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Who's Next & Pret a Porter

Checks, florals and the little black dress returned for autumn as brands sought to rework popular classics

January’s Paris trade shows are traditionally big trendsetters for the autumn womenswear season. However, with the economy in a state of insecurity, there was little design optimism to be found in the exhibition halls of Porte de Versailles, as brands at Pret a Porter and Who’s Next battled to combine creativity and newness with that much needed commercial streak.

As a result, new trends were thin on the ground, and instead brands focused their efforts on reworking the key pieces and trends which have proven to be cash cows for the past few seasons, taking a gamble on consumers shopping cautiously at least until the end of this year.

With this in mind, checks and florals, the two biggest trends from 2008, still led the way. The success of the checked wool cocoon coat of autumn 08 has migrated to a longer style for autumn 09, a three-quarter length in fruity pomegranate and strawberry shades. Funnel-neck shapes were the most popular outerwear style, and checked versions were easy to spot around the halls.

Florals were more artistic than last season, with ditsy petals replaced by swirled, dotted and abstract blooms, often with watercolour, blurred or smudged effects. Dresses were no longer the solo product option for florals, with A-line and tulip-shaped skirts also popular for petal prints.

The little black dress was just one of the wardrobe staples brought to the fore, as brands hoped to draw in buyers with highly sellable classic pieces. The body-con silhouette was the most common, while detailing veered from gold and feathers to more subtle panelling, slashed necklines and back pleating.

The most dramatic of the trends was gold, realised as studding on leather waistcoats, dresses and panelled skirts, and in lashings of sequins on slouchy Fame-inspired jerseys, shift dresses and cotton smock tops.

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