From big shoulders to brooches, polo necks to hip bags, see the trends you can take away with ease from the shows.
The autumn/winter 2019 fashion shows gave us fresh new talent, designer debuts and a whole lot of street style – but what of the clothes on the catwalk? We’ve broken down the most dominant and accessible trends to emerge from New York, London, Milan and Paris so that you can take note.
Two strong threads to emerge from the shows fell into very different camps. The first was a return to the grunge aesthetic of the 90s, albeit an elevated version of the subculture that was all about not buying clothes. Versace mined the epoch’s torn knits, plaid tweeds, underwear as outerwear and leopard print coats. Agnona, meanwhile, excelled in taking it luxe, sending models out in long swathes of belted, wrapped and layered cashmere, checked shirts and socks worn with sandals.
Where the trend wasn’t over, it popped up in the form of footwear as seen in myriad other collections, too: Prada, Chloé, Tod’s, Bottega Veneta, The Row and Marni all teamed dresses with tough-talking chunky black boots.
At the other end of the spectrum, the return to 70s splendour was in full swing. In every city, designers adopted bougie codes, from polished pearls, twinsets and tailoring, to blouses, neck scarves and knee-length skirts. At Celine, Burberry, Gucci, Longchamp and Lanvin, it was all about polish and making what we used to call frumpy, the hottest thing in fashion.
Sometimes, it takes four weeks of fashion shows to remind us that some of the best things we own have been relegated to the back of our wardrobes – cue the return of the cardigan. The versatile cover-up was on countless catwalks in every city. At Christopher Kane, Miu Miu and Matty Bovan they came longline, mostly oversized with deep V-necks.
At Chanel, they were more fitted and tucked into lace skirts, while at Molly Goddard, they came with shrunken and homespun appeal. At House of Holland, they were collared and buttoned over matching knitwear beneath (the twinset 2.0?) while there was a return to strobing at Lanvin and Erdem with the top button buttoned. This season, you can wear your favourite cardigan in countless ways.
Big dress energy was a recurring theme from city to city. It started with one of the very first shows of the season, Tomo Koizumi in New York. His millefeuille layers of tulle in sherbet shades took over the airwaves on the night of his show and promptly secured its place one of the most popular outings of the week.
Hot on his heels in London was Molly Goddard, who gave us a new-season version of her now-infamous pink dress (à la Killing Eve). Elsewhere, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, 16Arlington, JW Anderson and Valentino gave us flounce and from in clashing hues of blush, chartreuse and scarlet, but for the most part, designers were in a sunshine state of mind. Mary Katrantzou, Off-White, Roksanda, Marc Jacobs, Fendi and Balenciaga all got the yellow memo, bringing show-stopping dresses in several canary colours.
Aside from the tiny bags that have named their way into fashion headlines, the most practical bag of autumn/winter 2019 is an oversized tote. The way to wear it? Not so practical. It’s an arm-through-the-handles-and-balance-it-on-your-hip situation and what it lacks in nine-to-five practicality it makes up for it looking actually quite chic.
It’s a look that Maison Margiela and Victoria Beckham have adopted over several seasons (does that mean they made “fetch” happen?), but for autumn/winter 19, several other designers followed suit. Dries van Noten, Roberto Cavalli, Lacoste, Off-White and Rejina Pyo all made enviable cases for carrying your bag this way, while Jacquemus went a step further and tied his to the hips of his models. A little like a superluxe bumbag, but bigger and better.
Polo necks shook off any notions of being prim and became a ubiquitous presence on the catwalks spanning practically every epoch. They were given a 70s twist worn under prairie dresses at Alexa Chung and blazers at Celine; made super glam with an 80s twist at Isabel Marant; plaid and textured at Dior; worn with bondage minis at Versace, harking back to the house’s 90s heyday; and were super modern and skintight at Fendi.
Other designers indulged their love of the versatile layer, too. Marco de Vincenzo took him in a disco direction, Hugo Boss decided on neutral elegance and Balenciaga went bold and block-coloured.
It was only a matter of time, really, given fashion’s indomitable penchant for shiny hair accessories, but the return of the brooch is something to be celebrated. Seen at a handful of influential shows, this is one we’re predicting will pick up pace this year. Erdem went ornate, Versace introduced a new emblem, Toga went conceptual, and AWAKE Mode opted to pin a sculptural creation on the lapel of its clothes.
There’s nothing like a quirky subtrend to make us smile, and this season it was fashion that made a racket. It was predominantly in Paris: at Bruno Sialelli’s Lanvin debut, model Selena Forrest sashayed her way around the catwalk wearing click-clacky embellishment. Earlier in the week at Marine Serre, trainers and shoes came with allover keys and shell applique; and at Paco Rabanne, the chain-mail dresses danced about to the percussion they played. This is a trend that’s about being seen and heard.
The trend for leather coats started at the menswear shows in January and showed no sign of letting up in womenswear. In previous lives, they may have had a Matrix-meets-Fight Club sensibility about them, but now it’s all about the elegance. Tom Ford – both in January and in March – along with Max Mara, naturally, had excellent leather coat game, as did Tommy Hilfiger, Roberto Cavalli, Salvatore Ferragamo, Chloé, Ermanno Scervino and Proenza Schouler. The smoother the better – and extra ticks for being tailored.
Caramel, chestnut, chocolate, biscuit: one of next season’s favourite colour palettes looks as delicious as it sounds. A natural progression from last season’s adoption of beige, designers opted for warm and easy-to-wear shades. Victoria Beckham, Loewe, Jil Sander and Margaret Howell led the way into autumn, with their take on toasty shades.
These come hand in hand with big dress energy but became such an explosion of a trend on their own that they deserve their own shoutout. Clare Waight Keller at Givenchy showed how they could be dramatic without being dominant. Michael Halpern’s gathered sunset-orange take was sultry and sensual. Richard Quinn’s circular shoulder grazers, which exemplified his beautiful bloom prints, deserved their own fashion postcode.
Several big-hitters ensued: Demna Gvasalia with his outerwear at Balenciaga; Sarah Burton via tailoring at Alexander McQueen; Anthony Vaccarello's Deneuve-inspired silhouettes at Saint Laurent; Nicolas Ghesquiere’s sculpted leopard print at Louis Vuitton and Giambattista Valli at his eponymous label. This autumn, it’s about being head and shoulders above the rest.