Womenswear trends for autumn/winter 2018-19

Questions about femininity, as well as women's empowerment and representation preyed on designers' minds more than ever this season, with each contributing their own particular vision to the debate triggered by recent sexual harassment scandals. Looking closely at the women's ready-to-wear autumn/winter 2018-19 collections, we see that the woman who emerges from among these diverse creative visions balances strength and gentleness, fully accepting and incorporating her femininity, accentuated by a number of designers, even as masculine codes continue to influence womenswear. The bulky silhouettes, multiple layers and maxi lengths on show demonstrated both a need to assert and defend oneself, while bright colors, sparkles and eccentric details acted as a breath of fresh air. 

1) Maxi lengths

Bottega Veneta, autumn/winter 2018-19 - © PixelFormula

Even though micro-dresses and mini-skirts are still on the rise, maxi-length pieces have clearly gained the upper hand, with floor-length coats seen on runways everywhere, especially at the Chanel and Giambattista Valli shows. The pieces readily took on an air of loose dressing gowns dragging along the floor, enveloping models with extra-long sleeves and cozy padding. In the same spirit, loose, flowing dresses – often in satin –could also be seen running down the length of models' legs, coming to brush against their ankles in a style that channeled both bohemian and boudoir vibes. 

2) Throws 

Alexander McQueen, autumn/winter 2018-19 - © PixelFormula

Since it was first noticed a few seasons ago, the throw has become an essential accessory in wardrobes that are increasingly deconstructable. Draped over models' shoulders the piece served as a shawl or a cape (as in the collections shown by Roksanda, Junko Shimada and Lemaire), or even as a poncho, as at Isabel Marant's show. It transformed into dresses that were belted at the waist by Giorgi Armani or held up by straps at Beautiful People. At Hermès, it was tied around models' waists to become a skirt, and was also worn as a shoulder-strap bag, while at Gucci and Alexander McQueen, the throw was elongated into a coat. 

3) Fringes and plush

Prada, autumn/winter 2018-19 - © PixelFormula

In the same protective vein, many designers bet on bulky silhouettes in the spirit of cocooning, proposing competing alternatives to real fur. Garments featuring long, shaggy, goat hair-like threads or made out of hairy wool were recurrent, as seen in Grizzly's coats and trousers, Issey Miyake's shaggy woolen pieces, Balenciaga's fluorescent pullovers, or reimagined as plastic fringe in Prada's dresses. Little shearling jackets and waistcoats appeared everywhere too, as well as billowing ostrich feathers which lined pockets, collars and sleeves (Angel Chen, Carolina Herrera, Dries Van Noten, Anaïs Jourden).
4) Layering

Balenciaga, autumn/winter 2018-19 - © PixelFormula

Overlapping and double – or even triple – layered clothing are perfect examples of the style that has been adopted for next winter, which looks set to be a harsh one if the season's collections are to be believed. The feel is of a personalized look that peels away as the weather changes. Beautiful People piled three trench coats on top of each other, while Balenciaga did the same with several windbreakers. Other models wore two coats at the same time, as at the shows of Issey Miyake, Victoria Beckham, Rochas and Gabriela Hearst. At Sacai, coats doubled up as jackets, while Comme des Garçons went even further, creating millefeuilles-like pieces. In the same vein, coat linings came into their own, featuring contrasting colors and materials.
5) Hybrid "two-in-one" looks

Off-White, autumn/winter 2018-19 - © PixelFormula

Mixing up fabrics has become the favorite pastime of designers of late, but many are no longer content to simply add an insert or a shirt yolk here and there. Indeed, designers seem to have abandoned patchwork garments in favor of the more exciting "two-in-one" look. "Two-material" pieces in particular are on the rise, resulting in some unusual combinations, such as Balenciaga's coat featuring houndstooth on the top and colored feathers on the bottom, or Undercover's worsted wool and checked tweed piece. Best of all were the outfits that gave two looks for the price of one, with two distinct styles on the left and right sides (Jour/né, Sacai, Uma Wang, Off-White, Thom Browne, Annakiki).

6) Bright colors

Lucio Vanotti, autumn/winter 2018-19 - © PixelFormula

Poppy red, fuchsia, cyan, apple green, Milka purple and gold, as well as a whole range of fluorescent shades: a certain pop energy coursed through the seasons's collections, with a slew of monochromatic outfits and dresses displaying bold and intense colors. It was a veritable injection of brightness, an invitation to look to the future with innocence and optimism through a return to the sweet and sour shades of childhood where candy pink took center stage. 

7) Cozy knitwear

Poiret, autumn/winter 2018-19 - © PixelFormula

Knitwear, including dresses, trousers, gaiters, stockings, coats and waistcoats, as well as pullovers – preferably oversized and relaxed – were once again important pieces in the coming season's wardrobe. However, as elsewhere, the garments gained in volume due to a game of twists and overlaps, with ultra-soft mohair pieces standing out from the crowd.

8) The blazer dress

Haider Ackermann, autumn/winter 2018-19 - © PixelFormula

Following the coat dress, it's the blazer dress's turn to snatch the limelight. Worn alone on a nude torso, the men's jacket-turned-dress is both elegant and sensual. Haider Ackermann elongated a dinner jacket and coupled it with colorful tights and Isabel Marant belted her version at the waist, while Jacquemus' low-cut piece, incorporated in a contrasting shawl, was terribly risqué. Elsewhere, Alexander Wang removed the sleeves from his blazer dress to make it even more sexy. 

9) Quilt

Lutz Huelle, autumn/winter 2018-19 - © PixelFormula

This material, often used in linings, has stepped out of the shadows this season. It arrives in the womenswear wardrobe carrying a number of equestrian connotations, from saddle blankets to riding jackets, another running theme that characterized the autumn/winter 2018-19 collections. For the coming winter, there are a number of different styles featuring quilt on offer: Balmain's silvery pantsuit or Lutz Huelle's golden version, Nina Ricci's long blue coat or Emilio Pucci's baroque printed pieces, as well as Derek Lam's skirt, Albino Teodoro's shirt and Peter Pilotto's jacket. Quilted inserts were also to be found in the collections of Marine Serre, Aalto and Carven. 

10) Spotlight on the face

Calvin Klein, autumn/winter 2018-19 - © PixelFormula

Combining a protective instinct with religious references, the act of veiling, hiding or making up models' faces shaped a number of collections, as though the need to protect oneself from the outside world and the looks of others had become vital. The increasing presence of the balaclava is but one example of the trend. It appeared in New York, imagined in crochet by Raf Simons for Calvin Klein, in Milan at Gucci, and in Paris at Marine Serre, Dior, Lanvin, Martin Margiela, Chanel and Balenciaga. Elsewhere, it was a headscarf (Richard Quinn) or a veil (Erdem) that covered models' faces, when they weren't painted, as in the shows of Rick Owens, Gucci and Moschino, or covered in glitter as at Giambattista Valli. 

Translated by Robin Driver

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