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The buyers' view: autumn 18 catwalk round-up

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As the autumn 18 season of womenswear catwalks draw to a close this month, Drapers asks top buyers to reveal their standout collections and industry insight of the key directions to know.

Cocochan stylebop[1]

Coco Chan, head of womenswear, Stylebop

How would you sum up the season?

Thoughtful is the word I would use. Designers seemed preoccupied with nuancing and perfecting signatures and core pieces, adding fresh twists and details best appreciated up close. It feels almost like the beginning of slow fashion: well-made beautiful things one appreciates over time. The strongest shows translated this ethos.

What stood out?

The 1980s are definitely on everyone’s mind. This was a strong undercurrent that ran through every city, from Marc Jacobs’ euphoric celebration of volume and colour to more subtle nods to the decade’s power suiting at Max Mara and no-holds-barred glamour at Balmain, Givenchy and Saint Laurent.

The art of recycling was another strong trend – there were beautiful takes on patchwork, crochet, quilting and other humble crafts. Loewe was the highlight here, as well as the pieced-together doily dresses at Stella McCartney and knitwear at Y Project. Maison Margiela put a futurist spin on the trend with parkas that were as showstopping as the vinyl coats at Marni with exposed seams.

Finally, volume was a key message, and the big coat took centre stage as the investment of the season. There were so many great iterations it’s impossible to name all of them, but among the most wanted were The Row’s louche robes in cashmere, Simone Rocha’s frilly opera coats, Stella McCartney’s checked maxis and Givenchy’s fabulously fake furs.

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Balenciaga

Which were your favourite collections?

Balenciaga for using the humble art of layering to conjure couture-like proportions while emphasizing the season’s message of recycling. Jil Sander for managing to surprise and delight with a soft architecture that was innovative and approachable. Christopher Kane for embracing the power of romance and sensuality, a message that’s quite resonant in this politically fraught moment; and The Row for an understated yet breathtaking collection of wardrobe trophies that will step in to fill the gap left by a Phoebe Philo-less Céline.

 

Candice fragis, buying and merchandising director at farfetch (2)

Candice Fragis, buying and merchandising director, Farfetch

How would you sum up the season?

Creative and inspiring.

What stood out?

There were a lot of mixed fabrics. I particularly loved the mix of brocade and PVC, which was a recurring motif. 

What were your favourite collections?

Etro and Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini are my top ready-to-wear picks this season. For accessories I really liked the Casadei presentation and I’m obsessed with the boots Fendi showed. Versace was great again - I loved the mix of colour and fabrics and the overt 1980s silhouettes. I also really liked the glam of Moschino’s sequinned dresses.

In London, Matty Bovan started the season with such a high and Richard Quinn ended it perfectly – it was an absolute highlight to see such an exciting talent be recognised in such an iconic way [with the presentation of the Queen Elizabeth Award for Design by the Queen]. Roksanda was beautiful and I continue to love the disco glam that Halpern is owning.

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Roksanda

Marine Serre is the newcomer to the Paris schedule and the most exciting one at that. Chloé was beautiful and Haider Ackermann is always one of my highlights – his tailoring is always beautiful and the bright colours this season were a real standout.

 

Hazel Catterall, head of womenswear buying, Harvey Nichols

Hazel catterall head of womenswear harvey nics

How would you sum up the season?

The season felt safe, as though there were no huge risk-takers. For autumn 18 the trends were more of an evolution of previous season’s, rather than any real new departures. Shows were busy but no more than usual and the only one I would describe as hectic was Off-White.

What stood out?

Fake fur was a huge trend seen throughout all cities. Gucci followed through on its declaration that it is fake fur-only now and Givenchy delivered some of the best super-luxe fake furs too. Overall there were so many great fakes, they all had us guessing if they were real or not – they’re that good now.

Colour has been a big player this season, yet highly diverse in its use. Blocks of colour have been used to great effect at Valentino and Balenciaga, for example. There were also really strong colour flashes in many collections, most memorably at Alexander McQueen and Haider Ackermann. The primary colours stood out the most. Additionally, naturals and browns used in a leafy autumnal way have been strong – a classic Chloé palette that was used so well this season.

With the use of plastics and foils in many collections, there was a feeling of protection coming through. Raf Simons used foil blankets, fireman’s jackets and balaclavas to protect and survive at Calvin Klein. Balmain, Maison Margiela and Sies Marjan all used iridescent plastics in unique ways.

The Western influence introduced by Calvin Klein a couple of seasons ago has filtered through to many collections – my favourite was Isabel Marant, who delivered her own take on feminine cowboys.

Finally, we saw a real heritage tailoring influence in most collections – from checks to herringbones, often embellished, sometimes using lining as a feature.

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Calvin Klein

What were your favourite collections?

From New York, the standout show was Calvin Klein. The week had felt a little quiet up to that point. Sies Marjan also stood out for its signature use of colour – a collection that was impactful yet highly wearable.

In London, the standout show for me was Rejina Pyo – the block colour dresses and shirts were stunning, and the outerwear in soft shades are absolute must-haves for the season. I also loved Erdem, where the signature romanticism was softened into gorgeous prints in flattering and feminine pieces.

In Paris, my favourite collections were Loewe and Chloé. It was really exciting to see what both designers were bringing to these two historic houses.

 

Ida Peteon, womenswear buying director, Browns

Ida peteon womenswear buying director

How would you sum up the season?

This season has been extremely exciting – lots of newness and continuous creativity. I am mostly excited about the volume of new talent that we’ve seen making a mark for themselves throughout the different cities. Shows were buzzy in a nice, fun way.

What stood out?

Genderlessness as a general theme stood out. There are so many menswear brands that are now looking to engage in womenswear.

Checks and plaids where everywhere, from Gucci to Versace, across both clothing and accessories.

Romantic long dresses were styled with menswear pieces, as seen at Calvin Klein and Off-White.

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Off-White

The move into fake fur from the super-brands is a great direction.

Football scarves were also seen, maybe because of the World Cup a few months away. They were everywhere from street style to the catwalk – there was no missing them.

There is still a strong focus on sneakers in the footwear world, and both Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen delivered new versions of the ‘ugly sneaker’ trend.

Mini-bags are still going strong and totes and clutches are making a comeback.

What were your favourite collections?

Calvin Klein in New York, where Raf Simons is going from strength to strength – I absolutely loved the contrast of romantic dresses with the oversized workman coats. At Sies Marjan, Sander [Lak] delivered his strongest collection to date – I’m just obsessed with the iridescent metallic trench coat.

I thought Christopher Bailey’s final collection at Burberry was a great celebration of his tenure and I couldn’t help but obsess over the checks, while Michael Halpern is the king of eveningwear – his show in London was insane.

The Prada collection in Milan was fantastic. The return of the flame sandal in neon, the iridescent materials, the outerwear – I had to keep pinching myself as the models walked by. Checks have been everywhere but I think the Versace collection showcased one of the stronger iterations of the trend.

In Paris, I loved the sharp tailoring combined with the neon prints at Balenciaga, and Marine Serrea was simply stunning. Haider Ackermann was also a highlight – very few people can nail tailoring like Haider can.

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Burberry

 

Lydia King, buying director, Selfridges

Lydia king selfridges director of womenswear copy

How would you sum up the season?

This season has been really eclectic, but it felt very trend lead. You could really easily pick out the top 10 trends that everyone was going for. London felt particularly strong for autumn 18, and Christopher Bailey’s final Burberry show was a very clear highlight. We were also really excited at the Paris shows – Comme des Garçons Noir, Balmain, Undercover and Sacai were clear favourites.

What stood out?

Plaid, leather in all colours, shearling and feathers for texture. Tailoring is still prominent, along with oversized or deconstructed outerwear, reflective fabrics, and a western influence.

What were your favourite collections?

JW Anderson was one of the team’s highlights for London. We all left really excited about the new take on his ring-fastening bag, and the bag fever continued at Anderson’s Loewe show. Matty Bovan was also a highlight in London. It’s so important that young creative London has a place on the schedule every season, and Matty flew the flag beautifully.

In Milan we were all excited by the Prada show – it was such a pleasure to see Miuccia Prada reference so many iconic Prada moments in one show.

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JW Anderson

Laura Larbalestier, buying director, Boutique 1

Laura boutique 1

How would you sum up the season?

The autumn 18 season was very inspiring. Fashion feels fun again. Lots of bright colours and a mix of safe bets and boundary-pushing shapes created a great balance.

What stood out?

In terms of trends, there were lots of rainbow colours, polka-dots and suits. Lots of shine and sequins – plenty of new looks to party in.

The cowboy boots, animal prints and checks also stood out.

Bags are becoming the new way to finish your look, from the mini bags at Jacquemus to the belt bags from Okhtein and Wandler.

What were your favourite collections?

The Row and Calvin Klein in New York, Missoni in Milan, Molly Goddard in London and Isabel Marant in Paris.

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Isabel Marant

Adam Kelly, buying and merchandising director, Fenwick of Bond Street

Adam kelly fenwick

How would you sum up the season?

This season was a real mix of internal retrospectives and Instagram-friendly imagery. We will wrap up our buying trends by filtering these moods into commercially inspired ranges.

What stood out?

Holographic finishes to fabrics are going to be key in ready-to-wear and accessories for autumn 18, and the use of vinyl treatments was everywhere. It will be fun to see how we can weave this into our anchor brand collections.

What were your favourite collections?

Milan had a real sense of bravado, and Etro, Pucci and Missoni all delivered great collections that are going from strength to strength in store right now. All the buying team loved the techno florals at Preen by Thornton Bregazzi and MSGM.

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Pucci

 

Sashasarokin

Sashasarokin

Sasha Sarokin

Sasha Sarokin, fashion and buying director, The Modist

How would you sum up the season?

The season was a return to positivity, colour, bright feminine shapes and wild prints. It was a pleasure to see designers return to femininity, but a bold and strong feminine that really champions our celebration of women enjoying fashion and being strong in their choices and identity. Fashion weeks are always full of energy and autumn 18 was no exception. We were inspired by not just the energy of the designers, but the energy of the cities themselves.

What trends stood out?

It’s really all about the 1980s, and with the 1980s come bold, celebratory, fabulous pieces and shapes. Bold shoulders, thinner waists, dolman sleeves and maximalist overall silhouettes. It really emphasises the fabulous shapes of a woman in all of her sizes. It often happens to be modest in terms of the sleeve coverage and the very austere turtlenecks. The colours were also classic, fabulous eighties: colour blocking of hot magenta, teal, bright yellow and green in bold shapes. In terms of pieces that stood out, it’s all about the oversized blazer. You want the shoulders to be too big, so you can belt it, wear it over a dress or with menswear – matching trousers. The other key trend that we have seen is menswear tailoring co-opted by women, deconstructed suits that you can wear as a feminine look or simply as a suit.

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Richard Quinn

What were your favourite collections?

In New York, Matthew Adams Dolan is an up and comer, and we’ll be launching him soon on The Modist. He’s a young talent and an LVMH Prize finalist, and we’re loving what he’s doing. He represents the next point of the menswear trend that is gaining traction – it is refreshing and consistent, feminine and strong.

As for London, Richard Quinn, besides the Instagram sensation of the two queens of fashion in the UK (the Queen and Anna Wintour) in the front row of his show, he has really made a name for himself as being bold and inventive – a master of prints and colours and not to mention couture shapes.

In Milan, we’re loving LaDoubleJ, a beloved brand and woman to The Modist. She is staying strong with her vintage-inspired prints and silhouettes, and introduced a variety of couture shapes this season that are perfect for the woman who desires to make a statement but also be covered in a tasteful way.

Last but not least, in Paris, Haider Ackermann – yet another heartbreakingly beautiful show from the master. He is the man of tailoring while still having a unique point of view on print and shape – always signature to him but always feeling bleeding-edge current. His use of an acid green and a rust orange mixed with leopard, tiger and blush velvet was nothing less than a privilege to behold.

 

Claire Miles, head of The Shop at Bluebird

Claire the bluebird

How would you sum up the season?

Fashion got fun this season. Metallics in the form of sequins and lurex reigned supreme, seen on everything from tailoring though to footwear. Americana and Western influences were playful – tongue-in-cheek but still tasteful.

The days of minimalism were absent this season as we saw a return to glamorous fashion. Dressing up has never been cooler – as seen across the numerous front rows as well as the runways across all four cities.

This season’s shows were experimental. Theatre and production were elevated, showcasing the themes of the collections as much as the product themselves. It was definitely a season of firsts – highlighted best with the Queen’s appearance at Richard Quinn.

What stood out?

Women’s suiting has been coveted for a few seasons now, but autumn 18 looks set to be its prime. Almost all brands we saw in both our pre-autumn and autumn 18 appointments built luxe tailoring in unexpected colours and prints into the core of their collections.

Checked prints and fabrics were also still very prominent, while jacquards – particularly those with lurex – stood out for evening, while luxurious fabrics such as satin and velvet have become daywear essentials.

The colour palette was warmer than years prior, while zebra prints felt fresh, especially on outerwear.

What were your favourite collections?

We started our buying cycle in London, where Christopher Bailey’s final show at Burberry was the hero moment. Although we do not stock Burberry at The Shop at Bluebird, his rainbow colour palette set the tone for many of the shows. This is a trend we’ll invest for autumn 18 – particularly from Mira Mikati and MSGM, which are firm favourites with our customers.

In Milan, we concentrated our time on the showrooms as we pride ourselves on picking up lesser-known brands that really offer our customer something different. This season, I loved Dusan – it has honed in on designing products that our woman can wear every day, while still making a fashion statement.

In Paris, we bought into the Western theme from Chloé – Natacha Ramsay-Levi’s luxury take on this trend will offer our customers those lust-worthy investment pieces of the season, while remaining timeless. Alexander McQueen’s collection was exquisite as always – enhanced by a strong theme of “expressions of femininity” with a stunning butterfly print.

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Chloé

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