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Just as spring is finally starting to seem like it’s right around the corner, designers from New York, London, Milan, and Paris have given us a reason to actually look forward to fall. Throughout the past four weeks, we’ve seen slick outerwear, updated knits, and inspiring layered looks—but on the whole, much of what was sent down the runways had the sense of being seasonless, with sandals, bare shoulders, and airy fabrics mixed in among the cold-weather fare. And while there is probably lots to unpack about how this relates to the buy-now-wear-now debate making its way around the industry, for shoppers, it means there’s plenty of inspiration you can take from next season’s trends and put to use right this very moment.
While vestiges of the ’70s influence that’s dominated the past few seasons stuck around in the form of pussy-bow blouses, bohemian ruffles, and patchwork furs, the ’80s also crept into collections, especially in Paris, where Hedi Slimane paid tribute to the decade at Saint Laurent with a whole couture collection of one-shouldered minidresses and Madonna-worthy bombers, and the Kenzo’s Carol Lim and Humberto Leon showed puffed sleeves, Lurex jumpsuits, and neon tiger stripes.
Read on for our guide to 12 trends that swept the season’s shows:
Glitter was the name of the game this season, and many designers channeled their magpie instincts into metallic knits. There were options for evening, like the floor-length gowns at Vionnet, and many for day, too, like the matching skirt-and-sweater sets at Jil Sander and Balenciaga.
Plaid is a recurring theme on trends lists for the cooler months, but we especially enjoyed its versatility and wearability this time around. At Calvin Klein, Francisco Costa showed checks of varying shades and scales, giving looks some added dimension without going over the top. Suno’s take was similarly soft and collegiate, while Barbara Bui went full-tilt into the ’80s, but with silhouettes that were more than workable for right now.
While extra-long bell sleeves have become a favorite silhouette among street-style stars (hat tip, Ellery), designers introduced us to a whole new range of volumes and styles this time around. Whether puffed from shoulder to elbow or ballooning around the forearm, the look has an arty, old-world vibe that we’re excited to see trickle down to stores in the coming months.
The off-the-shoulder trend is still going strong a few seasons in, and for fall, designers shrugged off the idea that cold weather has to mean covering up. There were necklines that bared vast swaths of clavicle, dresses with cutouts that exposed shoulders, and one-shouldered jackets and sweaters that thumbed their nose at practicality.
Last year’s patent-leather trend got even glossier for Fall ’16, with PVC popping up in show after show. While the plasticky pant is usually seen in tight, body-skimming silhouettes, Carven and Isabel Marant proved that slightly baggier styles may get their time to shine next season.
Cascading ruffles lent a romantic vibe to many collections, notably Balmain, where they poured down the sides of pastel jumpsuits and suede sleeves, and Chloe, where they swam around models’ bodies on boho dresses and girlish blouses. Finally, at Gucci, one scarlet red ruffled cape stood out even among a collection full of showstoppers.
One concession designers did make to the season was layering turtlenecks and long-sleeve tops under sleeveless dresses and crop tops. The jumper trend was a natural extension, showing up in two-piece leather at 3.1 Phillip Lim and an ankle-skimming overall dress at the newly Alber Elbaz–less Lanvin.
So prevalent was this trend that the list of designers that didn’t send out at least one look with a pussy bow, ascot, or ribbon tied at the neck might be shorter than that of those who did—for which we’re placing some of the blame on Alessandro Michele, whose debut collection for Gucci last year gave the once-fussy blouses a new lease on life. Depending on your taste, you’ll find bows of all sizes and prints among fall’s offerings, from soft ’70s styles to exaggerated modern renditions.
Dozens of designers played with plush fabrics for fall, rendering them into business suits for the hip working girl, outerwear for the in-the-know fashion crowd, and party dresses for the Hollywood star on the rise. (And hopefully for the rest of us, too, since that Monse dress looked stellar on Brie Larson.)
The ascendence of the lowly puffer should come as no surprise considering fashion’s current obsession with all things streetwear. Of course, that doesn’t mean designers fully embraced the garment’s practical applications. At Balenciaga, Demna Gvasalia proposed ski jackets styled off the shoulder atop glitzy sweaters, while Sarah Burton’s take for Alexander McQueen was more elegant, marabou-trimmed duvet than winter-appropriate outerwear. Regardless, the many versions of the coat shown throughout the shows—richly hued velvet at Stella McCartney, creatively cut quilting at Acne Studios, high-shine cocoon silhouettes at DKNY—are a good indication that we’ll be seeing the Midwest staple in a whole new light come September.
While there were numerous color combos that popped up again and again throughout the month (teal and bright red, yellow and dusty pink), we’re pulling for the underdog. Purple and orange are much maligned as a potentially garish duo, but designers in all four cities put forth strong arguments for us all to reconsider. At Emilio Pucci and Prada, for instance, lavender and tangerine hues energized artistic landscape prints, while Jacquemus paired orange thigh-high boots with a punchy purple turtleneck.
This season’s power suit packed tons of personality, whether mixed and matched in maximalist prints or worn double-breasted and mannish in head-to-toe suede. Either way, the tie stayed put, opening up a realm of accessorizing that many of us (well, myself at least) haven’t revisited since school uniform days.