Fashion month is over and autumn is officially here. With box set binges and party season planning comes a wardrobe refresh, courtesy of AW18's catwalk collections. What's exciting us the most? Well, no matter your personal style, there's something for everyone.
The Matrix got grown up, with Marni and Rains providing high-shine jackets that will keep us cool in the office and protected from the elements, while '80s decadence is having an all-out glam revival thanks to sequin-loving designers Ashish and Halpern. Going back further, the '70s gets a 2018 update with sophisticated neutrals and luscious textures at Chloé and Sies Marjan, and over at Rejina Pyo and Victoria Beckham, a new kind of everyday dressing emerged – one that we actually want to wear. Gucci and Richard Quinn encouraged us to raid our grandma's attic and find clashing, maximalist prints – not one for the shy and retiring wallflower – and autumn's brisk walks are covered in the form of Loewe and Alexander McQueen's made-for-the-countryside heritage checks and comfy puffers.
Welcome to AW18's trend guide. Short days and dark nights aren't so scary, after all.
Perhaps the lack of sex in AW18's shows (with the exception of Christopher Kane's The Joy of Sex collection) was a reflection of the climate post #MeToo, or maybe it was the industry collectively mourning the news that Phoebe Philo would be leaving Celine after a decade at the helm, but either way, womenswear was more practical, reality-driven and sensible than ever. That's not to say it was boring, staid or austere; there's a thrill in finding pieces you actually want to – and could – wear.
From Victoria Beckham to Tibi via Rejina Pyo and Loewe, trousers were loose-fitting and paired with mules or trainers, trench coats battled it out with suits for the nine-to-five top spot, and soft-focus colours like bubblegum pink, slate grey and camel created an ultra wearable palette. "Within this trend, we saw very intentional styling, whether it was an element of deconstruction or colour coordination," Lisa Aiken, fashion director of Net-A-Porter explains. "Interestingly, we saw pops of colour and varying shades of neutrals, which is key for our minimal woman who doesn't always want to wear black and white."
That '70s Show
Led by Natacha Ramsay-Levi’s new Chloé girl, the '70s hit AW18’s catwalks with full force. Think less bohemian florals and more the kind of slick suiting, neutral colour palette and textured fabrics that dominated the decade. Designers opted for subtle nods to the decade rather than head-to-toe looks, which often veer into fancy dress territory; think a corduroy blazer in reference to The Graduate, or a silk scarf tied around the neck à la Anita Pallenberg.
To nail the trend, look to Chloé, where Ramsay-Levi combined sumptuous velvet jackets with printed silk shirts, and deep-V blouses with chunky gold jewellery. Elsewhere, Acne Studios kept the oversized wired optical fresh, and Sies Marjan played with distinctly '70s hues, pairing shaggy coats in burnt orange with flowing trousers in chocolate brown. "This is the '70s for your minimal girl," Aiken says. "We’re seeing the trend from brands you wouldn’t expect, like Joseph, and a lot of it comes down to colour palette: camels, taupes and rusts."
Minimal and normcore dressing have dominated for so long that an all-out glam revival was sure to take place eventually. Enter '80s indulgence, whereby sparkling sequins, larger-than-life sleeves and puffball skirts flooded the AW18 catwalks alongside fabric finishes and prints that hark back to the decadent decade. This party season, it's go big or go home.
While easy-to-add details come from brands like Alessandra Rich, Attico and Magda Butrym – think detachable bows and Princess Di polka dots – razzle-dazzle was in full force at both Ashish and Halpern. Ashish is defined by his sequin work, but our favourite look from his AW18 show was a blue, green and black tinsel mini-dress, complete with funnel neck and thigh-skimming hem. Over at Halpern, who has also made a name for himself as a master of sparkle, we saw puff-sleeved metallics, sequinned animal prints, and jumpsuits made for the dance floor.
We may be familiar with the '90s-inspired Matrix trend from the past few seasons – micro shades and high-shine patent boots reigned supreme in early 2018 – but this season’s take feels more refined, grown-up and, most importantly, wearable, than its previous Insta-friendly iteration. "This trend is all about gloss, leather and printed skins," Aiken says. "Forget the connotations leather used to have – this is office-wearable and statement-making."
Jonathan Anderson used leather extensively at Loewe in jumpsuits and pockets, while Victoria Beckham gave us olive-hued two-pieces and smart belted dresses. Nanushka offered vegan leather (which can be machine washed at 30 degrees!), while Marni's animal skins ruled, with a green python coat resulting in a plethora of high street imitations. There’s also a practicality to this trend, Aiken says. "One of the most practical pieces – the raincoat – has had a fashion makeover; we’re stocking the high-shine and glossy offering from Rains."
There are no rules when it comes to raiding granny’s attic, AW18’s most maximalist trend. While Gucci changed the narrative as soon as the eccentric Alessandro Michele took the helm, we’re now seeing bolder prints, clashing textures and more-is-more accessorising across the whole of fashion month. "There were a mashup of references within this trend," Aiken explains. "From vintage scarf prints to '80s proportions via wallpaper florals and Chanel tweeds, designers have taken the idea of vintage and made it their own."
Look to Gucci’s treasure trove of vintage-inspired pieces, from crochet capes and OTT costume jewellery to silk scarves and floral dresses. Richard Quinn became a real contender at AW18, too – and not just for his guests of honour, the Queen and Anna Wintour. While his floral face coverings and larger-than-life dresses made an impact, the real hit were his sweet-wrapper metallic florals, complete with extra large pussy bow. Pick and choose your favourite elements, from snake-effect leather to kitsch cardigans, and wear them all at once.
Heritage checks and cosy sweaters have long been a staple of London Fashion Week, but it wasn’t just British designers drawing inspiration for their AW18 collections from countryside pursuits. Sure, Alexander McQueen treated show-goers to a knitted aran jumper (with their name embroidered on the label), but everyone from Jonathan Anderson at Loewe to Gabriela Hearst was looking to brisk walks and fireside tipples this season.
"As well as technical fabrics for protection against the elements, which ties into the more literal interpretation of the trend, there were heritage checks and 'homey' textures, from shearling to Fair Isle knits," Aiken says. Our top pieces? Herringbone jackets with leather details, as seen at Loewe, deconstructed puffers, as offered by Alexander McQueen, and Ganni’s hiking boots – the season’s most practical footwear.