable takeaways from the season.

Escape, escape, escape!

The world of fashion, as we know it, is a world of escape. And the spring-summer 2019 season was exactly that, minus the hassle of organising, packing, and travelling. The love for the seaside was felt at Jacquemus, whose fantasy of the Italian Riviera featured models in clothes that were shy in material and generous with skin; miniscule bags that remind you of your miniscule responsibilities; and, bags so large, they’re all you would need for a free and easy getaway. Along your travels, you might have bumped into Molly Goddard, who took her collection on a Mediterranean vacation. The designer told Vogue that the outfits reflect “that moment when you’re ready for the party, but your mum asks you to go to the market.” On a less coastal front, 3.1 Phillip Lim’s earthy tones, Berber textiles and bucket hats paired with rubber soled sandals and space-age metallic pieces call to mind a more urban form of exploration.

Then, the escapism got other-worldly. If time travel was a possibility, the short and glistening dresses at Michael Halpern would have been perfect for a visit to the 1960’s, which is the era that inspired his collection. As for Thom Browne, the collection was a vacation destination itself, rife with symbols evocative of Cape Cod, Cote d’Azur, Rio de Janeiro and The Hamptons — all at once. We’re not quite sure where he’s taking us, but wherever it is, we’re there.

Sense and Sensibility

We’ve heard it time and time again: Fashion fades, style is eternal. Fashion’s – arguably most famous – quote implicitly asks one to reflect on the origins of our style decisions. Several collections this season have showcased this consideration through a matured design vernacular that reflects the essence of style: a quality patiently developed, perhaps through trial-and-error, and a deep understanding of one’s self — and therefore, their sartorial needs.

By the same token, designers progressively develop their aesthetic with time, experience and considered processes. Longstanding maestros such as Dries Van Noten and Haider Ackermann both presented collections that were distinctive of their style, whilst maintaining a level of freshness through new silhouettes, colours and prints. With Van Noten, the collection’s eccentric tones and textiles acknowledged a woman’s fondness for experimentation, while with Ackermann, the beauty behind the sharp tailoring and artfully undone details were accentuated by the wearer’s effortless but charged attitude.

Others have arguably come into their own sooner than usual — a feat perhaps unsurprising considering the industry’s dizzying speed — but we’re not complaining. JW Anderson, whose collection involved an assortment of motifs that traverse cultures, periods and styles, provided women who operate independently of trends with “interesting clothes that don’t verge on fashion victimhood”, as Sarah Mower described it. And despite being relatively new to the fashion week calendar, Sander Lak’s colour-filled vision for Sies Marjan travelled "deeper than the surface palette" with shades and silhouettes for all ages, genders and races.

Ultimately, our identities are hardly ever clear-cut. As circumstances change, so do our needs and our desires, and Proenza Schouler recognises that. Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez’ return to New York Fashion Week was catalysed by a sort of identity crisis the duo faced during their brief tenure in Paris. “You can take us out of New York, but you can’t take New York out of us” was the message here. Returning to America meant returning to what felt real to the label, and what could be more real and more American than denim? The collection was filled with humble materials and served as a general reminder to always keep it real with yourself.

New Dimensions

Living in a digitally dominated world has hardly eradicated the basis of fashion as a largely analog industry; the tactility of clothes and its relationship to our bodies remain unchanged. That said, the digital and the world it’s created has not only altered our minds, but impacted our views on clothes and its relevance to our post-dot-com lifestyle. The rise of e-commerce has flattened the multi-dimensionality of clothes, turning images of them into one out of the infinite jpegs occupying cyberspace. This season, few designers have worked to put the feeling back into clothes, combining vision and craft to bring us new dimensions.

For Issey Miyake, technology and corporeality have always been considered allies. The house’s design premise lies in its synthesis of traditional Japanese techniques with cutting-edge technologies to create fabrics that complement the wearer’s figure and are given new life when worn. Their latest collection, called “Traces of Hands”, introduced Dough Dough, a malleable fabric that allows the clothing and accessories to be moulded according to one’s preference. Using your hands to twist, roll, crumple and stretch the garment lends it a sculptural depth that can’t be replicated online.

At Balenciaga, a virtual tunnel designed in collaboration with the artist Jon Rafman cornered its viewers into a setting that was decidedly present, as Demna Gvasalia considered what clothing today might be and how it can rationally appeal to a new generation. The designer delved into the established vocabulary of the brand’s history, but dragged and shifted it, adding contemporary idioms to give it a “new dimension of elegance.” On a similar note, Luke and Lucie Meier’s collection re-worked the strong and minimal silhouettes characteristic of Jil Sander by incorporating a more architectural approach, further pronouncing the lines, shapes and geometry of the garments.

Skill and technique is key here, but so is passion, personality and perspective. Through a rejection of the status quo and an elegant execution, Glenn Martens is speaking on behalf of a generation who’s tired of sheepishly sustaining the beliefs of the past. In that sense, his collections for Y/Project has got us excited again: about jeans and a tank top, the colour beige, argyle, velvet and everything else that was once considered “bad taste” or banal. And as a music buff, Junya Watanabe transmits the zeal he experiences with rock music into a soul-stirring collection that combined craft with emotions. The patchworked garments re-evaluate couture processes and reflect a spur-of-the-moment creativity that is increasingly lost in today’s world.

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