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Fashion Week: the spring 18 womenswear buyers' verdict

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The season-defining shows, top trends to know and key items topping their buying list, Drapers asked buyers from Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, Farfetch, Stylebop, The Shop at Bluebird and The Modist to give you their verdict on the spring 18 womenswear catwalk season.

From New York, to London, Milan and finally Paris, the spring 18 womenswear catwalk season is complete. You can catch up on the key collections and trend analysis here, and read below for industry insight from top level buyers from across the industry.

Anita Barr, group fashion director, Harvey Nichols

Anita barr, group fashion director at harvey nichols1

How would you sum up the season?

This season’s shows were a mixed bag. Despite the question marks that surrounded New York Fashion Week – several high-profile brands chose to show in Paris or London instead – it was a really strong season for those who did show there. I thought spring 18 was the best London Fashion Week I’ve ever attended. I was so excited and proud that our designers pulled out all the stops on home turf. The Paris collections were exceptionally strong: it’s hard to pick a favourite as there is so much fantastic talent there and a few debuts for designers at huge fashion houses, which definitely added to the excitement.

What trends or pieces stood out?

We saw a pastel colour palette in London and in Paris it has been about the bold colours. There were still lots of floral prints on many of the catwalks, as well as print on print.

The oversized trend continued to grow, into bags, coats and knits. I loved the oversized white sweater worn over a long white skirt at Stella McCartney.

What were your favourite collections?

In New York, the highlight has to be Raf Simons’ second collection for Calvin Klein. There was something for everyone: from leather skirts, to sheer dresses, to fabulous shirts – and all in strong tones. Monse’s Americana collection was another favourite, including its cool upside-down varsity jackets and off-the-shoulder knitwear.

In London, I loved Roksanda with her simplistic styling and beautiful colour palette, which was much softer than usual. Erdem was another favourite, the designer brought a touch of old fashion glamour to his show which was beautifully executed. Finally, at JW Anderson there was a beautiful feminine and naturalistic quality to the collection, a soft edge which hasn’t always been apparent.

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Calvin Klein spring 18

The Versace tribute show would have to be the highlight of Milan Fashion Week. Gianni was one of a kind and the show was a retrospective of his past work and featured the most beautiful models from the 1990s, which made everyone feel very nostalgic. I also loved Lucie and Luke Meiers first womenswear collection for Jil Sander: it was cool and relevant. We loved the men’s in June and the women’s was even better.

Paris had so many highlights that it’s hard to pick just a couple highlights. Dries Van Noten, which is always an absolute favourite, had a fantastic season once again. For me, this spring collection is probably the best to date. It was great to see Stella McCartney use such a strong colour palette, which made for an upbeat show. I always like the way the collection is presented at Balenciaga. We only had a couple of seconds to take in each look, which makes us excited to see it in the showroom after the show. The much-anticipated Givenchy collection, Clare Waight Keller’s first for the brand, was great. She didn’t change too much and is staying true to the brand’s DNA, whereas Natacha Ramsay-Levi has given the Chloé girl a bit of attitude, which I really liked – it was a great change for the brand.

Finally, I’m obsessed with Haider Ackermann’s new collection – he’s always a personal favourite.

Drie rtw ss18 1779

Dries Van Noten spring 18

Lydia King, director of womenswear, Selfridges

Lydia King, director of womenswear, Selfridges

How would you sum up the season?

The season was a real mixture of creative and commercial. Fashion month finished on a high in Paris with the amazing spectacle of the Thom Browne show.

What trends or key pieces stood out?

There was bold colour from the start in New York and this continued, particularly with pillar-box red and various shades of yellow and darker racing green. Denim was a continuous thread interpreted in a huge variety of ways, and there was a lot of fluidity with fabrics. Fringing was also referenced in all four cities.

What were your favourite collections?

Calvin Klein showed a continuation of Raf Simons’ new direction with an “American psycho” theme, including axes hung above our heads on the front row. Monse was beautiful – this is the brand our entire team is waiting to be delivered. Zimmermann showed a great burst of fresh new experimental shapes in some of the most beautiful prints of the season.

In Milan Versace was mega and in London Simone Rocha, Roksanda and Erdem stood out, while Mary Katrantzou was absolutely show-stopping.

In Paris there were too many to name but our highlights were Sacai, Balmain and Comme des Garçons. Rick Owens and Thom Browne led the way in creativity and craftsmanship.

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Monse spring 18

Candice Fragis, buying and merchandising director, Farfetch

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

How would sum up the season?

This has been an inspiring season. In almost every city we saw references to the legacies of established brands and also poignant moments in fashion history. It is both emotional and exciting to see a new interpretation of a brand’s heritage, as well as a huge influx of newer designers making their mark.

What trends or key pieces stood out?

The overriding mood for me was one of fun and lightness. Brands are adopting a fresh attitude that focuses on freedom, positivity and letting go.

Colour stands out this season, from colour blocking in shades of pink, blue and red, to eveningwear in bold emeralds. Combinations of silk and lace also stood out. The check print is the focus this season, it features heavily from coats and quilts to shoes. Cowboy boots are still very prevalent – the trend has evolved into a heeled mule, which I loved at Maison Margiela and Each x Other. Another key item this season is the trench with a twist as seen at Burberry, AWAKE and Loewe.

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Burberry autumn 17

What were your favourite collections?

In New York, Helmut Lang felt charged under the new direction of Isabella Burley and designer-in-residence Shayne Oliver. Calvin Klein continues to delight with Americana uniform dressing and a nod to the 1970s – this time with so much more colour.

Preen by Thornton Bregazzi was romantic, sophisticated and sexy all at once in London. I loved the soft fabrics and colour palette.

The Versace finale with the original supermodel pack closing the show was an epic fashion moment. The anniversaries of super-brands and a celebration of their legacies were a  highlight in Milan – from 20 years at Versace and Missoni, to 50 years at Etro. I also really loved the lightness and femininity of the Jil Sander collection, whilst still feeling directional.

Loewe felt more relaxed and had an element of sophisticated hippie in Paris. So many great pieces with which to build a beautiful wardrobe.

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Loewe spring 18

Coco Chan, head of womenswear, Stylebop

Cocochan stylebop[1]

How would you sum up the season?

Spring 18 was all about inventive clothes for the here and now. Designers are clearly still focused on daytime and wardrobe mainstays, and the challenge was to make these go-to pieces feel fresh and dynamic. The best collections accomplished that, transcending the everyday with the extraordinary: tactile textures, artisan touches, striking cuts. There were plenty of takeaway pieces. The moral for me is that commerce and creativity need not be opposed.

What trends or key pieces stood out?

Arts and crafts dominated in teh form of tactile treatments such as crochet, patchwork, fringe, hand-braiding and frayed ends. The look is more homespun than hippie, and the best iterations took this humble inspiration and elevated it with sophisticated silhouettes and refined fabrics for an approachable take on luxury.

The 1980s are officially back. Whereas autumn 17 focused more on evening, for spring 18 designers turned to daytime. I love the emphasis on cut and volume – the mutton-sleeve, the strong shoulder, slouchy suiting – as a way to refresh the modern uniform.

Pastels set the palette: hues such as lilac, mint, periwinkle and baby yellow took centre stage. These worked best on diaphanous and semi-sheer fabrics to convey a sense of lightness and ease, and also to breathe fresh life into closet staples.

In terms of standout pieces, the anorak is the cover-up to own this spring: there were amazing iterations in leather, organza, satin and more. I love the clash of utility and luxury. A patchwork midi-dress is also a must, as well as an artisan accessory, either braided leather, fringe or both.

What were your favourite collections?

Calvin Klein in New York, where Raf Simons continued his meditation on Americana through mid-century silhouettes and utility fabrics such as nylon. Those finale dresses in particular were both romantic and subversive.

In London Roksanda offered one of the best iterations on the arts and crafts trend. I love the raffia dresses with balloon sleeves and frayed edges, as well as the rope details and the nods to the tablecloths and kitchen towel checks. Her expert cuts transformed these references into something mesmerising and approachable.

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Vers rtw ss18 1164

Versace, spring 18

In Milan, Versace was a favourite, where Donatella cemented the house legacy by revisiting the archives. From the head-to-toe pastels to iconic Medusa prints and Pop Art bodysuits, she proved the timeless appeal of more-is-more glamour.

In Paris, Balenciaga continued to spearhead a subversive take on designer signatures, playing with the house codes. I imagine this will elicit plenty of strong split reactions and I think that’s part of the point: making us think about the clothes we wear in new and different ways and for me that’s always a good thing.

 

Claire Miles, head of The Shop at Bluebird

Claire miles, head of the shop at bluebird

How would sum up the season?

The overwhelming sense I have had this season is a return to romantic fashion. It’s about dressing up and having fun with what you wear.

What trends or key pieces stood out?

In terms of colours there was a lot of pastels and nudes as well as standout red tones. Sequins and lurex were everywhere, alongside a lot of organza, which created some really strong looks like at Ulla Johnson. I also saw a lot more oriental influences than previous seasons coming through in collections like Peter Pilotto and Racil. Finally there was extensive use of Broderie Anglais from the likes of Isabel Marant, 3.1 Phillip Lim and Ulla Johnson again.

What were your favourite collections?

From New York it was Victoria Beckham, who was on top form with a collection of beautiful dresses and chic separates. I particularly loved the glitter Harper shoe. In London Peter Pilotto did not disappoint with its stunning new collection. Finally, in Paris it was Chloé for me – its new creative director has brought a youthful energy to the brand along with some much-needed edge.

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Chloé spring 18

 

Sasha Sarokin, buying and fashion director, The Modist

Sashasarokin

How would you sum up the season?

I think this season was very maximalist. It was all about the bright colours – lots of emerald, tangerine and pinks everywhere. It was exciting to see so many bold prints and plenty of high-shine fabrics abound too.

What trends or key pieces stood out?

I noticed a lot of designers using sheer layers this season. In terms of moods and trends, I think you can definitely see a return to exuberant romanticism, which is just so perfect for a true spring season.

What were your favourite collections?

I saw lots of incredible collections this season but from Paris, I absolutely loved Ellery; my favourite from New York was Adam Lippes’ collection; in London, I loved Erdem; and For Restless Sleepers was my Milan highlight.

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Erdem spring 18

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