Top buyers reveal their standout shows from the autumn 17 catwalks, and name the top trends and key buys for the season.
Lisa Aiken Retail fashion director, Net-a-Porter
Net a porter lisa aitken
Autumn 17 has been especially interesting – designers are becoming more and more progressive as seasonless styles come to the forefront. Previously, the “shock of the new” was the approach many brands took, but we’re now seeing fashion houses offering a more consistent approach when it comes to their designs – whether that be Alessandro Michele’s incredible world of Gucci or Demna Gvasalia’s directional vision for the new Balenciaga. It’s less about a constant reinvention and more about giving the woman more options to update her existing wardrobe.
Tailoring was a standout trend, from heritage checks and tweeds to power dressing. The blazer is inevitably the hero piece for this, from Calvin Klein, Tibi, Prada and Gucci.
Designers also embraced bold colour combinations – Calvin Klein featured primary colours, while Gucci and Acne Studios sent hues of purple and neutrals in shades of burgundy, mustard and khaki down the runway. In terms of key pieces, it was all about statement skirts, trench coats in classic and patent versions, fluid dresses and the hero blazer.
Raf Simons for Calvin Klein was a highly anticipated show and did not disappoint. From bold colour blocking to sharp tailoring and reinvented classics such as denim and leather, the collection was incredibly strong.
Victoria Beckham’s show was also notable. She offered effortless, easy dressing with a strong sense of style, featuring oversized sweaters teamed with midi-skirts and boots, with interesting use of colour. Other highlights include Jonathan Saunders’ reinvention of the Diane von Furstenberg woman, Altuzarra’s womanly winter wardrobe and the continuing excitement around Monse.
Preen by Thornton Bregazzi really moved its signature prints and silhouettes forward, and AWAKE designer Natalia Alaverdian married unexpected details and exaggerated design with an easy attitude. Cue more reworked shirting, deconstructed midi-skirts and vivid colour combinations.
Prada autumn 17
Prada’s exuberant, retro-inflected show was memorable. It was a visual feast on the runway and even more exciting in the showroom. Feathers, floral prints, embellished scarves, shearling and poster prints will all be special emotional purchases for our woman next season.
Balenciaga was once again a favourite, as Demna Gvasalia honed his progressive vision. From the outset, our woman has fully embraced even his most directional silhouettes and ideas – we will therefore be taking a position on most of the ideas presented on runway across tailoring, outerwear, print dresses and evening styles.
Other highlights included Off-White’s cult-driven collection, Isabel Marant’s energetic return to form, and both Loewe and Acne Studios’ ability to push our minimalist woman’s wardrobe with new ideas.
Anita Barr Group fashion buying director, Harvey Nichols
Anita Barr, group fashion director at harvey nichols
There was a great energy this season, as designers embraced a playful and positive vibe.
The main trend of the season is attitude and confidence: statement outerwear and slogan T-shirts were everywhere, and feminine tailoring was still a focus. Jewel tones of wine red, cobalt blue, bubblegum pink and bottle green, are key colours.
There were some carry-overs from the spring collections, and sleeve detailing is still a focus. The 1980s references are still there in the patent leathers and metallic accents. Key fabrications and prints include velvet, houndstooth and check reinterpretations.
I loved Raf Simon’s interpretation of Americana with his first Calvin Klein collection. The western-inspired details and cowboy boots were key pieces to look out for.
Coach showed amazing statement outerwear pieces with a hippy-chic edge and outerwear was the focus at another favourite, Helmut Lang.
Design duo Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia showed an edgier collection from their label, Monse, to their its Oscar De La Renta show.
In London, Roksanda was definitely the standout show for us and there were so many pieces in the collection that will resonate really well with the Harvey Nichols customer. Preen was another favourite of mine – edgy but with a real softness. There were lots of strong, bold colours throughout the collection and some fantastic outerwear pieces.
Roland Mouret celebrated its 20th anniversary and to mark the occasion, the designer’s objective was to empower women and make them feel sexy and chic.
Finally, JW Anderson was another favourite. It felt like one of the most commercial collections yet and another one that is very relevant for the Harvey Nichols customer.
Dries Van Noten autumn 17
Hands down the most memorable moment of Paris was Dries Van Noten celebrating the brand’s incredible 100th show. It was amazing – it felt really special to be there and see the spectacle. Other favourites included Balenciaga, Off White and Haider Ackermann
Jeannie Lee Womenswear buying manager, Selfrigdes
Jeannie lee, selfridges womenswear buying manager
This season was creative yet politically charged, as a mix of subtle and open messages for various social causes appeared across catwalk shows, especially in New York and London.
Streetwear continues to pervade in collections such as Proenza Schouler and Versace.
There was a real emphasis on craftsmanship and silhouette, as seen at Comme des Garçons and Balenciaga.
Notable shows include Proenza Schouler and Prabal Gurung – we were so impressed by the latter’s powerful finale that we placed an order for T-shirts straight after. These will be available to buy exclusively in our London store at the end of the month.
I really enjoyed Roksanda and Simone Rocha in London, Versace for its exciting new direction and Gucci in Milan, and Comme des Garçons and Sacai in Paris.
Stephen Ayres Fashion director, Avenue 32
Stephen ayres fashion director at avenue32
Autumn 17 was a season that continued to be driven by a political angle. The runway was a platform for designers to get their voices and opinions heard, and rightly so. In a world full of uncertainty and lack of equality in many areas of life, it’s great to see fashion become political. However, I felt that rather than present the consumer with an escapism from the uncertainty that awaits us, the collections on the whole were quite serious and a reminder of all the terrible things that are happening.
Tailoring was a common trend on the runway, delivering a “meaning business” aesthetic. Necklines were high and hemlines lower, feeling heavier and creating a more covered-up look than recent seasons. It would have been good to see more relaxed collections and a stronger colour palette.
I didn’t feel compelled to focus on trends so much this season, as there seem to be fewer and fewer overriding trends featured, and instead more micro-trends. My focus this season was to source new brands, which was hugely successful and I’m really excited to launch them for autumn 17.
My highlights include Ulla Johnson, Sies Marjan, Roksanda, Alessandra Rich and Dries Van Noten.
Sies Marjan autumn 17
Coco Chan Head of womenswear, Stylebop
Coco chan head of buying stylebop
This season was definitely exciting. Autumn is all about rediscovering the extraordinary in the everyday, and it was a great thrill to see designers rise to the occasion, sending out beautiful, inventive clothes for the modern wardrobe. It was fashion magic – just of a more subtle sort.
Suiting is perhaps the dominant message of the season – it popped up even in the most unexpected places. A marginally oversized, double-breasted blazer should be at the top of everyone’s shopping list, followed by a pair of slightly mannish, but still smart trousers. The long-sleeved midi-dress was also quite central.
Outerwear also went strong, offering reinterpretations of menswear shapes – the mac, the trench and the duffle coat. I loved the spins on Prince of Wales plaid and checks, as well as gabardine. If all of the above sounds run of the mill on paper, it’s because it’s all made to be worn and seen in motion – then the results are mesmerising, like the coats at Balenciaga and Stella McCartney, which I know women will line up for and wear until they’re worn thin.
Standout shows for me were Balenciaga, Céline, Gucci, Simone Rocha, Delpozo, The Row, Calvin Klein and Alexander McQueen.
Simone Rocha autumn 17
Candice Fragis Buying and merchandising director, Farfetch
Candice fragis, buying and merchandising director at farfetch (1)
This season was both inspiring and exciting. It’s all about making a statement, and how brands and designers are using their voice and point of view to rally the fashion troops. From diverse casting in shows to visual statements on clothing to unisex collections and showing men’s and women’s together, everyone has something to say. The mood is about more than just product – it’s about standing up and using our medium of fashion to communicate. It feels almost rebellious and certainly meaningful.
In New York, my highlight was Calvin Klein. I adore [chief creative officer] Raf Simons and this collection felt like a coming home for both him and the brand. The knitwear and cowboy boots particularly rocked my world.
Halpern is a newcomer to London Fashion Week and was my favourite presentation. It was an incredibly strong start and I can’t wait to see this brand evolve. I also loved Joseph – creative director Louise Trotter makes clothes women want to wear.
In Milan, Gucci stood out. The show was spectacular and the genius of Alessandro Michele is his ability to take a cacophony of ideas, references and product and translate it in such a mellifluous way.
Haider Ackermann is always one of my favourite shows in Paris, and this season it was even better than I anticipated.
Haider Ackermann autumn 17
Sasha Sarokin Buying and fashion director, The Modist
The autumn 17 catwalk season was so inspiring. Demure is the new uber-sophistication, and we’re seeing it everywhere. Turtlenecks are under everything, tunics are worn over pants – there’s a confident modernity of the trends that reflects our desire for style in our demanding daily lives.
Retro is still in full swing, though an exuberant feminism is emerging – baby pink paired playfully with lipstick red, opulent velvet in head-to-toe suiting and mismatched prints in florals and jacquards.
Adam Lippes stands out – he precisely considers every item in his collection to strike the balance between chic and indispensable.
Zero + Maria Cornejo continues to deliver elegant, intelligent ease with expert, body-friendly draping.
Preen is more relevant than ever – the maxi-dresses in iconic dynamic prints are fiercely desirable.
Esteban Cortazar is a confident designer finding his stride, and he continues to deliver cuts and shapes that are seen nowhere else.
Stavros Karelis Buying director, Machine-A
Stavros karelis crop
It was a very creative season mainly based on the fact that, regardless of any current socio-political difficulties, I saw emerging designers presenting extremely directional collections with great-quality products and strong ideas. Perhaps the recent political developments have made everyone more alert and more engaged to fight back, and send strong messages. I think it is inspiring to have someone like Ashish showcasing a collection full of messages and signals about many issues that are extremely important to all of us.
I think if there was one colour of the season that dominated the catwalks, that was definitely purple, in many different shades and applied to many different materials.
Thinking of the collections I personally really liked, I’d say the black cage dresses and skirts of Maison Margiela, the beautiful linen pieces of Vejas, the heavily embellished and embroidered pieces of Dilara Findikoglu, the puffa jackets with the leather collars of Alyx and the beautiful tailored suits from Delada.
I loved Y-Project – it was full of breathtaking velvet and silk dresses. I also really loved Noir by Kei Ninomiya’s detailed and excellent craftsmanship. I thought Paula Knorr’s beautiful silk, leather and velvet collection was extremely strong, as were Richard Malone’s woven sculptural pieces. Fashion East’s Matty Bovan and Asai did one of the best shows in London. Gucci dominated Milan, and the most anticipated New York show was Raf Simons at Calvin Klein. It was everything everyone expected – simply perfect.
Calvin Klein autumn 17
Claire Miles Head of The Shop at Bluebird
Claire miles, head of the shop at bluebird
Autumn 17 has definitely been exciting – the collections featured bold colour, artistic detailing and fine craftsmanship.
The strongest message of the season was female empowerment, while the power shoulder and strong suiting trend is back. This will become a key element of our buy for the season, as our customers love tailoring with a high-fashion twist.
Metallics were unmissable, from head-to-toe sequins to sheer lurex and bejewelled embellishments. Delicate embroideries, silk and velvet robe dressing – seen at Racil and Alice Archer – are sure to be a favourite with our customers. Finally, the 1970s were revisited as Studio 54 became a key reference. Even Helmut Lang and Isabel Marant added an unusually refreshing touch of sexy to their collections.
We loved Isa Arfen – this season’s harlequin print is not for the fashion-shy, but is sure to be highly coveted. Alice Archer, an amazing breakthrough British designer, presented a simply beautiful collection – I have my eye on her long silk jacquard robe.
Peter Pilotto had arts and crafts in abundance. We also loved its quilted jackets.
For accessories, Anya Hindmarch is always playful, bringing fun and innovation to her designs. This season her fox camera bag is the hero piece.
Marni autumn 17
In Milan, Marni looked fresh and exciting as Francesco Risso brought a new energy from his time at Prada, while Philosophy Di Lorenzo Serafini, an existing favourite with our customers, promoted strong women with a collection based on Elizabeth Taylor in the 1950s and 1960s, juxtaposed with Lorenzo’s own 1980s influence.
Finally, in Paris, Alexander McQueen is always a stunning show, making me so proud to be British. Meanwhile, Clare Waight Keller’s outbound collection at Chloé was fresh rather than nostalgic. We loved the mohair knits teamed with the oversized trousers.
Laura Larbalestier Buying director, Browns
Buying director laura larbalestier
Designers really seem to be looking to approach fashion in new and interesting ways, and we’re so excited by all the diverse points of view coming from each brand.
Tweed, checks, velvet, polka dots – textures are everywhere. Dresses are going to be a key category, and we saw long, dramatic dresses at Off-White. Gucci felt like it was more 1970s and 1980s style, and we loved Balenciaga’s super-mini versions – designers are adopting all lengths. Outerwear is definitely the key investment for autumn 17. We’ve seen some awesome coats over the past four weeks.
My favourite shows were Calvin Klein in New York, Molly Goddard, Ashish and Halpern in London, Gucci in Milan and Dries Van Noten, Balenciaga and Sacai in Paris.