Dawn of a new decade: the key style trends to follow for 2020
New season overview
Neons, thigh-grazing blazers, polka dots, midi lengths, pussy-bow frills, shorts and tropical prints - our Fashion Editor gets the inside track on the key style trends for 2020.
When it comes to buying into new-season trends, Shelly Corkery (pictured below wearing Prada) has an expert eye which has been honed over years attending all the top designer shows in New York, Paris, Milan and London. The secret to the edit is knowing what will work for her Irish and her international customers at Brown Thomas - and how adventurous they want to be.
Shelly describes spring/summer 2020 as "a romantic season that merges tropical themes and minimal tones with a nostalgic flashback to the 1970s and 1980s". The newness comes through in colour and fabric throughout the collections, with a special respect for the artisanal, heritage aspects of the handiwork. Shelly namechecks the Irish linen and lace showcased at Alexander McQueen (pictured second from far right) and recycled taffeta at Dries Van Noten, who did a collaboration with Christian Lacroix in which sustainability was a key focus.
Watching the international catwalk trends has relevance because it's the top-end designers who ultimately influence the looks that filter down to the high street.
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Shelly reports how crochet and raffia have found a modern-day groove on both the accessories and ready-to-wear fronts, and fringing - another iconic throwback to the 1970s - is beautifully interpreted by Givenchy and Loewe.
"Shorts take hold as the shape of the season and are tailored, thigh-grazing or relaxed - they are all having a moment," says Shelly. There are longer suiting lengths, leather ones at Bottega Veneta and utility-style short shorts at Dolce, Khaite, Valentino and Isabel Marant.
"This season, designers are embracing a 'getaway' spirit with holiday ready-to-wear clothes that evoke an escapist mindset," she tells me.
There were vibrant hues at Versace, which reprised the slash-front green chiffon number J-Lo famously wore to the 42nd Grammys back in 2000. BTs will have a more covered-up 2020 version which comes with sleeves, and the luxury purchase sells for €5,500.
Valentino and Dolce & Gabbana both delivered vibrant hues (pictured on page 17, with neon-pink short dress and jungle-print strapless gown). However, if 'highlighter' neons and tropical prints are not your thing, minimal tones were evident at Loewe and Jil Sander, and at two exciting new brands in store this season, namely Mugler - which was at the forefront of the head-to-toe 'white-out' trend - and the polished New York brand Khaite. The latter is from designer Catherine Holstein, who reimagines classic American sportswear for the 21st century, and the brand hit the headlines when Katie Holmes wore its cashmere bralette and cardi.
Shelly throws bouquets in the direction of Irish designer JW Anderson from Magherafelt and his work as creative director of the Spanish luxury brand Loewe (pictured far right, with black dress). "I thought the Loewe collection was particularly beautiful, definitely one of JW's best shows ever."
Bottega Veneta is undoubtedly the brand dominating the accessories front this season, from its signature knotted Intrecciato leather pouches and slung-across-the-body totes, to the distinctive square-toed shoes and mules. Shelly was on the 'frow' at Bottega Veneta's Via Senato show during Milan Fashion Week and raves about how creative director Daniel Lee worked the house's proprietary woven leather into highly desirable styles.
"Since his arrival as creative director at Bottega Veneta, Daniel Lee's reinvention of the brand has cemented his status as the darling of fashion," says Shelly. The quilted leather styles come in a myriad of colours, and Shelly states confidently that they are "the hottest shoe brand" of SS20.
Curated for the modern woman, 'effortless' dressing continues into spring/summer 2020. "Clean lines and a feminine sensibility are propelled into the future in this trend," says Shelly. "A minimal aesthetic was seen throughout the collections, where subtle texture and linear patterns emerged at Loewe, The Row and also at Mugler (pictured below).
This is a very attractive trend because of its gentle palette of barely-there nude tones, which are paired with fluid silk blouses and dresses. Shelly says these were best showcased at Bottega Veneta, Jil Sander and Mugler.
The latter is attracting a lot of attention with a new designer at the helm, Casey Cadwallader. You can see his skills coming through from his time studying architecture at Cornell University, and the striking aspect of Mugler's SS20 collection is the excellent tailoring.
What to watch out for? Bermuda shorts or short shorts worn with a suiting vibe. Lots of tailoring and oversized jackets. Mugler did a particularly good take on all of those oversized jackets, such as the one pictured right.
Inspired by exotic destinations, jungle hues and tropical tones are at the centre of the Paradise Island theme.
Oversized silhouettes in uplifting, happy colours were seen across the collections. Striking prints run from birds of paradise with tigers and elephants at Dolce & Gabbana to neon 'highlighter' brights at Valentino and Amazonian greens at Versace, which reprised its slash-front dress made famous by J-Lo a decade ago. "This trend is where you will see crafty elements," says Shelly, "and raffia and lace add rich texture to the high-summer trend - whether it's the French countrywide at Dior or the Sicilian jungle at Dolce & Gabbana."
Remember those infamous power shoulders, the signature look of the quivering-lipped Sue Ellen in Dallas? Well, four decades later, strong shoulders have made a seismic comeback and, along with vibrant pastels and macro prints, they're one of the three key elements of the 1980s trend. All three were delivered by Balenciaga (pictured below), which, like Versace, tapered the look with nipped-in waists.
London-Irish designer Richard Quinn made heads turn and hearts beat faster with his stunning SS20 show at London Fashion Week last September (below) and Shelly praises it as "an awesome collection with explosive florals".
For many women who wore the 1980s the first time around, it could well have been their least favourite fashion decade to reprise, but, with a fresh eye, it certainly has its moments for 2020.
In terms of highlights, Shelly particularly loved the Balenciaga dress with the print of vintage perfume bottles (pictured above).
Paco Rabanne, a new label at Brown Thomas this season, delivered a supremely colourful collection, and polka dots on their 'heart' dress (pictured above) will be cropping up time and time again this season.
What else to watch out for? Oversized silhouettes, nipped-in waists, awesome prints and bicycle shorts.
An artisanal, crafty element to the season is to be warmly welcomed because it generates a sense of human connection. "That traditional approach to workmanship is hugely important for this theme," says Shelly. "This trend puts a focus on intricate techniques and updated designs with a refreshing and unique character."
Alexander McQueen's three-dimensional lace (pictured above) and Loewe's stripes of black lace and transparency (pictured below) led the way in this trend.
Irish heritage shines bright here and Sarah Burton, creative director at Alexander McQueen, is to be applauded for finding inspiration in something some might have considered mundane, even old-school - namely the humble Irish linen tablecloth. Well, open your eyes and look again because Sarah gave our heritage fabrics a thoroughly modern twist after spending time in Northern Ireland doing her homework.
"Irish heritage was wonderful at Alexander McQueen, where fabric inspired by damask linen tablecloths was woven by Thomas Ferguson in Banbridge. Draped, asymmetric, ivory crocheted dresses and decorative embroidered Irish lace were celebrated. There was a big focus on Irish history and Sarah came to visit all the factories in Northern Ireland. She focused on Irish linen and lace, and all those mille-feuille layers of chiffon. It was so beautiful, and her catwalk looks of chopped-waist couture jackets with layers of lace and chiffon underneath were magnificent," says Shelly.
Shelly says the design team shared the backstory of the Irish linen and crocheted lace with her as she was buying from the collection after the Paris Fashion Week catwalk show in October.
"They laid out all the linen in fields at night time, so they could watch the process of it being bleached in the fields, watching the colour change from day to night, dusk to dawn."
What to watch out for in this trend? Transparency is huge, as are midi lengths and square necklines.
This season throws up many mini trends and, on the handbag front, expect to be carrying the 'micro' bag - either hand-held or cross-body. The bucket bag will have its moment along with natural-straw baskets, padded and quilted shapes, elongated clutches, woven leathers and soft-volume supersized clutches.
Romantic femininity is achieved with weightless frills and ruffles executed in diverse fabrics, from fine cottons to sheer organza. Right: Gucci lilac pleated blouse, €1,980
METALLICS TO THE MAX
All-over metallic hues for glamorous partywear and day-to-night dressing are still the gold standard of style and deliver a futuristic sheen, says Shelly.
Above: Celine metallic culotte jumpsuit, €3,250
This season is marked out by the attention to seductive sweetheart necklines. Think off-the-shoulder, revealing, slashed-front or square-necked. For inspiration on how to do it, you only have to look at Versace, Miu Miu and Mugler, whose black jacket (pictured above) is €1,690
White trainers have taken over from the chunky 'Dad' trend, so this simple aesthetic means no need for loads of colourful stripes. Above: Valentino white perforated-V trainers, €520.
Black heels are also back and come in kitten heel, block and sculptural.
AND THE ACCESSORIES BRAND OF SS20 IS...
The award goes to Bottega Veneta. Daniel Lee's reinvention of the Italian brand has cemented his status as the darling of fashion. Above: 'Jodie' medium knotted Intrecciato leather tote in orange, €2,600; below, 'Lido' mules in nude leather, €990