Feel-good fashion to fight pandemic gloom

Fall/Winter runway trends aim to buoy spirits with bold brocades, powerful sleeves and shoes made for stomping

It is now more important than ever for fashion to have meaning and intent.

What were the trends this season that were so special, they set your heart racing? Intricate tapestries and sprays of sparkle definitely checked that box, as did clever investments such as bewitching black dresses and elegant column sheaths that will stand the test of time.

Even accessories, from the tiniest bags to towering shoes, packed a mighty wallop.

Dress up, feel good and brace yourself for the new norm. Because if there's one thing you can do, it's to look your best.


Future Heirlooms

What is old is new again. Some of the most beautiful creations of the season evoked antique tapestries that usually hang on the walls of grand old houses or precious brocades left behind in a grandmother's attic.

Among the most inventive were those shown at Marni, where brocades woven on ancient Venetian looms were patchworked with humbler fabrics and metal hardware; and Loewe, where graceful aristocratic silhouettes were updated with a modern sensibility.


Tinsel Town

If the flappers from the last time the 20s came around taught us anything, it is that sometimes, the best way to face the gloom is to put on your most glittering frock.

It was no longer just about shine this season, but also about texture. Think supersized ailettes, foil, cellophane and rustling, swishing fringe. You will see and hear this woman when she walks into the room.


Black Magic

Black has shaped up to be the colour of the season, but think beyond the basic little black dress.

Against this blank canvas of a colour, designers experimented with dramatic silhouettes - see the winged tuxedo dress at Alexander McQueen and the gargantuan hats at Givenchy.

Otherwise, they elevated the hue with intensive craftsmanship, as with the bustier of cut-leather rosettes at Valentino, and the elaborate beading and fringing at Prada.


It's A Plaid, Plaid World

It has always been a classic autumnal print, but this season saw designers re-interpret plaid in dazzling new ways.

It was twisted and distorted on body-hugging dresses at Burberry (below) and cut on the bias into a handkerchief-hem dress at Alexander McQueen. Other designers imagined new ways to wear it, with jewelled bibs at Miu Miu and high-gloss latex at Saint Laurent.


Column Inches

Perhaps as a rebuke of the excess that has been pervading fashion - and as a demonstration that sometimes, less is truly more - the column dress has made a comeback.

With a high neck, long sleeves and clean lines falling straight to the floor, the silhouette might have been simple, but the garment was far from simplistic.

Valentino (below), Bottega Veneta and Balenciaga all showed glittering columns; Miu Miu did versions in romantic crinkled satin, while at Celine, they came opulently embroidered.


My Fair Lady

The curved and then contracted volume of what is known as the Juliet sleeve was seen on runway after runway this season.

It is the ultimate trope of delicate femininity, but this season saw designers turn it into a show of strength. The Fendi women boldly took up space with their exaggerated sleeves; while, at Alexander McQueen, gently puffed sleeves were teamed with latex boots and harnesses worn like armour.


Baby Got Bag

Today's women take their lives with them on the go.

Instead of having everything shoved into a jumbo tote, designers explored the idea of compartmentalisation, resulting in a myriad of micro bags that can be worn anywhere from top to toe.

Marine Serre showed a mini backpack strapped to the calf, while Fendi hung AirPods and lipstick cases on the belt like modern talismans.


Brave New Heights

After years of sensible little heels and sturdy boots, the appetite for show-stopping shoes is back - and nothing makes a statement like the power platform.

It was a key component of Celine's sultry Left Bank chic, while at Rochas, pastel-hued versions in velvet (below) added to the romantic flair of the collection.

Meanwhile, at Rick Owens and Dries Van Noten, platform boots came laden with rock-star glamour. These shoes are made for stomping.


This article first appeared in Harper's Bazaar Singapore, the leading fashion glossy on the best of style, beauty, design, travel and the arts. Go to harpersbazaar.com.sg and follow @harpersbazaarsg on Instagram; and harpersbazaarsingapore on Facebook. The October 2020 issue is out on newsstands now.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 02, 2020, with the headline 'Feel-good fashion to fight pandemic gloom'. Print Edition | Subscribe