Luxury fashion retailer Brown Thomas showcased its autumn/winter 19 collections at the Examination Hall in Trinity College, Dublin, flanked by ornamental pilasters and imposing whole-length portraits of Queen Elizabeth and eminent alumni. The message of the 90-look show was clear – gutsy glamour is top of the new season curriculum.
Opposites attract across the seasonal mood board with a push-pull of hard and soft elements underpinning popular winter themes. “There’s a lot of tough love,” says Brown Thomas fashion director Shelly Corkery, “so there’s a much heavier, hard edge,” while maximalist glamour and clean-cut purity abide as key to the cooler months.
Grunge assumes sovereign status as femininity is repositioned with dark gothic shapes, hardware finishes and leathers. Biker boots and tractor soles leave their stamp on footwear; while a print cameo from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein compliments of Prada serves up a scintilla of whimsy.
Tailoring continues in a similar thread with an ‘out of office’ memo balancing sharp shoulders and nipped in waists. Unlike last season’s '80s power twist, the autumn/winter agenda is effortlessly empowered. Look to Roksanda for elevated tracksuit bottoms and blazer co-ordinates and Jil Sander for a quietly confident raw- edged felted wool jacket and skirt pairing – a paradigm of modern architecture.
In the spirit of juxtaposition; there’s a dance floor for every blank canvas.
Enter the daylight disco, where sequin-encrusted dresses and embellished skirts deconstruct dress codes and flirt shamelessly with reserved roll neck knitwear making day-to- night segues oh-so-seamless. New labels Paco Rabanne and 16 Arlington Designers head the pre-theatre sparkle brigade while Balmain busts out the big guns with an entrance-making dragon-embroidered mini dress.
Prefer a more tempered approach to high shine? New Canadian brand Nicole Benisti offers functional frisson with metallic puffa jackets and vibrant shearling lined coats putting the kibosh on those proverbial winter blues.
Print-wise, checks prove their academic prowess, with mathematical box-ticking from Victoria Beckham to Dior and Rejina Pyo – purveyor of a hashtag-worthy blanket square suit. Likewise, florals assert themselves as hardy perennials with this season’s ebullient bouquet leaving darker blooms in the shade. The rose is, without doubt, the go-to genus for many designers like Richard Quinn whose theatrical placement prints on amplified silhouettes put an emphatic full stop to the microscopic buds of yore.
Bigger isn’t always better, at least where bags are concerned. After a summer of slouchy cross-body totes, the mini bag reappears with shrunken versions of signature styles, charm-like sizes and micro-shapes making the grade. Chloé syncopates this season with the Paddington lock and Chloé C bags; look out for smaller adaptations of the Valentino V-Sling bag and Off-White Jitney 1.4 too.
Similarly, colour takes a quieter stance. Foundation neutrals establish a practical palette in cream, beige and black; nuanced mid-tones (toffee, mixed berries and caramel) and watercolour pastels (lemon, pale pink and pale lavender) add layering depth; while chilli pepper red, fruit dove pink, galaxy blue and Brexit-busting metallics create considered visual interest.
As for new Leeside labels? Expect Dolce & Gabbana and Victoria Beckham mainline collections to join heavy hitters Roland Mouret, Temperley London and Moncler on the current ready-to-wear roster. It’s a well-studied season; one that will win serious points come the new style semester.