Monday 24 October 2016

More is beautiful - a fashion season full of extremes and contradictions

Constance Harris

Published 08/02/2016 | 02:30

Suede tank top, €1,400; suede culottes, €1,685, both Victoria Beckham; leather mules, €475, Gucci.
Suede tank top, €1,400; suede culottes, €1,685, both Victoria Beckham; leather mules, €475, Gucci.

Fashion for 2016 is such a mix of eras and fashion ideologies that one would think that it would be hard to put a foot wrong. But, as ever, the latest designer collections come with subtle innovations that mark them as being all about today and all about new thinking.

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So while the '70s, '80s, '90s, punk, androgyny, romanticism, volume and architectural design may appear to be with us as fashion options to wear this spring and summer, to follow their former rules would be a mistake.

I spoke to Shelly Corkery, fashion director of Brown Thomas, to find out what she felt this season was all about.

"It's a season full of extremes and contradictions," Shelly tells me. "You have maximalism and minimalism. You have masculine and feminine looks. Simplicity and complexity; the romantic heroine . . . but punk is still there, too. The longer length is really key, but shorter hasn't gone away. Victorian is a big look, but so too are modernism and sportswear."

But, according to Shelly, there are definitely several key trends this season. Eccentric Maximalism is a look consisting, often, of clashing prints and shapes, to create a strongly individual, often voluminous, look. Gucci, under new creative director Alessandro Michele, has thrown out the sharp, 70s-influenced sexuality it became known for under Frida Giannini, and is a key player in this new maximalism trend. As are Dries Van Noten, Erdem and Prada, to a degree.

"I am a minimalist at heart, but I love the maximalism this season. It makes us think outside of the box," Shelly says. "I loved Gucci's collection, with its retro feel and 'more is more'. They have done it beautifully, in a sophisticated, elegant way; not too young. It's colourful and directional. We have needed that. We have seen so much minimalism - people want things to be more interesting and for things to move on."

Victoriana is a romantic trend consisting of lots of lace and ruffles. Erdem and McQueen did it beautifully, but in such a way as to be grown-up and sophisticated. It lends itself nicely, too, to the trend of New Romanticism, which includes underwear, such as lace slips, being worn as outerwear. Celine teamed super-fine slip dresses with big coats.

There is a sensuality to this season, too. Shoulders are the new erogenous zone. Fabrics are often floaty, printed delicately and feminine. Accessories are huge, especially oversized jewellery and richly embellished shoes.

"I think the mantra of 'more is more' is even stronger than it was last year," Shelly says. "Overall, it is a very feminine season, being about the woman, about the lady, about her body. I think, with this New Romanticism coming through, while it is very feminine and light, there is a message in there, too, for the independent, strong woman who knows what she wants." Always key.

Photography by  Andreas Petterson

Styling by  Darren Feeney

Fashion edited by  Constance Harris

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