Style

Here are the standout trends from the Fall/Winter 2020 fashion shows

Full fringe, cut-outs, novel neck-styling and even repurposed fabric have made it to the runways.

Full fringe, cut-outs, novel neck-styling and even repurposed fabric have made it to the runways

(Credit, left and right: Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images; middle: Estrop/Getty Images)

Amidst coronavirus panic that led to the cancellation of a cocktail reception celebrating the nominees of the 2020 LVMH Prize for Young Designers and that forced Armani to present their runway collection to an empty house, fashion designers still managed an impressive showing of creativity for the Fall/Winter 2020 season. 

The most brilliant exhibition of the collective marathon of runway shows fondly referred to as "Fashion Month" was presented by Marc Jacobs in New York, and featured an electric performance from 1980s avant-garde dancer Karole Armitage. Jacobs displayed his mastery of the form by creating clean, simple silhouettes that were, miraculously, not boring. This season it felt as if many designers, Jacobs included, decided to pare back their offerings and focus on creating practical clothes that people will want to wear.

These days, it seems like everyone is on a mission to reduce their wardrobes, either by buying secondhand or going on a self-imposed shopping ban. As a result, fashion has entered a sober moment where the purpose of clothing is no longer to seek attention or concoct the most outrageous getup; it's about appreciating beautiful, wearable clothing that is meant to last a lifetime. 

Read on to learn more about the five biggest trends to come out of New York, London, Paris and Milan for the F/W 2020 season.

Reduce, reuse, recycle 

The loudest trend to emerge from the Fall 2020 shows is less of a style than it is a political stance. Many designers made a point of using repurposed fabric in order to reduce their reliance on new materials. Fashion is currently grappling with its reputation as a bad actor in the sustainability equation, and makers are searching for pathways to become more sustainable while still remaining economically viable. This season, many designers eschewed the song and dance of posturing in favour of actually reducing their impact. Marine Serre's grunge grandma collection (replete with coronavirus masks) incorporated 50 per cent upcycled clothing. Hillary Taymour of Collina Strada created her cabbage rose-print jackets and tie-dyed velour pieces out of deadstock fabric. Even John Galliano at Margiela, one of the last gasps of fashion's old guard, embraced the path forward with a selection of upcycled pieces he enthusiastically called "Recicla," a play on Martin Margiela's "Replica" collection of vintage pieces. According to Galliano, it's about "being inventive with a conscience." We couldn't agree more.

Fabulous fringe

It's rather fitting that the first runways shows of the 2020s gleaned major inspiration from the raucous, rebellious era now 100 years in the rear view mirror: the Roaring '20s. Slinky Jazz Age styles such as drop waist dresses, ankle-strap shoes and plunging necklines snaked their way onto the runways, but none were more prevalent than fringe. Shown most prominently at Prada, where Miuccia Prada showed the last solo collection of her career (next season she welcomes designer Raf Simons on as co-creative director), fringed skirts reminiscent of hula dancing outfits were shown alongside dangling strands adorning scarves, sweaters, even jaunty epaulets. Fendi's elegant display featured a number of tasseled dresses worthy of Josephine Baker herself, and Jil Sander added a dash of whimsy to the house's typically sober designs with fringe details that tumbled from the neckline like a waterfall to graze the floor. If the last time around was any indication, the twenties are bound to be a wild ride.

Knee-high boots

After a long reign, it appears that ankle boots are finally ready to relinquish their top spot on the footwear podium to a new successor: knee-high boots. The preppy staple was arguably the most ubiquitous trend to come out of fashion month; almost every single show featured some interpretation of the style from Isabel Marant's studded louche bohemian version to Michael Kors' equestrian saddle boots. Lemaire's forever clothes were complemented by sturdy-heeled tall shaft boots and New York darling Sandy Liang put out a grown-up, boot-friendly collection that looked like it could have been pulled straight from the wardrobe of Carolyn Bessette Kennedy. As designers search for less fantastical ways of making clothes that stand out, knee-high boots emerge as a silhouette that is dramatic on its own without any intervention. 

Cut piece

A new erogenous zone emerged for fall 2020 — though designers couldn't quite agree on exactly where it was located. Peek-a-boo garments exposed skin in wholly unexpected places. Proenza Schouler's draped dresses revealed shoulders, clavicles and slivers of stomach, while Dilara Findikoglu's gothic glamour incorporated keyhole cutouts around the chest and thigh. Christopher Kane created a bodice out of a bralette, leaving both sides of a model's rib cage exposed, and sliced and diced classic white shirts to reveal strips of skin. These risqué details are a welcome change from the past few seasons characterized by oversized, don't-touch-me garments. Either way, it's becoming clear that designers are putting more, ahem, skin in the game.

Neck appeal

Earlier this month, Toronto Raptor Serge Ibaka showed up to a game wearing a gigantic blanket scarf that nearly swallowed his almost-7 foot frame. Perhaps designers called on this meme-able moment when styling their collections, as neck covering of all kinds could be found in full force on the fall 2020 runways. Michael Kors tied what appeared to be an entire sweater around a model's neck while Saint Laurent chose knotted, delicate, ribbon-like scarves. Maison Margiela too tied upcycled garments around the neck to create an avant-garde take on the pussy-bow blouse. Whether it be a chunky knit or a silky pashmina, drape anything around your neck this fall and you'll find yourself at the height of style.


Isabel B. Slone has written for T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Playboy, Toronto Life and the Globe and Mail. 

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