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Buyers' highlights from autumn 20's catwalks

Dior autumn 20

Womenswear buyers from leading luxury retailers share their top trends, must-buys and key moments from the New York, London, Milan and Paris shows.

International catwalks were confronted by challenges this season, not least coronavirus, which restricted travel, and led Giorgio Armani to close the doors to its show at last minute and livestream it from Milan instead.

But autumn 20 brought many memorable highlights – including the announcement that Raf Simons was joining Prada as co-creative director from spring 21, Balenciaga’s water-submerged runway and Dior’s feminist focusTop womenswear buyers look back at the season and share their picks with Drapers.

Natalie Kingham, fashion and buying director, Matchesfashion

Natalie kingham, buying director, matchesfashion.com

Natalie Kingham, buying director, Matchesfashion

How would you sum up the autumn 20 catwalk season?

Despite the current global challenges, the mood has been positive with lots of strong outerwear, dresses and boots, and a big bang in Paris with Balenciaga’s impactful show.

Which city is delivering the most exciting collections right now?

I am always inspired by London, my home, as the scope of talent and influences is so wide. Milan also packed a punch this season: I really enjoyed Gucci and Jil Sander.

Nensi Dojoka autumn 20

Nensi Dojoka autumn 20

What were your favourite collections?

Jil Sander was elegant and refined, Valentino created a uniform for all and Molly Goddard’s collection was joyful – she continues to show us her breadth each season, which is exciting.

Did you discover any new brands this season?

Fashion East in London is such a great platform for creativity and each season goes from strength to strength – Nensi Dojaka was a key highlight.

What trends stood out?

Oversized outerwear as seen at JW Anderson, stomping boots at Valentino. Key colours for the season are tan and red, while the use of PVC was interesting.

Maria Milano, head of womenswear, Harrods 

Maria Milano, head of womenswear, Harrods

Maria Milano, head of womenswear, Harrods

How would you sum up the autumn 20 catwalk season?

It has been a really elevated season full of glamorous looks and very creative shows. We’ve have been impressed with how our existing brands have upped the ante in terms of fabrics and innovation. Buying better is on everyone’s mind and the brands have worked hard to deliver this message this season.

Which city is delivering the most exciting collections right now?

Each city had its own highlights but for autumn 20, Milan was exceptionally strong. Prada was a highlight with sexy fringing-meets-power suits, and culminated in the news that Raf Simons is joining Miuccia as co-creative director from spring 21.

With its myriad collaborations and capsules, Moncler delivered unparalleled creativity. Jil Sander, new for Harrods for autumn 20, was the height of sophistication, and Fendi’s sculptural silhouettes and balloon sleeves were the definition of modern femininity.

With creative director Daniel Lee now fully settled into his role after three seasons at Bottega Veneta, he delivered a powerful line-up of womenswear and menswear, exuding a new level of confidence in his woman. Read: The Bottega Veneta renaissance under Daniel Lee

Khaite autumn 20

Khaite autumn 20

What were your favourite collections?

In New York, we loved Khaite, Proenza Schouler, The Row, Gabriela Hearst, Area and Oscar de la Renta.

In London it was Petar Petrov, AWAKE Mode, Roksanda, Simone Rocha and Victoria Beckham that stood out.

In Milan, Prada, Fendi, Bottega Veneta, Jil Sander and Moncler were all impressive and in Paris we especially loved Chanel, Paco Rabanne, Lanvin, Loewe and Thom Browne.

Are there any designers or brands that you discovered new this season?

We have picked up several brands that are new to market, including Area, Materiel and Mark Kenly Domino Tan. New to Harrods this season are Thom Browne, Marni, Martin Margiela, Jil Sander, Simone Rocha and Proenza Schouler.

What trends stood out?

The stand-out theme was a new-found sense of glamour, whether it was sexy or powerful. Other trends include fringing, balloon sleeves, cape-back gowns and tops, power shoulders, bib collars and leather, real and fake.

In terms of colours, black reigned supreme but we also saw lots of icy pastels, including yellow, ice blue and lilac, as well as pops of lime, purple and red.

Tiffany Hsu, buying director, Mytheresa

tiffany hsu fashion buying director mytheresa

Tiffany Hsu, fashion buying director, MyTheresa

Did you discover any new designers or brands this season?

I have been paying close attention to the development of Peter Do and this season was definitely his strongest collection so far. He has successfully developed a distinct point of view, which is making his designs instantly recognisable.

I fell in love with French label Coperni, which has a well-established identity that reflects the zeitgeist perfectly. The flip-flop heels and the geometric bags will be loved by the fashion-savvy customer

I have been following Charlotte Knowles for a while, and this season the collection is very mature and easy to wear – I love the bodycon 1990s sensibility.

Nensi Dojaka‘s debut collection with Fashion East really stood out, I liked the minimalistic aesthetic – it is both sexy and very masculine at the same time.

Petar Petrov is not a new name but it was the brand’s first ever show in London. His tailoring skills are exceptional – all pieces fit just perfectly.

Wardrobe.NYC is not a new brand either but it has just started to wholesale properly. I liked its simple and well-cut silhouettes.

Saint Laurent autumn 20

Saint Laurent autumn 20

What were your favourite collections?

Saint Laurent, Miu Miu and Balenciaga have been my personal highlights. Everyone will agree that Balenciaga had the most impressive show venue this season in Paris. Models wading through water, the light installation flickering from above and the first few seats submerged gave the show an impressive apocalyptic atmosphere.

Simone Rocha, JW Anderson and Richard Quinn were my favorites in London.

Khaite and The Row were amazing in New York, and my Milan favorites were Jil Sander, Bottega Veneta and Prada.

What trends stood out?

Paris showcased a lot a fetish PVC fabrics, dark colourings and rough boots, which were omnipresent in so many collections, starting at Saint Laurent and continuing through to Alexander McQueen, Sacai and Valentino.

Tailoring and a focus on broad shoulders continue to develop further as seen at Balenciaga and Balmain.

I would say mainly maximalism, too, the layering of different textures, cut-outs and heavily embellished footwear.

The colour yellow stood out, and we saw a lot of minimalistic cuts-outs and back details such as crystals and chains. White-on-white layering was a recurring theme.

JW Anderson autumn 20

JW Anderson autumn 20

What were some of your key buys?

We will be backing the slick Saint Laurent black patent boot heavily – it will transform any look instantly and PVC leather will be a huge topic for autumn 20. Boots in general will be big for the upcoming season and we are planning for high demand.

Maxi- and mini-bags will continue to be important. Nevertheless, clutches are celebrating a comeback. Valentino and Givenchy offered the most intriguing iterations.

I loved the accessories at JW Anderson: the fluffy ballerina flats, chain loafers and new chain detail bags are right on point.

In terms of shoes, I also think Simone Rocha‘s pearl brogues and MM6 Maison Margiela‘s western boots with chain will perform very well.

Khaite’s pared-down and chic aesthetic is also really resonating with our customers.

Other brands that are performing extraordinarily well are Zimmermann and Self-Portrait.

Ida Petersson, womenswear and menswear buying director, Browns

Ida petersson womenswear buying director browns crop

Ida Petersson, womenswear and menswear buying director, Browns

How would you sum up the autumn 20 catwalk season?

Overall, it was a very strong season. Designers such as Balenciaga had bold statements to make and there was an element of sustainability running throughout all of the cities.

Which city is delivering the most exciting collections right now?

London was the most exciting, as many of the designers were not afraid of taking risks. Personal favourites were Richard Quinn, Molly Goddard, Victoria Beckham and Fashion East.

Molly Goddard autumn 20

Molly Goddard autumn 20

What were some of your favourite collections?

Khaite, Bottega Veneta, Jil Sander, Marine Serre, Maison Margiela, Richard Quinn, Fashion East and Kenneth Ize all really stood out for me.

What trends stood out?

We’ve seen a huge increase in brands talking to sustainability through either a change of materials or upcycling, which is an amazing step forward.

There was also an emphasis on trenches, thigh splits, PVC across all categories, thigh-high boots, 1990s-inspired looks in general and chunky boots. Costume jewellery, in particular chunky chains and big, gold-plated earrings, were key in accessories. We also saw a big emphasis on fun holders for AirPods and phones.

 

 

 

Lisa Aiken, fashion director, Moda Operandi

Lisa Aiken, fashion director, Moda Operandi

Lisa Aiken, fashion director, Moda Operandi

How would you sum up the autumn 20 catwalk season?

There was a quiet, chic approach to the season overall. Many designers really focused on creating collections that spoke to a slower fashion cycle, investment dressing and what women really want in their wardrobes.

As a retailer, the excitement for the client comes from identifying key pieces and new ideas that will move a woman’s wardrobe forward. We definitely feel like we have seen designers offer plenty to inspire.

Which city is delivering the most exciting collections right now?

For me, Paris will always lead the way. However, I was pleased to see a step change in the energy and collections throughout Milan Fashion Week. It was a stand-out collection from Prada (which obviously preceded the very exciting news about Raf Simons), Daniel Lee continues to refine his point of view at Bottega Veneta with evolution and there were a few surprises: we loved Jil Sander’s softer take on minimalism, Moncler Genius x JW Anderson is no doubt a hit collaboration, and Etro updated its signature bohemia with a flash of glam shine. 

Gabriela Hearst autumn 20

Gabriela Hearst autumn 20

What were your favourite collections?

New York – Gabriela Hearst, The Row and Proenza Schouler; London – Molly Goddard, Erdem and Christopher Kane; Milan – Prada, Jil Sander and Bottega Veneta; Paris – Valentino, Balenciaga and Paco Rabanne.

Prada delivered a collection that will appeal to a wide breadth of customers. Balenciaga’s commitment to innovate when it comes to technique and fabric will continue to set the pace among the most directional shoppers.

The Row does understated luxury like no other. It is truly incredible that each season the brand is able to introduce new ideas that move its devoted followers’ wardrobes forward, despite the fact that the previous season seems so utterly perfect.

In a similar vein, Gabriela Hearst showed a collection of true investment pieces that are far from “essential” in any way – perhaps that is the definition of modern luxury.

Have you discovered any new designers or brands this season?

While there were a few new brands we will add to our stable this season, I am just as excited about continuing to support some of the emerging talent that we have added to our roster recently.

As an industry, we are often so focused on a first season, but it’s fantastic to see the likes of Peter Do, Amina Muaddi, Deveaux, AWAKE Mode and Cecilie Bahnsen growing their businesses season after season. At Moda, we are very passionate about continuing ongoing support for brands that are still at a relatively early stage of their development.

Proenza Schouler autumn 20

Proenza Schouler autumn 20

Are there any trends that stood out?

Many designers made a statement with head-to-toe black, but made it interesting with an abundance of texture, sheer fabrications and leather.

Tailoring continues to be a key theme – split into the very masculine strong shoulder line and a more feminine silhouette.

We noted a lot of focus on interesting necklines, particularly off-the-shoulder and revealing asymmetric shapes.

Sweater dressing came in body-conscious dresses and co-ordinating separates. 

What were some of your key buys?

Bottega Veneta’s stack heel boots, Prada’s nylon puffer blazers, the bandage dresses at Proenza Schouler, Gabriela Hearst’s fitted leather dress, knit co-ordinates and one-of-a-kind tapestry coats, and square-toed boots at The Row.

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth von der Goltz, global buying director, Net-a-Porter

elizabeth von der goltz 02

Elizabeth von der Goltz, global buying director, Net-a-Porter

How would you sum up the autumn 20 catwalk season?

We’ve seen an exciting mix of new and established designers show an array of pieces that are some of the most wearable we’ve seen in recent seasons. We’ve had some great wardrobing examples from Peter Do in New York, Petar Petrov in London, Saint Laurent in Paris and Bottega Veneta in Milan, among others.

Which city is delivering the most exciting collections right now?

Paris had some real highlights for us, including Sarah Burton’s show which was full of grounded and bold looks, that felt modern while still incorporating Alexander McQueen’s signature antique patchwork details.

We saw a couture sensibility at Balenciaga, through exaggerated shoulders and luscious velvet capes, and beautiful volumes at Saint Laurent – which was one of my favourite shows of Paris Fashion Week.

Balenciaga autumn 20

Balenciaga autumn 20

What were your favourite collections?

I loved Pierpaolo Piccioli’s sartorial instinct show in his latest collection for Valentino, which featured belted cashmere coats, structured leather dresses and rigid necklines. I was pleased to see Daniel Lee continue his momentum at Bottega Veneta and experiment with shearling fringing that, I can already tell, is going to be another instantly identifiable house element.

Khaite was one of the standout shows from New York: the unbuttoned scarf print blouse, the western-inspired boots, and the zebra jacquard trousers and mini-skirts were all exceptional, yet still extremely wearable.

Saint Laurent was the highlight of Paris, as it was filled with exquisite tailored jackets, fabulous masculine overcoats and black latex elements that felt daring, yet still sophisticated.

Bottega Veneta autumn 20

Bottega Veneta autumn 20 

Did you discover any new designers or brands this season?

Gauchére is not necessarily a new designer to Net-a-Porter, as we’ve been mentoring the brand as part of our The Vanguard programme, but it did make its runway debut in Paris this season. It was both a beautiful moment and a beautiful collection, full of great wardrobing pieces that will last through the seasons.

What trends stood out?

It was interesting to see brands bringing sexy back, but in a more modern and updated way. We’ve seen dresses with cut-out details at Khaite and Proenza Schouler, bodycon shapes at Brandon Maxwell, along with wrap details at Burberry and JW Anderson.

We’ve also seen designers experiment with different ways to highlight the décolletage: one-shoulder bardot cuts at Balenciaga, and off-the-shoulder silhouettes and rounded deep plunges at Gabriela Hearst.

We’ve also noticed a renewed interest in both real and fake leather: Jil Sander, Ferragamo and Fendi featured the material heavily within their collections in the form of coats, dresses and trousers.

Last but not least, we’ve noticed a couture sensibility in many of the collections, including Balenciaga, JW Anderson, Molly Goddard and Richard Quinn.

What were some of your key buys?

There were some great new intrecciato bags at Bottega Veneta that I loved, as well as some red, woven “grab and go” clutches at Valentino. We’ve seen some beautifully tailored ready-to-wear pieces from The Row – including waistcoats in gorgeous cream tones.

There were a lot of great over-the-knee boots this season, in patent leather at Saint Laurent, western-inspired at Khaite and “wellington” style at Balenciaga.

Gold, chunky chains are a trend that continues to grow and that we are heavily buying into. We loved the oversized earrings at Saint Laurent, as well as the chandelier-like ones at Valentino, and Balmain. 

Saint Laurent’s tartan, double-breasted blazer with a beautiful velvet collar that opened the show is a gorgeous piece that we’ll also be buying into.

Alexander McQueen autumn 20

Alexander McQueen autumn 20 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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