Minnie Muse Fall 2018 Fashion Awards
Twice annually, women’s ready-to-wear collections are presented in New York and Europe. While fashion week has expanded in recent years to include European outposts like Berlin, Stockholm and Copenhagen, and far-off locations such as Tokyo, Seoul, Russia, Kiev, and Australia, the main women’s calendar still follows the traditional show route beginning in New York – in September and February - followed by London, Milan and Paris. The fall/winter 2018 fashion show season just concluded and Minnie Muse is breaking down highlights from a month of collections, grouped by categories such as Best Shoe, Best Handbag, Best Outerwear, Most Un-wearable Looks, Most Unique Trend, Most Artistically-Influenced Set and, of course, Best Collection.
With ‘seasonless’ dressing all the rage, footwear has taken on a similar stride. Prada chose fall/winter 2018 as the perfect opportunity to reissue their iconic flame heels from spring/summer 2012, while Balenciaga released their latest sneaker design following the overwhelming success of the brand’s Triple S, if the immediate buzz is any indication, this new silhouette is sure to garner an equivalent cult following to that of its predecessor. Jonathan Anderson showed lovely zip-front, rubber sole ankle booties at Loewe, an appropriate shoe for all seasons, while Sarah Burton presented beautiful white, high-heeled boots on the runway at Alexander McQueen. The Row’s commanding alligator, delicate heeled, over-the-knee boots made eyes – and feet – swoon, but it was Haider Ackermann’s pastel square toe lace-up satin boots that left us dreaming of the forthcoming fall; living proof that cold weather footwear can be luscious and colorful.
Handbags took on every shape, size and fabrication for fall/winter 2018. The Row expanded on their marvelous accessory repertoire with the introduction of a sensational top handle, carryall bag called The Margaux, in leather and alligator, while Loewe presented a simple, off-white calfskin backpack with three exterior pockets. Louis Vuitton showed a ladylike top handle structured bag with colorful crocodile and metal detailing, while on the smaller side of things, Fendi’s cute mink clutch with its iconic FF logo pattern is sure to be coveted, as is Hermès’s beautiful alligator evening bag, in the shape of an enlarged stud from the brand’s trademark Collier de Chien belt. The standout handbags this season came from Prada’s revival of nylon, a hallmark material of the Italian fashion brand. These padded clutches and tote bags in a variety of fluorescent colors are sure to be staples this coming fall and for countless seasons beyond.
Fall is unquestionably the season for outerwear. In this most recent round of collections, we saw fur blazers at Fendi, cozy shearling at Proenza Schouler, beautiful fall pinks at Hermès, a negligee parka at Maison Margiela, and a fur sanitation jacket at Calvin Klein. Nonetheless, Valentino creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli’s ‘one off’ – or perhaps not – collection for the re-launch of Moncler was sublime. The Italian designer’s reimaging of the puffer jacket in a-line shapes of exaggerated proportions was the outerwear standout of the fall/winter 2018 collections.
Every season there are looks shown down the runways that leave you guessing how anyone, model included, can wear 'that'? Wearable art, some may consider it, or, in perhaps less complex terms, unwearable fashion. Comme des Garçons’s Rei Kawakubo, a purveyor of this concept, believes that fashion show clothing needs not to be either practical, nor functional. The Japanese designer continued her creative quest this season towards fashioning ‘objects for the body’ with sculptural silhouettes – sans armholes - and fabrication techniques akin to the interior stuffing of furniture, while the equally imaginative Thom Browne showed bulbous skirts that mimicked the round shape of the miniature prehistoric figurine loved my many, known as the Venus of Willendorf. Marc Jacobs showed a collection with 80s proportions, echoing the work of Claude Montana and Yves Saint Laurent, on an even more exaggerated scale, while Gucci took the opposite approach, presenting a look that strategically utilized the placement of baroque pasties on a model’s chest. Similarly, Anthony Vaccarello took his shorter-than-short hemlines to new heights at Saint Laurent, showing a mini dress in fur with a collar that had more material than the garment’s skirt. Still, Balenciaga straddled the wearable/un-wearable line thoughtfully though styling. While the final looks of the show piled on outwear, certainly when broken apart, each individual jacket will make for an ideal winter weather coat.
While it’s clear that the 1980s are back in fashion for fall/winter 2018, there were plenty of unique trends to emerge throughout the collections that also took center stage. Ski masks – formally known as Balaclava’s – were seen prominently on the runways of Chanel, Gucci, Calvin Klein and Marni, while two-or-more handbags were a styling trick this season, seen throughout the collections of Maison Margiela, Marc Jacobs, Celine, Carven, Coach and Loewe, amongst many others. Designers were feeling utility-wear for fall, seen in the nylon garments and ID-badges at Prada, sanitation jackets and jumpsuits at Calvin Klein, utilitarian cuts at Alexander McQueen and the clip-compass key chains on models’ belts at French fashion brand Etudes. Synthetic fluorescent fringe was the fabric of the season, presented in different variations at Gucci, Balmain, Paco Rabanne, and Prada – who first showed this material in black for fall/winter 2007, another apt revival! Still, the most distinctive trend of the fall collections was garments sewn atop garments; from the lacey bralettes and delicate bloomers on the exterior of Thom Browne’s dresses and the ornamental strapless bras at Loewe, to the faux tank-tops on lace shirts at Stella McCartney and entire repositioned evening looks at Comme des Garçons, this trend was unique to fall 2018 and deserving of the title.
The fashion world has seen some pretty outlandish sets over the years. From Chanel’s iceberg for fall/winter 2010 to Marc Jacobs’ escalator runway installation by artist Daniel Buren for Louis Vuitton’s spring/summer 2013 collection, and John Galliano’s spring 1998 Dior haute couture show at Paris’s Opera Garnier, set design has taken on a life of its own.
For fall/winter 2018, New York hosted some incredible shows, from the Noguchi sculptures scattered about the runway at The Row, to Raf Simons’ techno dinner party, filled with laser beams and still-life arrangements plucked out of 19th century paintings. In Milan, Gucci presented its latest collection amidst a sterile-looking, futuristic colorful hospital backdrop – akin to Damien Hirst’s 2004 series of hospital paintings – while in Paris, Balenciaga erracted a graffiti-covered boulder à la Dan Colen, and Rodarte shot their collection amidst a Mark Ryden-esque backdrop. Yet, it was Calvin Klein’s set design that was still on everyone’s minds by the end of fashion month, from the show’s popcorn-covered ‘runway’, suspended balls of yarn by artist Sterling Ruby, Andy Warhol silkscreen-covered gigantic wooden structures, and tractor seat stools by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni, all housed within the American Stock Exchange, there was no beating this audacious and artful environment.
Collectively, fall/winter 2018 had a multitude of highlights, but when it comes to a choosing a standout collection, there were a few designers who’s cohesive visions put them levels above the rest. The elevated 70s vibes of New York fashion house Proenza Schouler, who presented their fall collection in Paris back in January during the couture shows, had a lasting effect in the two months following. Milan fashion week saw a phenomenal offering by Prada, elevating and modernizing existing house codes and materials, a continuation in concept from the brand’s self-referential pre-fall presentation back in January. Bold colors, patterns and silhouettes made Balenciaga a highlight collection during the Paris shows, as was the relaxed playfulness of Jonathan Anderson’s collection for Loewe, and the futuristic ladylike ensembles of Louis Vuitton. Still, it was The Row’s sublime couture craftsmanship and bold styling that made our hearts skip a beat. From the Noguchi-filled runway setting, standout accessories, understated silhouettes and lush fabrics, the New York brand’s fully-realized vision was unrivaled by anyone else. Bravo ladies!