What a month it’s been! Here’s our report on the thrills, FROWs, trends and, er, baby dragons that brought fashion month to a close in Milan and Paris.
Call it the Instagram effect. Designers have always chosen catwalk venues that reflect the theme of their collection, but with every runway show splashed across everyone’s social feeds in real time, the sets are getting bigger, more immersive and more theatrical.
Gucci’s show was staged in a suite of creepy pastel operating theatres, Prada’s on a wet-look, neon-lit runway, while the models at Chanel crunched through the leaves in a tree-lined autumnal landscape.
The 1980s called – they want their shoulder pads back
The biggest trend from New York and London gathered even more pace in Milan and Paris.
Versace led the charge with strong-shouldered trench coats, tartan a-plenty and flashy gold buckled belts, but there were opulent embroidered velour sweatsuits at Dolce and Gabbana, and Dynasty-style evening wear from Roberto Cavalli.
There was even a sighting of – *gasp* – stonewash denim and slouchy boots, at Alberta Ferretti, while we swooned for Clare Waight Keller’s party dresses, pixie boots, pencil skirts and faux fur coats at Givenchy.
Makeup artist Val Garland layered iridescent pastel glitter over some of the models’ faces for a striking – and surprisingly pretty – effect, at Giambattista Valli.
Also: we thought top knots were over. We were wrong (see: Chanel).
The seventies were a recurring theme on the catwalks in Europe, and most designers sought to capture the decade’s laid back vibe by deploying camel and brown shades.
Chloe’s Natacha Ramsay-Levi worked floaty dresses with plunging necklines, killer flares and ribbed knits in shades of chocolate and tan.
Tod’s camel, mustard and rust shades had Love Story written all over them, while Salvatore Ferragamo’s sweeping beige shirtdress brought all the drama.
The other key colour was – unexpectedly for autumn – yellow. We saw lots of saffron wafting on the flow-y clothes at Jacquemus’ souk-inspired presentation, and a squeeze of lemon at the Balmain, Lanvin, and Louis Vuitton shows.
However, the most spectacular take was the sunshine yellow outfit we saw layered from top to toe at Rochas.
Not all of the shows were steeped in nostalgia for the 70s and 80s. At Jil Sander, Lucie and Luke Meiers sought to create a streamlined, tonal look for the years ahead but in a softer, more comforting way.
This translated to textured knits, cocoon coats – and duvets that the models carried or wore cinched around their waists.
And at Louis Vuitton, Nicholas Ghesquiere constructed a Star Wars-style platform for his models, who wore a mash-up of spacesuit-inspired dresses and tops and ladylike tailoring.
Designers also toyed with futuristic plastic fabrics, like John Galliano’s clear plastic sou’wester hats at Maison Martin Margiela and the leave-nothing-to-the-imagination transparent plastic trousers at Balmain.
The most wacky time-travelling collection came from Jeremy Scott, with his conspiracy theory of a show at Moschino.
Positing that Jackie Kennedy was actually a pastel-skinned alien, the show included plenty of prim 1960s skirt suits and pillbox hats, but the silver outfits also referenced a retro preoccupation with sci-fi and the future.
Watch this face
We were thrilled to see one of the breakthrough catwalk stars of 2017, Halima Aden, own the runway at Max Mara.
Born in a Kenyan refugee camp but raised in America, the hijab-wearing model (and former semi-finalist for the title of Miss Minnesota) also made an appearance on the joyfully diverse runways at Missoni.
The most buzzed-about collection from the second half of fashion month came from Alessandro Michele, the provocateur designer at Gucci.
The show took his usual scattergun approach to styling, mixing 20s showgirl sequins, head-scarved tweed suits, balaclavas and logo-ed separates, but the real talking point were the models that carried a lookalike severed head under their arm, or else a snake or a baby dragon. It was next-level weird. And we loved it.
By contrast, Dolce & Gabbana’s collection was a gilded, hugely ornamental affair called “Fashion Devotion” and inspired by the designers’ Catholic upbringing.
The religious motifs made for a sumptuous affair, but not all of the touches felt medieval: the show kicked off with eight buzzing drones offering new-season bags for communion.
And sound the cuteness klaxon: Gigi Hadid opened the show at Tod’s carrying a French bulldog who just happened to match the collection’s camel shearling pieces.
The showgoers in Italy and Paris donned the trench coats and slouchy tailoring that we saw in London and New York, but a couple of other micro-trends emerged from the FROWers.
Slick, glossy patent clothes and accessories added an edge to our favourite street style looks (and thankfully they’re serving up plenty of this for us to copy at Topshop and ASOS).
The other big style hits? Fuzzy textured coats and jumpers (a trend that we’re seeing on the runways for next autumn, too) and sweeping romantic maxi skirts.
Strong but feminine
Most designers grappled with the dilemma of how to portray womanhood in the #metoo and Time’s up era.
But we loved Miuccia Prada’s double-barrelled homage to a woman’s strength and femininity; she played on this duality by throwing rugged hi-vis jackets over tulle skirts and strapping bustiers over floaty tops.
The accessories you’ll be sporting all winter
We’re totally on board with this accessories trend: the enormous tote. Marni, Fendi and Prada all debuted fabulously roomy bags – chic, squashy and capacious enough for that kitchen sink that might come in handy.
While Dolce and Gabbana impressed onlookers by sending their padded bags down the runway carried by drones.
Hats, too, were a fundamental and sometimes wacky motif on the catwalks in Milan and Paris, from bucket hats at Prada, to fedoras at Alberta Ferretti, to jaunty tartan berets at Versace, along with a furry version at Giorgio Armani.
Photos Vogue Runway