Admittedly, we are tardy in presenting our bi-annual fashion revue, with the cold weather already at our doors.
What with coronavirus still raging in Europe and other parts of the globe, coupled with the pandemonium of the presidential elections across the pond we hope to be excused.
We can also argue that fashion has taken a backseat to the world’s tragic events, but it was not the case. Fashion does not stop for anything or anyone, anytime.
A mood of gloom may be threatening our joie de vivre, and dressing up is both exciting and joyful. But why dress up with nowhere to go? No galas, balls, events, dinners, parties or even large family gatherings, and with those unsightly masks and distancing, we are unable to greet friends, let alone recognise them.
Fashion designers would hear none of it. We dress for ourselves, not for others.
The show must go on, so to speak, and indeed they did.
All houses of haute couture and “Pret a porter” were ready with their new creations, but with all the restrictions, how could they reach the public? By streaming of course. Technology was again the saviour as it was for the movies, concerts, politics, etc.
Although the fashion industry was hit hard due to the pandemic, it has not stifled creativity. Designers were abuzz with excitement to show their season’s collections. They knew they had to go digital and that is what happened in all the fashion’s capitals, Paris, Milan, London and New York.
Some were creative enough to include a few members of the press and clientele to watch from a distance in idyllic settings, while big screens helped to make up for the distant spacing.
Maison Dior for example, had their few guests on a boat on the Seine whilst models strutted along the shore, delighting all, including people walking by.
Streaming has provided designers more viewers than the 300 celebrities invited in a closed setting, which hopefully would translate into more sales.
Now, what is new in this season’s fashion?
If you like big shoulders, they are making a comeback. This is a flattering style that was predominant in the 1970, showing a strong presence 50 years later.
What is this seemingly deep obsession we have for the 70s? We seem to be bringing back some of its main features over and over. Surely you have such an item in the back of your closet, discarded as unfashionable. Air it out and wear it proudly at no expense. Strong shoulders were popular at Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, and Rick Owen.
How do you feel about leather? If it is “your thing”, you are in luck. Leather is big this season, in biker jackets, pants, coats and skirts. Even some evening wear has been seen shown in sumptuous leather. Remember you have to be in top form, as leather reveals every bulge.
Maxi coats are definitely in order. Extra-long ones were shown at Valentino and Maison Marquela. Hoods and Snoods are big, so are custom-made masks more flattering, less ape-like, shown at Michael Kors and Paco Rabanne.
A panoply of winter fashion trends are as eclectic as they are versatile, easily adapted to your personality. Do make sure you pick only what suits you. If extreme fringing, displayed at Dior, Jill Sander and Prada is not for you, do not give it a second look, but you will see long, fine fringing this season.
One main concern is always colour — and the colour of the season is blue. Did that surprise you? We have not seen blue in a long time.
It is more of a man’s colour, but everything is coming out blue, so add a blue item to match a clear, blue sky.
A palette of different colours is also popular — among them Flame Scarlet, Faded Denim, Biscay Green, Coral, Saffron and that perennial favourite, Winter White. Pink seems to have a staying power and continues to rebound, season after season.
Wondering what to do with all those leggings or pencil pants? Not to worry, you can still pair them with the right boots, but add a wide-legged pair of trousers. Also tuck them in your boots.
In the language of fashion, a suit is synonymous with power. Borrowed from a man’s suit, whether with skirt or pants, this season they pop out in bright colours, not your usual tweeds and checks, although checks are seen everywhere, big as well as small.
Capes are the fashion item of the season, but in our part of the world ponchos are more popular.
We have not forgotten the “little black dress”. Black transcends a uniform chicness that transcends fashion. It is appropriate, sedate, seductive, dangerous — laden with drama and magic.
Black Velvet is the ultimate and velvet is an untouchable classic, conquering the catwalks this season, seen at Chanel, Haider Mckinsson and others; total glamour.
Make-up is simple with purple eye-shadow, giving some glimmer to a masked face.
If the mood is somewhat sombre, wear bright, oversized accessories. They illuminate the sombreness.
Burberry, Balmain, and Vuitton are among those not too happy with haute couture going digital. During this coronavirus era it is largely limited to streaming leaving many in the fashion industry idle, with few consumers in the mood of buying any luxury items.
They are not alone. The passion and the magic are gone for now. We pray they will soon return.
“Fashion condemns us to many follies; the greatest is to make oneself its slave.”
Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)
*A version of this article appears in print in the 12 November, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly