Balenciaga velvet Pagoda turtleneck, £1,250, and nappa leather Front Kick skirt, £2,850. Chain and ring, model’s own
Balenciaga velvet Pagoda turtleneck, £1,250, and nappa leather Front Kick skirt, £2,850. Chain and ring, model’s own © Joachim Mueller-Ruchholtz

It’s the women’s style issue (the men’s one is next week). But how do we feel about the “new season”? It’s a weird one, for sure. As the drift of editorial continues to predict “the end of fashion as we know it”, and the market goes long on sweatpants, the idea of autumn trends seems unusually anomalous. What will we wear next season? No doubt much the same as this. 

How to Spend It editor Jo Ellison
How to Spend It editor Jo Ellison © Marili Andre

Nevertheless, for all the talk of fashion’s demise, I have still got dressed to write this. We have not, thank goodness, quite rid ourselves of clothes. Moreover, stylish people continue to compel us. Despite my lockdown love affair with dad shorts, I still want to look at extraordinary clothes. As recent weeks have allowed for more social interaction, the act of dressing up has reminded us what fashion can be good for: how one can create the drama with an outfit, how to wear a mood. Reopening my wardrobe in preparation for an outing, I have felt a little frisson. I look forward to those opportunities for which I might dress up. Hence, we’ve used this style issue to look less for specific pointers about that one jacket or silhouette that might define the season, and more to think about clothes as a means of self-expression. Fashion gets emotional, you know?

For “The Wisdom of Water”, style director Isabelle Kountoure worked remotely with photographer Vincent van de Wijngaard, his wife, Saskia de Brauw, and their daughter, Luna, sending suitcases of clothes to their home in upstate New York to create a story that captures themes of solitude, the immersive joy of nature and the intimacies of married life. In preparation, Vincent was drawn to works by Andrew Wyeth, the US artist who built his oeuvre on a pledge to “paint his life”, and the resulting images have that same tender candour – even though Vincent’s images have a racier side. The couple have seldom worked on editorial together, and never in their home: I’m especially grateful they contributed here. 

From the backwoods of Hudson Valley to the baroque interiors of one of London’s glitziest hotels, “Puttin’ on the Ritz” is another story born of chance collaboration. Earlier this summer I was approached by the hotel to see if we might use the then empty space as a location for a shoot. In exceptional circumstances, we were given free rein of the fabled institution at a time of eerie quiet. The resulting story – about the return of more ladylike staples such as opera coats, full circle skirts, boudoir style and sweetheart necklines – offers a reassuring counterpoint to a narrative that argues we won’t get out of elasticated waists again.

Photographer Vincent van de Wijngaard shot with his wife, model Saskia de Brauw, at their home in upstate New York
Photographer Vincent van de Wijngaard shot with his wife, model Saskia de Brauw, at their home in upstate New York © Vincent van de Wijngaard

The artistic director of womenswear at Louis Vuitton, Nicolas Ghesquière, makes a further claim for the future of fashion in “The Moment is Only Rising Now”. Despite the adjustments that have been necessitated by the pandemic, I found the designer in an optimistic mood. In marked contrast to the sober fashions that followed the 2008 recession, Ghesquière predicts the creative response to 2020 will take a bolder line. He also speaks highly of how recent months have precipitated an opportunity for real systemic change.

Fashion’s tireless time traveller, Ghesquière has always found a new expression for the future by drawing on the past – and the circularity of fashion is as inevitable as the fall of autumn leaves. This season, the 1980s and ’90s have surged back into fashion, with a glut of pastel suiting, stretch fabric and paste jewellery on show. In our collecting story (“Costume Jewellery”), Kate Finnigan finds out why the bijoux seen on supermodels such as Claudia Schiffer and Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw have got auction houses buzzing once again. 

Andrew Wyeth, Christina’s World, 1948
Andrew Wyeth, Christina’s World, 1948 © Andrew Wyeth/Alamy

Recycling of another nature takes centre stage in “In With the Old”, for which Baya Simons spoke to brands using deadstock fabric and vintage clothing as key to their design. That many emerging names are making upcycling central to their purpose highlights the industry’s gradual awakening to the issue of waste. It’s all part of an incremental shift in attitudes around the conditions of production and manufacture (facts that were laid bare during the pandemic when fast-fashion workers were exposed as being among the most susceptible to mistreatment) that will hopefully pave the way for lasting change.

But it’s not all about the clothes. If, like me, you’ve been mortified by the daily spectre of your Zoom reflection, you will appreciate Nicola Moulton’s round-up of the season’s best beauty overhauls (“The Great Beauty Reset”). Immediately, on reading of these magic formulas promising a return to radiance, elasticity and facial tautness, I embarked on a four-week Sisley programme for which I have been slathering a cure-all potion on my face. Is it working? Zoom me, and you can be the judge.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the issue. At the very least, I hope it serves as a reminder that fashion may have had a reset but it is still tremendous fun. 

 @jellison22

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