1. Stella McCartney (above)
Dislike redundancy? Well, get ready to hear the words “minimal,” “daywear,” and “polished” thrown around quite a bit for fall ’10. Not that we’re complaining. As she tends to do, Stella, of course, worked the trend exquisitely. The palette was comprised of a sparse selection of grey, nude, and black highlighted by unexpected flashes of fuschia or chartreuse– found in bold satin dresses. Down to the pointed nude heels, and up to the perfectly cut jackets, coats, vests, and slightly slouchy pants that tapered at the ankle– the collection was all modern business. Until, of course, mini dresses and insanely cool chunky woven sweaters worn sans pants swept the runway and made it clear that the Beatles heir hasn’t forgotten her legion of young leg-bearing fans.
2. Ann Demeulemeester
Ann D., you lure us with your kick-ass boots and keep us ensnared with your achingly covetable suits– with their perfect drape and mismatched button detail that seems to scream, “I’m cooler than you.” Black leather, red patent, feather detail, and tops and necklaces woven from whips are some extreme ideas to play with, and they work best when tempered by a pairing with easy, slouchy trousers. A little over-the-top never hurt anyone though, and we can’t wait to meet the girl who can pull off wearing it all at once.
3. Alexander McQueen
As if reminding us of why we’re so sad to have lost him, McQueen’s last collection was a consummate example of the late designer’s unerring genius. With a return to well-tread McQueen themes of old-world elaborate detail, melded with cutting edge design technology and workmanship, it’s difficult to imagine anyone who could have done it better. McQueen signatures of skulls, angels, and wings were on display in the extravagant collection that focused on gilded accents, titian red, deep black, and skillful draping. A poignant moment in Paris, indeed.
It’s a testament to the singular talent that is Pheobe Philo that her sophomore effort for Celine is garnering oh so much buzz. The testament lies in the fact that her collection for the storied French house wasn’t filled with bells and whistles, but instead minimal, polished daywear. Those words again– don’t say we didn’t warn you. Philo works her magic on coats in the way of trenches, cropped furs, funnel necks, parkas, and peas. Easy shifts, tailored trousers, a few gowns for good measure, and simply stunning leather pieces rounded out the restrained collection in mostly navy, black, and cream. The only way to do classic luxury well is to elevate well-worn themes– mission accomplished.
5. Dries Van Noten
The reigning king of prints didn’t give his calling card a bit of a rest this season– bestowing a veritable buffet of subtle patterns and that perpetually trendy cat– leopard– on easy breezy dresses, pants, vests, jackets, and gowns. What we saw was a completely wearable collection with the coolest kid in class (or more likely, the office) in mind. Army green, grey, and navy were on-hand to balance some of the slightly bolder statement pieces, or to simply stand on their own as simple statements. Overall, each look is a strong contender for the inspiration folder on our desktops.
The ” Terrible” was at it again, showing tons of leather at the leather house that is Herms. Gaultier cited a British influence this season, in the 60s show The Avengers. And if you’re going to be fighting crime, it might as well be in head-to-toe hides, beginning with a bowler hat straight out of a Renee Magritte painting. Beautifully tailored coats made the cut, as did intricately tailored, menswear-inspired leather suits, a touch of fur, and a stunning black leather gown– perfect for the First Lady of France herself.
7. Miu Miu
Prada’s little sis was a delightful mix of 60s shifts, A-line coats, bow-adorned necks, and crystal flower-power detail. Don’t think Miuccia’s girl was all innocence though– cut-outs at the stomach, some plunging square necklines, and peek-a-boo, thigh-grazing skirts turned Twiggy’s early 60s on its head a bit. And save for some bits of orange, lavender, and cream here and there, the mostly black pieces added a welcome sophistication to recognizable silhouettes. Oh, but don’t forget those shoes– as if we ever would. Square toe, silver bow and flower adorned pumps will have girls lining up for their edgy, yet whimsical fix.
8. Isabel Marant
If Miuccia was rifting on the early 60s, then Isabel Marant was a rebel without a cause whose inspiration lay firmly in the 1950s. Perhaps, it’s a recapturing of a pre-Vietnam, post-WW2 innocence– or maybe the designer with a crazy cool factor just wanted to play around with some pedal pushers, polka dots, rugby sweaters, and varsity jackets. Signature it-boots have been replaced by pointed flats with bow details, but Marant’s edge hasn’t vanished. Red leather, silver lam, gold sequins, biker vests, and minis were the medium of choice for her mid-century reinterpretation. As faithful followers, we approve.
9. Pedro Loureno
The fashion set is quick to point out 19-year-old Pedro Loureno’s already impressive style pedigree. An endorsement by a high-powered stylist? Check– Brana Wolf. Representation by the most influential PR firm in the business? Check– KCD. What is this kid, the love child of Marc and Karl? No actually, his parents are lauded figures in the world of Sao Paolo fashion. Nevertheless, his futuristic, directional collection stood on its own as a mature, clever first time out. The Central Saint Martins grad worked mainly in leather and plastic and played with geometry and color blocking in a way that will keep fashion’s collective eyes set on him for seasons to come.
10. Maison Martin Margiela
Now that the cat’s out of the bag that Margiela’s J.D. Salinger-esque namesake designer has left the building, we can get back to the business of looking at the clothes for fashion’s sake– and not to guess their progenitor. The man himself may not be there, but his distinctly avant-garde-meets-minimal approach to design certainly was. The intellectual looks ranged from latex skirts to chiffon overlays and well-tailored coats– continuing the tradition of killer pieces that the fashion house is synonymous with.
Oh Lanvin– even the name is pretty. Although, Elbaz’s pretty girl has become quite the urban warrior for fall ’10. Less about ruffles, pretty prints, and colors– the house of Lanvin has turned to a more architectural landscape in the muted nearly non-colors of the season– gray, taupe, black, metallics, and perhaps a hint of purple (but don’t expect it to be vibrant). It’s a strong take on femininity– embellishments are studded or fiercely nature-inspired, and jackets made of feathers or fur call to mind protective sheaths rather than mindless, lovely toppers. Although Africa was named as an inspiration, perhaps fall was more of a French lesson on how to look chic for the apocalypse?
12. Gareth Pugh
This Rick Owens protge has been so intent on telling stories of futuristic samurais or well-coutured aliens in past seasons, that maybe some haven’t noticed his clothes have become insanely wearable. In conservative color options of black, grey, or army green– chevron stripes became an ongoing discourse, as did an intriguing exploration of mixed media fabrics. Chiffon melded with leather was just one of the ways Pugh showcased his ability to maintain his avant-garde inclinations, while softening enough to let his girls live comfortably in his world.