Luxury fashion retailer Brown Thomas showcased its spring/summer 21 collections via Zoom this season, a sign of the times but also one that alludes to adaptability amidst a maelstrom of change.
Lockdown 3.0 notwithstanding, the presentation was vivid and exuberant with a sense of optimism for brighter times ahead.
“It’s very colourful and totally different from what we’ve seen before,” says Brown Thomas fashion director, Shelly Corkery, while “keeping the current climate at the forefront of all our lines in terms of what people will be wearing for the season and to introduce it in a positive way”.
As the moratorium on day-to-day life continues, it is this everyday exuberance that makes for a sartorial mood-booster.
Maximalist glamour is reimagined for at-home realities with elegant iterations of easy-to-wear pieces. Think stylish sweatshirts, long tunics and ballooning trousers offering an alchemy of chic comfort for bodies at rest.
Look to Dries Van Noten for kaleidoscopic-sprinkled energy parlayed in jeans, cardigans, and midi-skirts or Parisian golden girl Isabel Marant whose 1980’s disco- daytime fusion guarantees an evening dressed to chill.
In contrast to the banality engendered by extended periods of self-sequester, spring sees a respite from reality in a cache of reverse palette-cleansers. Expect acid brights to leave a phosphorescent glow as evidenced by strong structured shoulders in neon yellow and pink at Balmain or Stella McCartney’s conscious coupling of raspberry sorbet and mint. Should the prospect of a clean slate appeal, take heart in the equal presence of warming butter, cream, and caramel tones.
Wherever you fall on the spectrum, the abiding mood of relaxation is a given.
Whether a knee-jerk reflex to months of restriction or a prescient transition into IRL life, silhouettes are slouchy; oversized and fit for functionality. Tailoring continues to shape the fashion landscape, now with a deconstructed DNA and welcome fluidity.
Cult label Acne Studios injects Swedish design codes within a comforting oversized embrace; Dior’s indigo ‘Barre’ kimono and wide-legged culottes serve up regal realness; as for MaxMara’s laidback-luxe suiting – take it as a cue to upgrade your loungewear game.
Speaking of which, the new vanguard of elevated basics – those that reflect our collaborative culture of micro-teams, pods and bubbles – gains new relevance.
Designers accentuate the easy versatility and comfort of jersey and incorporate decorative detailing to offer a light-hearted and escapist mood, best seen at Balenciaga and Céline. While prim and pristine low-riding track pants and vibrant striped knitwear find expression at Miu Miu, it was Valentino’s surprise collaboration with Levi’s that elevates denim to the doyenne of daywear. As per the prevailing mood, fits are looser and longer, some with puddle hems but ultimately, to paraphrase Victoria Beckham, about sensing the winds of change: what women will want to wear on the other side. Spoiler alert: you’ll be seeing more of the statement shirt. Consider those waist-up wardrobe conundrums a thing of the past. This season’s conference call staple runs the gamut from ruffled tiers at Red Valentino to neckerchief collar throwbacks at Erdem. Lace, macramé, crochet, and embroideries also provide textural couture accents for virtual living which add a crafty, more palpable human touch – a luxury in days of social-distancing.
As for new ready-to-wear brands? Sea NY, Tove, La Collection, Woolrich and Ulla Johnson join the rails while Balmain, MaxMara, Dolce & Gabbana and Victoria Beckham mainline continue their Leeside residency.
Fashion may not flatten the curve but in times of uncertainty, its stylish salve is a welcome escape valve. The future can and will be bright again. Let’s remind ourselves of that.