February 15, 2013 8:03 pm

Cold comfort

The key trends for autumn/winter 2013 from New York Fashion Week
Looks from the Autumn/Winter 2013 collections from New York Fashion Week: (from left) Reed Krakoff, Carolina Herrera and Vera Wang©Catwalking

From left: Reed Krakoff, Carolina Herrera and Vera Wang

The great cover-up

Over and over came the oversized overcoats: the giant menswear-inspired outerwear items. From grey flannel to navy wool, plaid to pea coat, the runways were covered – literally and metaphorically – by the sorts of toppers that can take a village (inside). It’s less a nod to the romance of filching a too-big item from the closet of a boyfriend or husband than a reflection of the current trend towards toughening up that has also spawned the return of the suit. These coats cover a multitude of sins, creating their own psychological and physical comfort zone: just huddle, or cuddle, up inside. And while they also nod to ye olde vintage craze, and are smart enough not to advertise their haute origins, make no mistake: in fabric and expanse, they are the ultimate in insider luxe.

Dangerous curves

The latest area of female physiognomy to come into designer focus is the hips, which have been folded, draped and padded into gargantuan proportions. On the runway this creates a visually tiny waist and hence a neat super-curvy statement, but off the runway it’s a difficult proposition: most of us would like to minimise this area, not call it to everyone’s attention. Rather than a mere fashion perversity created to torture consumers, however, the “hippie” movement seems like nothing so much as a wishful reference to Dior’s New Look, when acres of organza celebrated the end of wartime rationing. If only fabric were a fortune-teller.

Primal instinct

Barbarians at the throat: though there have been a fair amount of skins on the runways (it’s autumn/winter on the catwalk after all, and in winter ... etc) it isn’t the usual kind of full-on fur; rather, fox and shearling and mink are being used as an accent, most often at the shoulders, neck and arms, and often in full bristle. The effect is both armorial – pelts donned for protective power – and a little feral, hinting all is not as smooth or contained as tailored wool might usually suggest. Either way, the sleeker lower layers allow for barbarian chic without the bulk, which on city streets lets you have your attitude and silhouette too. Conan never looked so good.

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