1. The Return of the Supers
There was a refreshing shift on the runways this season, and it had little to do with the clothes and everything to do with the casting. While plenty of new faces graced the catwalks as usual, the real surprise was the reappearance of some of the greatest models of the ’90s. Yasmin Le Bon walked at Calvin Klein, Stella Tennant and Georgina Grenville starred at Ferragamo, and Shalom Harlow — who hasn’t set foot on the runway in years — closed Versace (in a floral lace gown and a cloud of her natural ringlets). These women added to the shows a kind of diversity that has been lacking: a range of ages. They also lent strength to the collections, thanks in part to their walks: the powerful, showstopping strides of the original supermodels. — MALINA JOSEPH GILCHRIST, style director, women’s, T magazine
2. Sun, Surf and Subversion
What was it with the beach this season? It was wellspring of designer inspiration, both as a metaphor for life — beauty on the surface, danger roiling beneath — and more literally as a traditional escape. At Calvin Klein, Raf Simons set his meditation on the scuba suit to the Da-Da-Da-Da lip-biting “Jaws” theme and at Etro, there were actual world-class surfers on the runway, along with some ready-to-wear boards. Thom Browne built a boardwalk complete with lifeguard chairs and striped cabanas, and then subverted the Nantucket clichés of seersucker, picnics, whales and lobsters by adding bondage and the risk of broken ankles to the mix and Michael Kors invented his own MK Beach Club. Imagine a community of the mind somewhere between Bora Bora and Miami, and you’ll get the idea. Finally, at Chanel Karl Lagerfeld’s models went frolicking in the watery surf he created (along with trucking in loads of real sand) inside the Grand Palais. All the viewers could do was ride the wave. — VANESSA FRIEDMAN, fashion director, Styles
3. Bike Shorts, Still a Thing
Fashion’s most unflattering women’s wear trend is far from a spot in our rearview mirrors. Skintight bike shorts pedaled their way onto scores of runways once again this season, having first emerged as a ’90s throwback reference at Off-White this time last year. At Fendi, in a look sported by Bella Hadid, they were long, navy and spandex, with shimmering streaks and a matching leather waist belt. At Roberto Cavalli, Paul Surridge presented a pair for after dark, in ochre with blue sequined embroidery. Over in Paris, the first look from the new creative director at Mugler, Casey Cadwallader, was an oversize, seamed black blazer and — you guessed it — matching biking shorts. And Jacquemus opted for an unforgiving knitted tangerine variation, to be worn with an oversize white shirt and the swagger of someone comfortable with having everything on show. Saddle up! — ELIZABETH PATON, European correspondent, Styles
4. Back to the Future
Fashion’s enduring obsession with the 1980s isn’t going anywhere. From Hedi Slimane’s controversial debut at Celine (all puffball off-the-shoulder minidresses and big-shouldered blazers) to the tie-dye T-shirts, stonewashed denim and shell suits at Stella McCartney — not to mention the oversize sweaters and Madonna crosses on show at Marco de Vincenzo — nostalgia for the era appears to have reached critical mass. Much like now, the ’80s were a polarizing decade both politically and culturally. It is not surprising, then, that these tribute fashions also still split the jury. — E.P.
5. Art of the Show
“Fashion shows are for transporting people,” Balenciaga designer Demna Gvasalia told Vogue this season, “otherwise there’s no point.” His show was one of the season’s most surreal transports. He compared working on a collection presentation to working on a movie, and in fact, it was Luc Besson’s studio on the outskirts of Paris where he held his show, in a digital tunnel that dripped, melted and swooped through a simulated reality. It was the work of the digital artist Jon Rafman, whom Gvasalia had met at Art Basel, and the effect was practically mind-melting, a digi-dystopia for an elegant but surreal collection.
He wasn’t the only designer to incorporate artwork into the runway experience. At Loewe, Jonathan Anderson installed several rooms of artwork at Maison de l’Unesco for his show: There were woven baskets in some (by Joe Hogan, a finalist for this year’s Loewe Craft Prize and one of its past winners), ceramics in others (by Ryoji Koie) and, in the room where I was seated, giant whirring brushes of the kind that you might otherwise find at a car wash (by Lara Favoretto) — after the show, security guards gleefully posed alongside them. And at Vivienne Westwood, Andreas Kronthaler went full circus. He worked with Bernhard Willhelm, who art directed the show; there were musclemen riding scooters and models riding skateboards and, as a centerpiece, an enormous paper sculpture by the London-based set designer Gary Card, who spent the show in the middle of it all, fixing and remolding it with a team of assistants wielding bottles of flame retardant. The cumulative effect — and how often can you say this at a fashion show — was a good time had by all. — MATTHEW SCHNEIER, deputy fashion critic and reporter, Styles
6. The New Bohemian
The spring collections always encourage designers to wax bohemian — a flower here, a fringe there. But what seemed different this season was where, and how frequently, these ideas appeared. Chloé and Paco Rabanne in Paris were leaders of the pack, each constructing garments from layers of contrasting floral prints that evoked exotic gardens. Patchwork and fringe were reimagined too, as was the case at Altuzarra, where seashell-embellished net sheaths topped knit dresses. Finally, at Etro, flowing paisley dresses were worn with vibrantly patterned wool blankets. — M.J.G.
7. Let Me Entertain You
Fashion has always loved a showman. This season, however, the “experiential show” — in which design houses collaborate with artists, musicians, dancers or directors to present blockbuster catwalk spectacles — was more popular than ever before. Inspired by dance and movement, Maria Grazia Chiuri’s sixth ready-to-wear collection for Dior was unveiled in Paris by models who wove their way around eight twirling dancers on a 164-meter-square stage, part of a dazzling performance choreographed by Sharon Eyal. At Gucci, Alessandro Michele had Jane Birkin serenade the crowd midway through the show with a rendition of “Baby Alone in Babylone” at the Théâtre Le Palace. And in Milan, Giorgio Armani asked the ’90s British heartthrob Robbie Williams to croon his greatest hits to an audience of thousands at the Emporio Armani show, held in a giant hangar at Linate airport. — E.P.
8. Rethinking Gender
Women’s fashion week, men’s fashion week — for a few shows, it was everybody’s fashion week, an acknowledgment that the orthodoxies surrounding gender are, at least in certain corners of the world, eroding as we speak. At Maison Margiela, there were bows on boys and suits on girls, and videos of models proclaiming that breaking rules was “My Mutiny.” (It turned out that Mutiny is the name of Margiela’s new fragrance, and that social movements are as co-optable for profit as anything else. Buyer beware.) But there was a genuine sense of play at upstart shows like Luar and Vaquera in New York and the newly rebranded Courrèges in Paris, a refreshing agnosticism about who could (and would) wear what. Who wears the pants? We does! — M.S.
9. The Outer Banks
The constant search for New! and More Original! and Never-Used-Before-for-a-Show venues can drive designers to some obscure places, and pretty risky choices. This season that meant a plethora of shows held en plein-air, unpredictable weather patterns be damned. In New York, rain poured down on Telfar’s show at the Blade helipad on 34th street (and a temporary tarp erected above guests’ heads blew away); it dripped off the umbrellas into attendees’ legs in the Marble Cemetery garden in the East Village at Rodarte, as well as onto the tulle dresses sprinkled among the roses; and it misted over the benches placed outside the original frame houses at the Weeksville Heritage Center, a historic Brooklyn site commemorating one of the first free African-American communities of the 19th century, where Kerby Jean-Raymond set his Pyer Moss show.
Things were balmier in Milan, when Missoni held its 65th anniversary show on a rooftop, though the wind did pick up enough to make it hard for musical guest star Michael Nyman to turn the pages of his sheet music. And in Paris, everyone got downright lucky: Hermès staged its show at the Hippodrome de Longchamp where the horse track was obscured by a giant runway-long mirror angled up to reflect the clouds drifting across a soft blue sky; Sonia Rykiel unveiled a collection at night in a pedestrian thoroughfare in the Sixth Arrondissement of Paris, a.k.a. the newly christened Allée Sonia Rykiel (the first street ever named after a designer in the city); and Marine Serre’s latest looks traversed an elevated walkway overlooking endless railroad tracks. There were more, but you get where we’re going. — V.F.
10. Black and White
There was basic black — this is fashion week, after all — and monochrome white (the new black?) on the runways of Paris, but some of the season’s most energetic looks put it all on the table, with graphic treatments of black and white. For the bravest and boldest among us, there are stripes (at Dries Van Noten), checkerboard checks (at Balenciaga) and bifurcated blocks of color (at Louis Vuitton): racing gear, even if only for the rat race. — M.S.