am beginning to understand the difference between good clothes and fashion clothes. Of course, “good” is spectacularly subjective and amorphous, but the important thing is the difference. Until recently, I assumed that if clothes aren’t fashion, and they’re not anti-fashion (which now, in itself, makes them fashion), they’re just normal and lukewarm, invisible in a way that’s not deliberate.
But that’s not right. On the one hand, you have the clunky sneakers and neon windbreakers and feather hems and the “total looks” reflected in street style as interpreted from runways, which are delightful and entertaining and even joyful. But their shelf life is short, and as our priorities shift away from consuming and toward feeling good about our carbon footprint, that doesn’t quite line up. On the other hand, there’s the normal stuff — plain pants, not fit any particular way, coats that keep you warm, scarves that are there for only a functional purpose, and boots that are flat and boring but, hey, will get you where you need to go.
But if we think of these two existing camps — fashion clothes and normal clothes — as a Venn diagram, there’s a crucial overlap. I haven’t given it a name yet, so I’m just going to call it “good.” And while the contents of this overlap can shift and redefine itself, the best way I can describe it is souped-up normal clothes. Garments in sturdy, luxurious fabrics that take into consideration details almost invisible to an untrained eye, and that don’t only make sense on a model on a runway, but promise a more enduring escape, or sweet release, just more realistically.
Clare Waight Keller nailed this in several places at Givenchy with her rounded, strong shoulders on overcoats as paired with comfortable enough wedges to lift you up to tippy-toe level. But it’s the evening wear, really, that seemed to say: Dance the damn night away in these sparkles on lightweight taffeta — you owe it to yourself to feel like yourself, but better, and dare I say, more comfortable? That was Sunday night.
On Monday morning, Stella McCartney showed some great knits and outerwear — I was particularly drawn to the accoutrements fecklessly styled over the greats. One knit in particular maintained a hybrid dickie-thing. I’m sensing a new trend of accessorizing your coats and knits with pseudo-dickies and puffer accessories. This was underlined at Sacai, which had some of the best winter styling I’ve seen this season — it’s packaged layering to make your coat more interesting but to that point: nothing so much as a fish tail hem on a swing jacket thrills me and no one does so well as Sacai’s Chitose Abe.
Is it a coincidence that all three of these designers that meet at the overlap on my Venn diagram are women? Probably not.
In trend land on Tuesday, Miu Miu and Louis Vuitton closed out the Paris season. There was a lot of camouflage at the former with clunky boots and exaggerated capes in navy and plaid, evincing a similar spirit to that which Miuccia Prada showed in Milan for Prada. There’s a certain gravity on her mind, that much is clear, but the bright holes of innocence and a youthful mind starved for more and ready to seize opportunity can’t help but poke through, here in sheer organza dresses with puckered sleeves. And I couldn’t help notice how these models held their bags— on the inside of their forearms, between wrist and elbow. It reminded me of getting my first handbag, and toting it through the early 2000’s. Do with that as you please.
And finally! Louis Vuitton took us back, then forward, then back again. And forward. Then back! The 80s influence was more palpable than it’s been in previous seasons, but I enjoyed every damn minute of the human art installations that walked through the Louvre among painted pipes in bright primary colors to preview Fall 19.
Several of the most salient trends of the season were crystallized at this show as evidenced by the scarf-style accessories, jackets with drop-shoulder vest sleeves (or maybe a better description is dropped-shoulder vests with jacket sleeves) and if you were a fan of Harling’s investigation into the life and times of cropped knit beanie wearers, I am thrilled to report they come in leather now.
Overall, it has been an enchanting season to the extent that, even through the question marks and have-seens, genuinely new ideas for how to dress are bubbling to the surface. They’re not exactly fleshed out, which makes this iterative process all the more fascinating to observe, and they’re not reinventions of the wheel either. My hunch is that a lot of these ideas have been lingering in our closets all along, we just haven’t been able to see.
Anyway, that’s a wrap.
Feature photos by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images; Runway photos via Vogue Runway.