The autumn 07 trends on show in Dusseldorf suggested a strong season for mainstream womenswear. Black dominated a sober palette, which also comprised midnight blue, chocolate and grey. Despite their lack of commercial success in the contemporary arena for autumn 06, pewter and dove grey looked fresh and featured in most collections.
Taking the shade a step further, silver offered a shimmering alternative to grey, with metallic fabrics and yarns lending a more glamorous edge. Shirts came in ruffled silver taffeta, while golden Lurex yarn was incorporated in jackets, coats and knitwear, which also featured foiling. Key pieces included jackets in velvet - a key fabric for the season - to fine-gauge knits in vivid purple.
Vermillion, ice blue and raspberry featured as highlight colours, although baby pink was still in evidence and winter white looked luxurious on wool coats and chunky knits. In knitwear, longer-line knee-length cardigan/coat hybrids were key, as brands sought to offer buyers a safety net against unpredictable weather. Similarly, down-filled jackets and parkas came in lighter weights than autumn 06. Brands recognised the need for trans-seasonal looks, with layering a key merchandising tactic.
Trousers and skirts both featured heavily. Trouser lengths ranged from knee-length city shorts and culottes to mid-calf, cropped and full lengths, with looks in tweed, synthetic fabrics and lightweight wool. After several seasons awash with dresses, skirts were key. Gently fluted, panelled styles reflected a shift to a softer silhouette, and were often used as the foil for dramatic floral prints.
Leopard prints leapt into the mainstream from jackets and blazers to dresses, skirts and tops. A heritage mood permeated many ranges, with plaid, tweed, houndstooth and Glen checks were borrowed from men's tailoring.
The leather jacket was back with a bang for autumn 07, offering an alternative big-ticket item in a season when buyers are generally lacking confidence in outerwear. Leathers took in cropped biker styles and brushed canvas-look finishes as well as classic blazers and crumpled-effect bomber jackets.
Brands embraced grey once again, with particular emphasis on knits and outerwear. The sombre shade became the base for contrasting textures with details such as satin taping on jackets introduced by designers. Chunky knits with deep cable constructions added surface interest.
Whether belted, buttoned or in dress shapes, the long-line knit featured in most ranges. Brands used a play-safe palette on this suddenly ubiquitous product category, almost all were grey, with some venturing into biscuit and winter white.
Asymmetric cuts, ruffled lapels and insert plackets added feminine details to a trend inspired by masculine fabrics. Tweed, houndstooth and glen checks were used on tailoring and outerwear. Most used traditional autumnal shades including brown and biscuit, not to mention the season's favourite grey.
Biker and bomber-inspired leather jackets injected a casual feel to this category, with more refined options coming from tailored styles. Black, cream, plum and chocolate shades were popular, while brushed finishes and crumpled effects added texture.
A luxurious-looking counterpoint to the black and grey that was dominant in so many collections, winter white featured on heavy knitwear and on lightweight nylon and wool outerwear. Cobweb and crochet knits were accompanied by oversized collars and extra-long sleeves for an apres-ski feel.
DUSSELDORF AUTUMN 07
Silver was a directional move on from the grey that appeared in many of the ranges in Dusseldorf, and means that brands will continue to use metallics to offer luxury and texture in autumn 07. Pewter and mink shades also shimmered on outerwear while gold foiling and yarn was used on knits.
Leopard print was used across all categories, but morphed into a variety of styles. The natural look of yellow and black was most popular, but brands also used grey and white as the base colour. Spot sizes also varied, with mini or oversized versions looking more subtle.
In a season that looked more luxurious overall, velvet played a big part. Although used only in small doses - usually on smarter jackets - the fabric was a feature of many brands' collections for autumn 07. Bright blue, purple and tomato red shades punctuated the darker looks and added a touch of drama.
WHAT THE BUYERS SAID ...
- ALISON GINGELLE, owner of Women at Large in Coventry
"The show gives a good overview of the whole season. We're looking for soft, less structured styles as suiting has not been doing well. This winter has been a sign of the future, so we're looking for lighter weight fabrics. The whole industry needs to adapt if we want to buy product trans-seasonally. At Women at Large we're still mainly buying forward order, holding back no more than 10% for short order. But that will change."
- CAROLINE DYCHE, owner of Caroline B in Alton, Hampshire
"We're buying animal prints with care, going only for linings or more muted leopard print details, which is what our customers prefer. We have not been hit so badly by the weather as we didn't buy into heavy knitwear and we'll not pull it in this year either. Lightweight knitwear is more important, so people can go for layering. We're also looking for long-sleeved T-shirts, which will be key for us. We won't sell any outerwear."
- DEBORAH LAWSON, owner of Poppy in Lytham St Annes, Lancashire
"We're here to view our existing brands in their entirety as well as some new collections. We'll be buying into cropped trousers and leggings - that cleaner look. We're not necessarily seeking out colour, but instead are interested in texture. We need lighter winter clothing - finer weights are essential and we won't be buying any coats. We plan to get a lot of our buying done in Dusseldorf."
- LEANDA WALTERS, joint owner of Beige Plus in Barnet, north London
"Animal prints come up each winter - the Germans love it, but we only sell a tiny bit. It looks great on skinny women but less attractive on 16-plus sizes. But it could work for us in accessories. We go for a normal look, not overly layered, but quite structured. The trouser shape is more important than colour. Silhouettes are becoming narrower and we're seeing more batwing and dolman sleeves. The deeper V-necks also suit larger women."
- LISA HEMSTOCK, owner of Sister in Sheffield
"There's a lot of grey, but our fashion-forward customers have already done it. The thing with grey is that while one woman can't stand it, the other woman loves it. Finer knitwear is important, as are raincoats, and customers are also crying out for hoods. We use this show to apportion our budget, and make decisions when we get home. At the moment we save about 10% of our budget for short order, but that is likely to grow to 20% so we can pick up on trends."
- SUSAN AND JOHN BULLOCK, owners of Eden in Nottingham
"Autumn is our best season, as people are buying more clothing for layering. We're not looking for trends - we do our own thing, and with womenswear up 25% on last year, we're optimistic. We'll look at Hebbeding here, which has lots of black, white and grey. It's a real cult brand for us. But we also go for splashes of colour across the shop."