Drapers speaks to some of the industry’s most influential buyers on the key trends and stand out collections from the autumn 16 womenswear catwalk season.
Anita Barr, group buying director at Harvey Nichols
We saw a lot of the power houses showcasing commercial collections, largely driven by the see-now buy-now move in the market. At Balenciaga, Demna Gvasalia created a collection that was really relevant yet commercial; the show covered off all the wardrobe essentials – the pea coat, the trench and leather jacket - in a new and exciting way.
The key trends were feline prints, fur and fake fur, velvet, jewel tones with jewel embellishment, lurex and all things shiny seen across all categories, checks including tweed, Prince of Wales and houndstooth, and statement outerwear, including puffa jackets, coloured shearling and embroidered coats.
My favourite show in New York was Brandon Maxwell, but I also loved Public School. It was great to have Alexander McQueen showing at London Fashion Week again, it brought an element of theatre to shows this season. However, everyone was talking about the new direction for Mulberry, which is really exciting. Alessandro Michele can do no wrong, his Gucci show was yet another example of how the Italian labels are leading the fashion pack right now and making Milan Fashion Week relevant again. At Harvey Nichols, the reaction we’ve seen [towards Gucci] has been amazing and for autumn 16 we’ll be investing heavily in Italian brands across the business to celebrate this exciting time for Italian design. In Paris, the Dries Van Noten show was beautiful, the mix of colours, print and fabrication was just sensational, while J.W. Anderson presented his best collection yet for Loewe.
Helen David, fashion director at Harrods
With a lot of movement within the big fashion houses, and a lot of talk about how the fashion industry is to function moving forward, there was an air of transformation across the cities, particularly Paris. We saw a lot of very strong collections which were beautiful, on point, and relevant. These in themselves made it a strong and commercial season, given that whenever change is in the air, everyone wants an entirely new wardrobe.
Outerwear was without doubt the trend of the season. Statement outerwear continues to rule the catwalks, particularly at Chanel, Balenciaga, Burberry, and Prada. This season it is not so much about the outfit, but rather, what is worn over it. Maxi coats ruled every catwalk, along with embellished and embroidered statement outerwear. Think less practical, and more dramatic.
Embellishment also stands out as a key trend as seen at Chanel, Prada, Valentino, and Miu Miu amongst almost every other brand. With charms, paillettes, and embroidery making frequent appearances.
Velvet is the fabric of the season, and was often translated into eveningwear, whilst the colour palette is decidedly and appropriately autumnal with rust, chocolate, forest greens, deep purples and clarets strewing the runways. Fur was everywhere, especially at Prada and Fendi.
The 1980s still rule: Saint Laurent and Isabel Marant in particular chose to completely ignore the current date and sent out very directional shows. It was the 1980s in those shows; by day Isabel Marant looks and by night Saint Laurent couture. Why not?
Belts are the accessory of the season with a cinched waist a necessity. Worn over dresses, cardigans, coats, or anything.
Scott Tepper, buying director at Liberty
We found the season to be full of very saleable returns to past greatest hits in fashion, which will create terrific interest as they hit a new generation. Maximalism is sure to create excitement at all price points. Obviously Gucci is the father of the movement, but we are also excited about the strong showings from Vivetta, Marco de Vincenzo, Missoni, and Stella Jean.
Other key trends we are focusing on this season include the menswear influence, most important on the great coats and slouchy suiting at Dries Van Noten and Isabel Marant in menswear fabrics. As well as the lurex knitwear, haute puffy coats, long knife pleat skirts, and the omnipresent velvet we’ve seen so much of.
Valentino was a magical moment that defied trends, their dance inspired collection was the most emotional and haunting moment of the season.
Judd Crane, director of womenswear at Selfridges
Autumn 16 is characterised by a further move towards the avant garde and an interesting balance between the commercial and creative. It’s a mood we’ve seen and been excited by in each fashion capital. We loved Miuccia Prada’s exploratory spectacle in Milan, the Parisian revolution led by Vetements and Jonathan Anderson’s cerebral, precise vision for London.
Stephen Ayres, fashion director at Avenue 32
Spring 16 for me was a strong and confident season. I felt pre-collections were overall a little disappointing so it was great to see some strong creativity on the autumn 16 runways alongside collections that were beautifully crafted yet will be commercial to the end consumer.
The main standout trend of the season came in the form of fabrication. Velvet was everywhere this season and has been used to make sumptuous pieces across all categories; dresses, trousers, coats, bags, shoes – you name it.
Silhouette and references seemed to touch each decade with 1950, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s all being given a new point of view for 2016.
Dresses seemed to take a step back as separates got given more attention for the winter season.
My stand out collections were Roksanda, Sonia Rykiel, Delpozo, Haider Ackerman, Marco di Vincenzo, Balenciaga and Simone Rocha.
Laura Larbalestier, buying director at Browns
This season was very creative, designers really took their own direction and made very strong statements.
Velvet is one of the key trends on the runway. We noticed this across all four cities, from jumpsuits, to dresses, suits and coats. Velvet was everywhere!
My favourite collections were Proenza Schouler, Marques Almeida, Gucci, and Dries Van Noten.
Leila Yavari, fashion director of Stylebop
The magpie mood of seasons past really took hold across the cities, offering a sumptuous mix of visual references: textures, proportions, hemlines, you name it. I think in part this is due to a questioning that seems to be permeating the industry—there’s definitely change a foot. For some, it lead to somewhat muddled presentations, where the mix-match of references overwhelmed any cohesive message. I think the best channelled this uncertainly into a type of glamour that is difficult to categorize: eclectic, slightly intellectual and a bit undone.
The dominant mood was all about creating rich visual mix, heavy on texture and embellishment. I loved the romantic turn this took at houses like Prada and Simone Rocha. At Marc Jacobs it went a bit 1990s gothic Victorian.
Long and slinky silhouettes also dominated with the maxi dress and maxi skirt becoming a key layering element—for instance at Nica Ricci, Celine and Stella McCartney—those louche layers seemed to signal a turn to fashion that not only looks good but also feels good. Alternately, the maxi coat offered a great alternative with standouts at Sonia Rykiel.
Finally, functional outerwear got amazing attention—sometimes bordering on couture-like reinventions. The puffer, the bomber and the parka all received makeovers, with dramatic silhouettes, decadent treatments and artful details. The velvet puffers at Stella, the big coats at Alexander Wang and, of course, all the outerwear at Balenciaga really epitomized this and they are destined to be best sellers.
My favourite shows were Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney and Celine.
Candice Fragis, buying and merchandising director at Farfetch
Autumn 16 is a melting pot of too many different directions to sum it up as one thing. There is a mood of change, confusion and rebellion. There is some real excitement with a range of new players, especially in Milan and Paris.
Exaggerated silhouettes, oversized and backward shirting, opulent fabrics prevalent with rich velvets, fur and sequins, 1980’s glamour and novel layering in the form of many strappy silk tops and dresses over knitwear, continued presence of a redefined 1990’s streetwear, statement knitwear and a plethora of strong outerwear.
In New York Tome is a favourite and Sies Marjan presented a strong first collection - certainly a brand I’m looking forward to seeing evolve. London reigned with Simone Rocha, who has elevated herself to new heights. Erdem was beautiful as always and collections like Barbara Casasola and 1205 are refreshingly sticking to what they do best; and they both do their thing beautifully.
Milan was an incredibly strong season with Lorenzo Serafini for Philosophy leading the pack of new life in the city. Probably my favourite show of the season.
Paris was full of diversity with notable consistency. Dries Van Noten was perfection and Haider Ackerman gave me goose bumps. Loewe was a stand out for me and Y/Project is my one, of many, to watch.
Stavros Karelis, founder of Machine A
I think it was an interesting season overall, due to recent announcements and changes in direction of leading brands, which as a result created a sense of anticipation, a certain level of uncertainty and unknown which I found quite refreshing and stimulating for the brands. It was a mixture of creative and safe approach with some brands taking the position of trend setters and some others just following up and playing it safe.
I think the influence of Martin Margiela to so many brands this season was extremely obvious. 1970s, 1980s and 1990s have again been revisited again too.
Nicolas Ghesquiere for Louis Vuitton, Y-Project, ALYX, Richard Malone and Prada were my favourite shows.