Well that was something. As the first big post-pandemic season, not only are fashion weeks back in a physical format, but we're sensing new and exciting shifts in clothes and the way they're shown. We've all had plenty of time in lockdown to ponder industry caveats, and while a single season could hardly address everything, there are some very good ideas to drive us forward. While London remained hybrid, the return of most physical shows in Paris, Milan and New York reminded us that there is really no substitute to seeing each other and feeling shows in person. High energy shows stimulated the senses, resulting in statement-making looks to ultimately drive business. Here, we'll explore the moments and trends that defined the return of physical fashion weeks for Spring 22.
FashionUnited & FASHION SNOOPS (FS) have partnered to explore important shifts that will impact consumers, as we both believe it is essential to inform you of future inspirations, business shifts and design strategies. In this report, written by Melissa Moylan, VP of Womenswear at FS, we examine A Creative Renaissance Emerges at Spring 22 Fashion Weeks.
Luxury brands triumphantly returned to physical catwalks offering much more than a parade of models in new looks. Always the intellectual, Miuccia Prada together with Raf Simons presented their collection for Prada simultaneously in Milan and Shanghai, with each event sharing the other's livestream on screens. It was a clever way to extend global reach and accessibility through technology - a true indicator of the times we're living in. And speaking of duality, no one would have guessed the buzzy merging of Fendi and Versace for a 'design off' collaboration. A cross-over of iconic looks from the Italian houses made for quite the spectacle and amusing moniker, Fendace.
But the concept - or concepts - that really challenged the notion of what a fashion show is or could be, was Demna Gvasalia's "show" for Balenciaga. Produced unknowingly by all attendees photographed on a Hollywood-style red carpet, Balenciaga models were interspersed between editors, clients and celebrities like Cardi B. The images were then projected on a large screen in the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris as the ultimate groundbreaking event of fashion month. It was fash-entertainment at its finest, only elevated by the subsequent Simpsons/Balenciaga film in which Marge and iconic Simpsons characters glimmered down the catwalk to much fanfare. By infusing pop culture through a digital format, Gvasalia effectively reinvented the notion of a traditional fashion show, adding much-needed humor and entertainment. While the clothes were also on point, the energetic relevance of these new formats will land especially with younger generations.
On another high note, Spring 22 collections were an explosion of color and glam, with designers clearly looking to uplift the post-pandemic spirit. Saturated, energetic brights including spritz orange, power pink, green and lemon-lime tap into the notion of product as a mood booster. Color remains a key merchandising strategy that spans all product classifications and creates maximal impact for both day and night looks. And when it comes to evening assortments, it's clear that designers fully anticipate a return to occasions in which to dress up for. In fact, the dress classification is on a major rebound this season with plenty of lavish styles to choose from. Fendi's disco glam collection comes to mind as a feel-good celebratory look, while countless designers featured a plethora of embellishment ranging from sequins to fringe. Whether by vivid color or novelty eveningwear, designers are betting on statement pieces with an optimistic attitude.
BRINGING SEXY BACK
On the topic of stepping out and standing out, one of the biggest messages of the season is sexy dressing. It's a wide-spanning silhouette direction that isn't always rooted to a particular theme, although Y2K definitely has some influence. In short, this is all about skin on show and designs that exemplify that, especially cutouts that land on erogenous zones like the clavicle, torso or back. Micro mini skirts are a big part of the conversation thanks once again to Miuccia Prada who featured the style out in force at Prada and Miu Miu, the latter of which were the shortest of the season. Body con dresses also make a comeback as well as long and slender column shapes. Exposed midriffs are most certainly a part of this look too, with of crop and bra tops and aligned with the Y2K aesthetic. No matter how it's done, it's clear that sexy is the new empowerment for all body shapes and sizes.
Handicraft sits a little quieter than the aforementioned trends, but its impact is far-reaching with the potential to influence well beyond this season. Gabriela Hearst at the helm of Chloé and her bespoke label is a purveyor of craftsmanship and sustainability. For Spring 22, she introduced the Chloé Craft symbol to designate items that showcase the work of independent artisans. What resulted were looks that leveraged deadstock fabrics and even jewelry, as well statement macrame and fringe styles. Elsewhere, Ulla Johnson featured hand-dyed shibori and craft details, and Altuzarra highlighted must-have crochet tops. With more designers tapping into handicraft, the touch of human hands and sustainable practices is something to embrace and aspire to.
Ultimately, Spring 22 celebrated the return of physical fashion weeks with fresh ideas that we expect will resonate with consumers. The most buzzworthy shows did their part by engaging everyone in conversation over the sheer novelty of the unexpected. Bright colors rejuvenated spirits and sexy dressing provided a liberating silhouette shift and a good reason to go out again. While in many ways we're in a rebuilding phase, designers introduced concepts that feel at once dynamic and new, with anticipation for better times ahead.
FS is a global trend forecasting agency helping leading consumer-facing brands around the world unlock innovation and propel growth. Through a combination of human and artificial intelligence, we analyze cultural shifts and interpret detected patterns in order to surface trend-driven business opportunities. Learn more at Fashion Snoops Fashionsnoops.com
All images courtesy of Fashion Snoops.