This is perhaps the most important trend of the season. “High-end designers have been feeling sportswear for a while, but it’s now more accessible than ever,” says Arnotts Accessories and Contemporary Womenswear Buyer Lisa Stanley.
Technical mesh, Lycra, neoprene and other performance-wear fabrics were all-pervasive. Designers like Tom Ford, Gucci and Emilio Pucci use silk and leather to elevate casual pieces. Knee-length shorts, pleated mini-skirts or cropped pants make this look.
“The bomber is the most on-trend jacket silhouette, especially in a bold colour or print,” says Lisa. Don’t be afraid to contrast sportswear with girly pieces. “A bomber looks really cool thrown over your dress,” says Brown Thomas buyer Shelly Corkery. She also suggests leg-warmers (as seen at Prada) for the truly fashion-forward.
The trousers of the season are super comfy. “The wide leg crop is one of the new shapes I’ve seen a lot of. They’re great for showing off a pair of fabulous mules another must for SS14,” says Harvey Nichols Womenswear Buyer Katie Wade. She also encourages you to try a sporty crop-top. “The new silhouette can be worn with a high waist skirt by the less adventurous.”
“There’s an abundance of flowers through almost every collection,” says Shelly Corkery. Flowers for Spring may sound like old news but the execution keeps them fresh. Embroidery, cutouts, appliqué, 3D and tattoo blooms look distinctly modern. “My favourite collection to feature this trend is Mary Katrantzou. Her embellished take on floral is amazing,” says Shelly. Katrantzou worked with Maison Lesage, the feted couture embroidery house, to create fabulous appliqué flowers from ribbons, crystal and silk. Her dresses are among the best of the season. Christopher Kane’s cut-out petals and botanical diagram prints are a less girly way to get the look. Shelly also likes the edgy, Byzantine-gold blooms on Dries Van Noten’s dresses, inspired by Francisco Goya and Diego Velazquez. Peter Pilotto’s geometric-framed lilies were another cool take on the trend.
Spring’s tribal mentality can be traced back to Raf Simons Dior Couture show in July, which was informed by Latin American, Asian and especially African traditional dress. Animal, kente and tropical prints were big at the Milan and Paris Spring shows. “These are easy-to-wear prints and clashing them creates an impactful look,” says Katie Wade.
“This trend came through in several collections, most noticeably Givenchy, Alexander McQueen and Valentino,” says Shelly Corkery. Key details include colourful brushstroke-effects, fringe and beading. Accessorise with natural-wood jewellery and ear cuffs. “Maria Francesca Pepe offers a beautiful array of earcuffs in her new collection,” says Katie.
Tribal influences were also reflected in the bold end of spring’s colour spectrum. “Krishna orange, scarlet, cobalt blue and fuchsia are really strong this season and look gorgeous against Irish skin,” says Lisa Stanley. “Indian influences on prints and embellishment will be a really strong trend for festival season,” tips ASOS Womenswear Buyer Rachel Morgans.
This was the most feminine trend of a very effeminate season. “Modern Romance is all about transparency, lace, chiffon, ribbons and appliqué. Erdem epitomised this trend,” says Shelly Corkery. Colour-wise, there’s lots of white, pastels and sorbets to look forward to. “I think these colours are great layered up in one tone,” says Rachel Morgans.
“Sheer pieces are very ethereal and ideal for layering and creating new silhouettes,” says Rachel. “Coloured lace is also very feminine and looks modern and cool with trainers. Slip dresses, as seen at Isabel Marant, are also key for spring. Choose a simple one in a beautiful fabric and smarten it up with a blazer,” says Rachel.
The ladylike cocoon is the coat silhouette of the season. Katie Wade loves it in powder blue, while Lisa Stanley recommends the vanilla option by Milly.
“Halston Heritage, which launches at Arnotts in February, also offers the perfect romantic occasion dresses for a Spring 2014 wedding.”
The new fit-and-flare skirt (tight on the hip, full to the hem) is hot for spring.
“Pencil skirts are still around but the full, 50s-style silhouette is far more directional,” says Shelly.
Designers want women to show their metal this season, especially in the daytime. “There was a definite repositioning of metallic fabrics as daywear for spring,” says Shelly Corkery. Gilt brocade, silver foil, figure-hugging chainmail and silk lamé all emphasised this trend. Models shimmered before sundown in Lanvin’s silver boiler suit, Balmain’s alloy bomber jackets and Altuzarra’s foil skirts.
Those who don’t like their day clothes to shine can pick up the look with the accessory of the season: the mini-bag.
“Designers are literally shrinking their best-selling styles this season,” says Lisa Stanley. “Clutches and satchels are still on trend too, updated with details like fringing and hand-straps.”
“The direction fashion is taking towards art was very evident at the spring shows, most notably at Prada,” says Shelly Corkery. Miuccia Prada was inspired by politically-charged Mexican murals this season and hired a team of international artists to paint female faces across her primary-coloured shift dresses. The statement ties feminism to the feminine mood of the season.
“I also loved every single piece at Celine, especially the graffiti-print tops,” says Shelly. Celine’s Phoebe Philo based her colourful, oversized graffiti on a book of images by Hungarian street-photographer Brassaï.
“It was my favourite show of the season,” says Shelly.
Elsewhere, Karl Lagerfeld channelled Jeff Koons with Pantone-streaked dresses at Chanel, while Marc Jacob revived Stephen Sprouse graffiti (one of his greatest hits) with for final Louis Vuitton collection.