With over 30 years of experience, trend analyst Christine Boland is the expert in discerning relevant currents in consumer behaviour. Exclusively for FashionUnited she gives a summary of the winter 22-23 edition of her renowned bi-annual Design Language analysis: SYMBIOTIC SCENARIOS.
The continuing insecurity engendered by the pandemic is driving people apart. Opposing ‘camps’ continue to form, crystallising around varying opinions and ideas. As a result, everything is geared to turning the tide. It’s time we stop demonising those with whom we do not agree, start listening more closely to each other and start building bridges again. Reuniting us with the people and the environment around us. Design, as always, serves up some pretty impressive examples of this need. Everywhere we see extremes harmoniously merging. Such as cultivated and wild, indigenous and modern, technology and craft, science and senses, realism and surrealism, female and forceful, fairy and scary, intellect and intuition, body and mind.
For winter 2022-23 this comes together in four predominant themes or so-called ‘SYMBIOTIC SCENARIOS’:
#1 SURVIVING THE ANTHROPOCENE
The Anthropocene is the era in which the earth’s atmosphere and climate started to register the impact of human activity. At the moment it’s reaching a critical tipping point, with the Covid pandemic as the ultimate example. We are asking too much from Mother Earth; overconsumption, pollution, deforestation, loss of biodiversity. A mutual, beneficial cyclical partnership in which man works in tandem with nature is urgently required. As a result the design language is all about protection, utility, survivalism and recycling.
Within this trend the most important style aspects to take home are: hightech but refined designs, nomad, gypsy and cavemen-like silhouettes with lots of layering, geology inspired knits and (denim) dye effects, details and fabrics drawn from utility and survival wear, organic stripe patterns, tech/sport fabrics mixed with feminine prints and the use of pre-owned repurposed fabrics (patchwork).
Colourwise it’s all about natural mud, stone, grass and autumn leaf colours with brighter flashes of viridis green, ochre and brick tones.
#2 TRANSCENDING LIMITATIONS
We’re moving from a ‘digital’ world to a phygital’ world, where digital and physical come together. With blurring boundaries between time and place, real or rendered. Whichever direction you look, this parallel world of augmented reality, mixed reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence stretches to an unlimited universe. Travis Scott’s live virtual concert within the game Fortnite and Cardi B’s polished campaign for Reebok are great examples. There’s an explosion of creativity, where designers are creating dreamscapes.
The style features that characterize this trend are: gradient, sheer and shiny fabrics and effects with a major role for silver and titanium, retro-futurism in patterns with art deco and 60’s inspired prints, blobby volumes: puffed and padded, and sculpted silhouettes polished to perfection beyond the limitations of reality.
The key colours are retro screen colours and translucent tones, all with a cool undertone such as lavender, frosted blue, greyish jade, sea-green, violet and French blue contrasted by cloud white, black and a light mahogany.
#3 UNLEASH FEMALE FORCE
We are transitioning towards a more feminine era. Many developments and events in society illustrate this; just look at all the recently appointed female prime ministers in Northern Europe. A more feminine way of doing things will become the accepted norm, moving from purpose focused to process focused, from confrontation to compassion and from individualism to holism and inclusivity. In design language we see a new beauty, challenging the stereotypes. A lot of invisible female force, full of mysticism and romanticism.
The most apparent style elements within this trend: delicate yet strong structures and materials: chiffon, pleats and ruffles with sharp tailoring or leather, dramatic darks x delicate whites, Victorian inspired artworks, punked-up lace, redesigned florals, opinion prints and feminized re-interpretation of historic design classics.
As for the colour palette it’s all about feminin hues with a mystic undertone: midnight blues, muted petrol, fiery reds and carmine pink with saturated brights in the form of soft pink, apricot and coral.
#4 INTEGRATING SCIENCE & SENSES
The pandemic’s capricious unpredictability has shaken us to the very core. Cast down between hope and insecurity, we have drifted off balance. To recalibrate and return back on course we are seeking sanctuary and comfort in our own homes and wellbeing is our number one top of mind topic. Braincare and brainhealth is increasingly important and is now intertwined in fashion, fabrics and interior design. Resulting in a design language which serves as a visual yoga and with a lot of invisible integrated technology.
It’s style characteristics are: soothing shapes, silhouettes, fabrics and colours such as fluid pyjama-style suits, airy volumes, soft and highly tactile materials (satin, knits, down and chenille), blanket and plaid inspired designs, gradients and endless rhythmic linear effects with pleats and line play.
The key colours are delicate, soft and harmonious. Think of sandy tones and powder make-up colours such as soft pinks, golds, lilacs, clay and terracotta. Darker tones are reserved to pine green and reddish brown.
Stay tuned for the upcoming FW22 trend webinar, soon available to FashionUnited readers!