So the AW17 shows are over. And the verdict? Hmmm. OK, I suppose, but not exactly a vintage season.
Maybe designers were too busy protesting about Brexit/Trump/racism/sexism (all worthy causes). Or maybe they were too busy trying to out-Demna Demna Gvasalia with painfully unwearable shoulders and try-finding-a-coat-that’ll-go-with-that asymmetry.
But there were some good collections full of commercial ideas that also moved fashion forward. And without wanting to be sexist, just as a lot of the more ridiculous ideas came from male-helmed labels this time, a lot of the better ones were pure girl power.
Take a trio of female-directed labels showing in Paris in recent days. Chloé, Isabel Marant and Stella McCartney. None of them exactly ripped up the rule book, but they did make clothes women will want to wear (and isn’t that what fashion is all about really?)
Isabel Marant gave us some great crystal-embellished denim jackets and jeans that should help the high street move its fashion denim offer forward, and also managed to interpret the current frill and one-shoulder obsession in a way that was more wearable than most.
She backed the big boot statements (over knee and a bit 90s with skinny pants tucked-in or slouchy enough to look a bit late 70s with a dress).
And the season’s wide-slouchy tailoring was kept under control with cinched waists. What also was there to look out for in-store come late summer? Cigar-shaped pants, floral dresses with leather bodice detail, wool pea coats lined in shaggy lamb’s fur and squared-off shoulders that were among the more wearable shoulder statements to have been seen this fashion month.
Over at Chloé, Clare Waight Keller bowed out of the label she has made her own with a less boho version of her signature look. The shell suits may have been a bit hard to take but the floral mini dresses and blouses looked like commercial winners for shoppers young and… well, not old maybe, but at least not-so-young.
Combined with a leather mini overdress or khaki wool coat (looking more like an oversized shirt that a true coat), they had a less girly edge that should appeal to those of us who just don’t do pretty-pretty.
Outerwear was a key feature and the focus was on mini length, whether leather or wool coats, lamb’s fur or capes. Again, the shoulder line was squared off and sharp, but not enough to invite the kind of ridicule some of the season’s other runway options will get. And there was one totally covetable knit – loose and tunic dress length in soft stripes, it’s a wishlist piece if ever I saw one.
Finally Stella McCartney sent out the least girly of this girl power trio. It was more an update of her signature looks than a radical new direction. Her focus was tailoring, but with feminine curves, while also nodding to the wider silhouette that’s been heavily pushed in the past few weeks.
We also got a softer edge with embroidered tulle that sat atop knits or tailored pants. That hard/soft contrast has been visited by a number of labels for this season but felt more relaxed at McCartney.
And she gave us a series of figure-defining mini dresses that showed women don’t have to channel hooker chic to make an impact (are you listening Mr Vaccarello?) Her palette of navy, grey, burgundy, apricot and sage also underlined her subtle approach.
Not that her big print story was subtle. The horses she previously visited while at Chloé got a look-in. Expect to see them in a high street store near you some time soon.