From Gucci’s carousel-turned-crystal-ball show to fashion’s push for body positivity, we find renewed optimism for the new season ahead.

All the world’s a stage: Gucci AW2020

After a perplexing presentation last season, Gucci opened Milan Fashion Week with another exceptional show. Guests walked through black curtains to find themselves backstage where models were having their hair and makeup done.

The show started with the fall of pink drapes, unveiling a spinning showcase where actual members of the Gucci design team – in grey jumpsuits embroidered with “façonnières de rêves” (“creators of dreams” in French) – dressed models from racks of clothing and arrays of laid-out bags, shoes and other accessories, as hair and makeup artists did final touch-ups.

Once their ensembles were complete, each model stepped out to take her position behind the circular glass panels as the carousel rotated. After they filled the rim of the revolving stage, the merry-go-round came to a halt. As models filed out, each of their dressers (aka the Gucci staff) took their model’s place under the spotlight, and the carousel began its circle again.

Alessandro Michele had ritual on his mind, particularly the passage that precedes a presentation: the multi-tiered stages of designing, creating, staging and viewing. His Fellini-influenced approach to this show turned the usually private domain into a public spectacle. Who knows? Maybe behind-the-scenes theatrics, and turning the spotlight on the team and the processes behind the presentation of a 60-look collection could be the harbinger of shows to come for Spring/Summer 2021, and possibly more seasons into the future.

Trend: Breaking borders

The flapper gets an Autumn/Winter 2020 update with a myriad of ooh-la-la fringes that run the gamut from thin to thick, or little to long. Take another look at the embellishment with designers such Satoshi Kondo of Issey Miyake, who adds a rustic edge to that swinging symbol of glamour.

Trend: Internal affairs

Designers are in the mood for sexy – reimagining lingerie, body-shapers and corsets for a bevy of new-season looks. Fendi brings balance by keeping the ensemble to one colour, while making it interesting with varying degrees of opacity and texture. On the other hand, Chanel gives a minimalist, athleisure-inspired spin to the lace brassiere.

Trend: To the ends of the earth

Mother Nature’s browns and beiges dominate the runways this season. The down-to-earth tones find unanticipated resonance — the neutral palette of fail-safe hues is just the thing we need for warmth and reassurance in this current climate.

Trend: Power puff

There are two ways to interpret this trend on volume. See the apocalyptic mutated forms as a reflection of these strange times, or designers just getting playful with exaggerated proportions via dreamy puff sleeves and ballgowns (hint: safe distancing measures), as well as loose relaxed silhouettes (your sensory cue to chill plus a clever way to hide circuit breaker-induced inches).

Trend: Go figure

Fashion makes a stride towards body diversity and size inclusivity this season, even as plus-size castings took a plunge. Featuring curve models at major fashion houses has always made a strong case for body acceptance on the runways. History was made when Fendi included plus-size models in its show, a first for the Roman fashion house. It was also the only brand to feature curve models in Milan Fashion Week.

After their headline-making accomplishments at Fendi, models Paloma Elsesser and Jill Kortleve crossed over to Paris to repeat their winning streaks individually. Elsesser became Lanvin’s first plus-size model, while Kortleve set another milestone as Chanel’s first plus-size model in a decade since Crystal Renn.

Recently, Dolce & Gabbana announced that it will be extending its sizes for ready-to-wear up to Italian 54 (the campaign features Instagram model Lady Violante), following the move to introduce a plus-size collection for women last year. It is the first luxury fashion house to make this decision, but it’s not a surprise coming from a brand that has always embraced feminine sensuality in all forms on the runways. We can only hope these developments will finally open the doors for a diverse and representative fashion industry soon.

Cool collab: Fendi x Chaos

Futuristic touches punctuate this collection on soft power from the Roman heritage house, thanks to London-based luxury tech accessories brand Chaos. Designed by Charlotte Stockdale and Katie Lyall, the tech jewellery pieces range from a scribble pen earring (which actually functions on both paper and tablets), smart earphones and smart watch keychains to leather straps, zipper lanyards and chain-link bracelets bedecked with alphabet charms, gilded lighters and even a discreet shot glass set. Models also carried smartphone pouches in luxurious woven gold mesh.

Cool collab: Coach 1941 x Basquiat

For his 1980s-oriented collection, creative director Stuart Vevers found inspiration in Jean- Michel Basquiat, translating a selection of the late African-American painter’s works into prints. He even went beyond the professional collaboration into the realm of the personal, and invited the artist’s sisters and stepmother to the show, while Basquiat’s niece Jessica Kelly was one of the models.

Cool collab: Loewe x Takuro Kuwata

After awarding special mention to Takuro Kuwata at the 2018 Loewe Foundation Craft Prize, creative director Jonathan Anderson tapped the Japanese ceramist, known as a radical potter, for the phenomenal ceramic accoutrements incorporated onto the dresses in this collection. The statement pieces also hang on necklaces and flamenco clutches.

Cool collab: Gucci x Liberty

The Florentine house found a new creative partner in Liberty this season. Creative director Alessandro Michele mined little-used designs from the historic English fabric designer’s archives to convey the sense of a memory from the past brought into the present, which aligned with his design leitmotif. In the exclusive collaboration, the mostly floral prints grace diverse product categories for both men and women, spanning ready-to-wear to accessories such as the Gucci 1955 Horsebit handbag featuring “Gucci Liberty” in Art Nouveau-style script, to a new restyled traditional boat shoe model, and silk twill scarves.

This article was first published on Prestige Online Singapore.

Jacquie Ang