Spring 2017 collections will commence next Wednesday in New York, where will embark on a month long journey through London, Milan and Paris. There’ll be almost 200 collections to assimilate, dissect and review. There’ll be unforgettable party Instagrams to double tap and swipe pass; Tweetable quotes from hilariously verbose press releases; Spotify-playlist-defining runway tracks. Before all that it is best to review the season passed and share with you my top ten collections of the Fall 2016 season. Here they are.
Rodarte, New York
Selecting a favourite from New York was simple. Laura and Kate Mulleavy’s Rodarte tour-de-force took pride of place above the mediocrity and drabness that permeated New York Fashion Week. It was by far the most dour season in recent years… but Laura and Kate, as usual, gave me something to smile about. Their dark and whimsical outing saw them explore their home state—California. Dreamy visuals of San Francisco in the 1970s dominated the runway. They’re unstoppably unforgettable.
It pays to see your favourite collections in the flesh. Steven Tai hit my radar the season before last; I was privileged enough to witness his London Fashion Week debut and his sophomore effort was nothing short of phenomenal. The Canadian-born designer looked at the Freaky Friday concept, an old soul trapped inside a young woman’s body—she’s the girl who’d prefer to stay home in bed, reading, watching a movie or partaking in embroidery. It was no surprise to see models clad in ‘granny chic’ garb and duvet-esqe drapes. With an interesting interaction with age, Steven Tai is at the top of his game.
Faustine Steinmetz, London
I have been watching Faustine Steinmetz develop her design handwriting over the past two years and it has been nothing short of pleasurable. The French designer took London by storm in 2014 with her handmade denim, then she used fabrics to create the illusion of denim, before expanding into wools. This season it was wool, yarn, felt. They all contributed to the larger conversation of the art present in Faustine’s work.
Simone Rocha, London
Like Faustine, I’ve been watching Simone Rocha develop her aesthetic—though for double the amount of time. Her touching Fall 2016 collection was feminist in its concept and reading; deliberate in its execution. It was astutely described as “exquisite postpartum poetry” by AnOther in their review—a description I have yet to recover from because of it’s aptness. Bravo, Simone! Words cannot describe how beautiful her collection was.
Mary Katrantzou, London
My first Mary Katrantzou show, her best season to date? Yes, it was a significant fashion moment for me which perhaps could cloud my judgment; but I am certain that professing this as her best collection is unbiased. Her Romeo & Juliet meets rodeo inspiration, paired with the high-calibre selection of models and beautiful crooning of 70s music contributed to my best London Fashion Week experience in my four years of attending.
It’s no surprise to see Miuccia Prada’s tour-de-force assuming a position on this list. The Italian designer will forever be the one to watch in Milan because she is undeniably the greatest designer in Milan, and in the world. She is fearlessly herself and her Fall 2016 collection which was a feminist reassurance to the woman of the world. It was about women, their strength and fragility and vulnerability. This narrative was expressed through a vagabond character, who conjured up imagery of the crisis in Mediterranean waters presently. With a strong lineup of models and beautiful clothes, Miuccia Prada is a winner!
Consuelo Castiglioni’s conceptual, intellectual Marni collection is never one of my favourites at Milan Fashion Week. I generally brush over it with disinterest—I find it can be quite clunky and unattractive. This season, however, was an exceptional portrayal of art intersecting with fashion. The collection spoiled the Marni customer with desirable choices to complete the fall wardrobe. An exciting proposition.
Since assuming the role of artistic director at Loewe, Jonathan Anderson has reinvigorated the dormant Spanish house and reignited its flame. His models charged down the runway to the sound of a smoking clinic’s warning, intoning a message over an intercom. Injecting humour into his Loewe collections has easily won over the fashion pack. This season’s accessory—another tantalising creation that’s sure to sell quickly—was a lucky cat necklace. His remarkable effort and skill ensures that he will be remembered—like Miuccia—as one of the greatest fashion designers working today.
Junya Watanabe, Paris
Junya Watanabe’s geometrically configured fall collection was considered cold and unmoving by many. It’s magic was not lost on this critic who fell truly, madly, deeply, in love with the sharp lines and impossible shapes that were created with neoprene, an relatively unused fabric, except for high street stores. The clothes were thoughtful, quiet but undeniably potent.
Haider Ackermann, Paris
There is something about Haider Ackermann’s velvet wizardry that no matter how many times you see it in different incarnations, it never looks old or tired. He simmers things in a way that frenetic labels overcook things. His designs are never overwrought; they’re perfectly exacted. This gemstone-coloured collection was presented amidst a busy Paris season but it stood out, glowing, emitting a radiant aura.
Images voguerunway.com & London images are my own, except Simone Rocha