New, new, new; the fashion mantra from which the interim seasons were born. It’s no longer just spring/summer and autumn/winter; cruise and pre-fall are the collections that straddle both, or as some industry insiders are starting to call it ‘swinter’ (summer/winter) – sating Generation Next and giving us even more to covet…
We’ve been to the shows, and we’ve sampled the samples, Here are top four pre-fall collections…
Unsurprisingly, Dior’s first ever pre-fall outing (officially named Esprit Dior Tokyo) was as striking, as refreshing and – crucial for these commercially-minded interim seasons – as wearable as you’d expect. A game of contrasts, much like the city Raf Simons had decided to show it in, the collection reflected the Japanese capital’s intriguing dichotomy. Utilitarian fabrics (waxed cotton or English wool) on boxy Bar coats or Fair Isle knits, but layered over shimmering sequin-sprayed turtlenecks. Matte/shiny, masculine/feminine, day/evening – Simons covered all bases like it was no big deal. What a hero.
When Alexander Wang – a designer as entwined with sports-luxe as Saint Laurent was with Le Smoking – took the reigns at Balenciaga, a Parisian couture house of the highest order, eyebrows were raised. Two full fashion cycles later and Wang’s urban aesthetic has been married to Balenciaga’s elegant DNA with such sleek synergy that it feels like they were actually destined for eachother. What’s more, the pre-fall collection – all sheared mink, dandyish silk scarves and heirloom-style brooches – was a triumph of texture and tailoring. A streetwear spin came in the form of graffiti spray-paint on neat coats and separates. Well, you can take the boy out of New York…
Valentino has carved out an ultra-feminine niche occupied by romance, flowers, and dedication to a throwback silhouette – from sharp 60s minis to sweeping 70s gowns. And speaking of the 70s, this season the house chose an icon of the era, Celia Birtwell (wife of the late Ossie Clark) to collaborate on the prints, and Pop Artist Giosetta Fioroni to create the recurring heart motif, declaring: ‘Your eyes are the eyes of a woman in love.’ Throw in some denim culottes, celestial prints and a darker riff on the rainbow stripes that were last season’s hero and it’s no wonder our eyes are looking quite so enamoured.
The 70s – both a golden age for Gucci and a reference point ever since. A strong signature aesthetic, moulded every season into contemporary incarnations, but rooted firmly in retro. For pre-fall, for example, it came in the guise of razor-sharp tailored flares, thick-rimmed glasses and an abundance of snakeskin. Frida Giannini (incidentally, in her swan song collection for the house) wove the DNA into little leather shift dresses, geometric jacquards and luscious shearling coats, finishing looks with pointed python brogues and mannish appeal. It was Gucci at its best.