All the usual suspects were sitting front row and centered for New York Fashion Week, plotting their SS14 essentials before we’ve even seen winter! Of the more than 300 collections shown during New York Fashion Week, Altuzarra was one of the most anticipated of the season. This season effortless shirt and skirt combinations refreshed the idea of the practical inspiring high fashion. Thigh-high slits in three-quarter-length skirts added interest for day in banker's blue cotton while metallic threads were introduced for after dark appeal. As a follow on from FW13’s big refresh, Calvin Klein kept things simple with Francisco Costa celebrating his tenth anniversary at the helm. True to the house's roots, minimalism has long been the designer's signature, but this season things felt a little different, Costa himself describing the collection himself as ‘elevated deconstruction’. The introduction of colour was the first difference, from white skirts that flashed pink, to red, mint, and brilliant emerald green-with exposed seams and rough-cut hems, this was a step outside the box for Costa, and we like it!
As one of the highest profile fashion events in the world and one of the ‘big four’ international catwalk influencers, London Fashion Week is always hotly anticipated as the most cutting edge of the four and this season was no exception. Burberry Prorsum as ever, did not disappoint, with Christopher Bailey creating perfectly proportioned yet voluminous, soft-shouldered outerwear and pairing simple cashmere knits with lace pencil skirts for a look that felt if anything a little retro. Christopher Kane derived inspiration from the process of photosynthesis and plant reproduction, the staging of his show—acres of mirrors—created a cloning effect as the models walked, which offered a nod the same theme as did the cut-outs and embellishments on the clothes themselves. Pink also featured like at Prorsum, yet nudes, black and white played as backdrops this time to mint greens and foil detailing making Kane’s collection of the most visually engrossing of the season.
In Milan, Armani, Versace and other long-standing fashion houses have long dominated fashion week, but this season there were rumblings of a new generation of designers, set to raise the bar in the style stakes! Change was afoot in the Italian fashion capital for SS14, with an injection of youthful vigor. The high glamour of Versace, Roberto Cavalli and Dolce & Gabbana managed to mix with the kook of Prada and Marni and the feminine minimalism of Armani for a show season that was truly show stopping. Fausto Puglisi was one of the designers leading the rumblings of a new generation, "It's Carolina Herrera meets Axl Rose" Puglisi described backstage at his first full runway show. Hand-made black leather harness bras, saddle maker’s straps and buckles appeared on short, feminine A-line skirts, to add a touch of bad girl appeal. It wouldn’t be Milan Fashion week without mentioning Dolce & Gabbana and their signature for contrasting the hard with the soft. Inspired by all things Sicilian, they used old photographs of ruined amphitheaters as prints, while Ionic columns reproduced as heels added a touch of humour. Armani drew on his expertise with tailoring in blazer and city short form for a tightly edited offering.
With Miranda Kerr walking for Stella McCartney and Kanye and Kim in the front row, Paris Fashion Week might be last but it most certainly wasn’t least in either the celebrity spotting or style stakes for SS14! Phoebe Philo again demonstrated how phenomenally good she is at bringing us what we want before we even know it. So long, minimalism- instead enter black chevrons and stroke prints hand-painted onto shawl collared belted coats and primary coloured tunic dresses for a graphic appeal. Softening the boyish toughness she has introduced at the house yet not completely eliminating it Clare Waight Keller the Creative Director of Chloé defined the muse of her new collection for the Parisian based brand as representing a ‘girl more sensual than before.’ Matte georgette; patchwork jacquard; light quilting and rough geometric lace all added toughness as did the more angular silhouettes. With a palette of Kaki’s and neutrals this was one of the most wearable collections to date. When it comes to wearable, Isabel Marant has single-handedly provided the perfect ‘off-duty’ wardrobe for several consecutive seasons in succession. Signature strong-shouldered, black blazers were still evident but the collection's lasting impression was of a baby pink ruched and ruffled jacket paired back to white eyelet embellished jeans. Sweet, but with a serious bite—the perfect way to sum up the modern Marant woman!
Amy Sessions is a Deputy Style Editor at a heavy-weight online fashion retailer.