What Fasten your seat belts for fashion’s whistle-stop world tour. From Zulu skirts to Navajo fringing, designers offered a multinational megamix of tribes and travellers. Imagine an artisanal take on National Geographic, hippy luxe and the gap yah set.
Where At Givenchy, designer Riccardo Tisci’s collection was billed as “a crash between African and Japanese cultures mixed with haute couture techniques”. This translated into loose, deconstructed coats in black and navy with kimono sleeves, obi belts and samurai-like tunics, along with artfully draped silk jersey dresses in spice and earth colours (see also Donna Karan’s hand-blocked silk scarf dresses and skirts). Pleated evening dresses soaked in sequins, and condor feathers appliquéd on leather gave the collection a seriously luxe, artisan feel.
At Valentino, embroidered jackets, as well as lace and brocade dresses, gave a nod to the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, while suede minidresses with fringing had a more Navajo feel.
Dries Van Noten showed sleeveless tops embellished at the neck with shells that could have washed up in the Seychelles, embroidered jackets with a Russian feel and unbleached cotton peasant shirts teamed with grander silk damask.
The sense of the warrior woman was particularly strong at Alexander McQueen, where Zulu straw skirts were reinterpreted on evening wear in embroidered feathers, and gold-tone chokers and arm jewellery suggestive of the Masai.
However, the prize for transforming the most unappealing gap year garment into an intriguing fashion statement goes to Junya Watanabe, who draped and deconstructed the kind of fringed T-shirts you might wear to a full moon party in Goa if the rest of your clothes were stolen from your beach hut.
Why For a start, it’s summer, the season when designers let their imaginations wander to exotic climes. Then there’s the perennial desire for something striking and different. Coco Chan, a buyer at Harvey Nichols, says: “This trend evolves year-on-year. These collections are refreshing and instantly eye-catching, and our customers look for a point of difference when investing and understand the worth of specially crafted items. They always react positively to collections that offer colour, pattern and print.”
Should you invest? Yes, but only if you’ve got the big bucks to spend, because any of the more crafted pieces cost considerably more than a round-the-world-ticket (see for example Valentino’s leather-appliquéd beaded tulle minidress, which was priced at £7,745 on Net-a-Porter, now sold out) That said, these imaginative designs won’t date and may even become collectors’ items. When it comes to styling the look, Kim Hersov, whose fashion label Talitha features easy-to-wear bohemian luxe pieces such as a cropped paisley silk jacket with wooden bead embellishment, suggests, “Paring back the rest of your look to avoid looking like a fortune teller. Wear with something sleek and modern such as skinny leather trousers.” Try Alexander McQueen’s tie-dye jumper (Harvey Nichols, £675, left) with leather jeans (Iris & Ink’s leggings, £398, are great) or rolled-up boyfriend jeans (Gap, £49.99) and flat sandals. By contrast, Coco Chan suggests throwing caution to the wind. “Layer print on print, the more they clash the better, it’s all about the mash-up,” she says.