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The Report

What We Learnt At Fashion Week

Short shorts, boiler suits and a fanfare for Fendi – all the trends from the spring-summer runways

  • Fendi’s SS18 show. Photograph by IMAXTREE

“New opportunities – you have to be there and grab them with optimism,” Ms Silvia Venturini Fendi said after her homerun show in Milan last month. Her words could have been the tagline for an SS18 season of renewed confidence and ideas. Around the fashion capitals, designers proposed new dress codes for a new generation of businessmen, from Mr Demna Gvasalia’s leisure daddies at Balenciaga to Dries Van Noten’s mundane romanticists, and Mr Haider Ackermann’s louchely casual gents at Berluti. Bar the boiler suit and short shorts, which made strident returns, this was a menswear season of pragmatism, realness and, as Ms Fendi noted, optimism. Gone was the need for dreamy escapism. In its place were rational proposals for a new look, for a new generation, for a new time. “To live in the global world, you have to have your own identity,” said Mr Pierpaolo Piccioli at his Valentino show. “When you’re born, you don’t have awareness of yourself, but to be with others there’s a moment when you have to define your identity. I think in this moment in time it’s super important to have your own identity, and we all come from different cultures.”

So, what will your identity be next spring? MR PORTER unpicks the seams of the key tropes and standout trends to choose from.

Daddies are stylish, too

  • Balenciaga. Photograph by WWD/REX Shutterstock

Who’s the daddy? The question found new relevance for SS18 as Balenciaga staged a father-and-son outing in the leafy Bois de Boulogne in Paris. This was the corporate man off duty, with all the dad jeans and weekend blazers that make up his mundane leisure wardrobe. “I think it’s so beautiful to see young dads with a child,” said Balenciaga’s (possibly broody?) designer Mr Demna Gvasalia after his show. “It’s so hopeful and so positive.” But true to his always-subversive approach, this wasn’t your usual walk in the park. Demna’s denim soon morphed into leather, and slogans such as “Speedhunter” appeared on tops. “This dad is quite rock ’n’ roll,” Mr Gvasalia explained with a wink. “He used to do a lot before he got kids.”

Shorts are long and short

  • Left: Fendi. Photograph by firstVIEW. Centre: Lanvin. Right: Louis Vuitton. Photographs by IMAXTREE

Consider it the zenith of the so-called athleisure trend that has transformed menswear over recent years: the return of short shorts, a phenomenon some would remember from the 1980s (and others would have chosen to forget). At the SS18 shows they were back and shorter than ever, at Dior Homme, Fendi, Prada and Louis Vuitton. Even Dries Van Noten, normally so Flemish and polite, embraced the hazardous shortness. But for those of us planning on something more wearable, there was plenty of action below the belt, so to speak. Nearly all those same brands had a knee-length hemline in their repertoire, as did Lanvin, where the skater shorts very much proved that length still matters.

Sandals are made for walking

  • Zegna. Photograph by IMAXTREE

Mr Tom Ford once said he wouldn’t be caught dead in flip-flops and decreed that a man should certainly never wear them in the city. All the more reason for booking a beach holiday after acquiring his brilliantly bling SS18 gold chain-embellished sliders. Around the men’s collections, boys continued the free-the-toe campaign of last summer’s shows, elevating old faithfuls such as the Velcro health sandal, which received the embellishment treatment at Ermenegildo Zegna (above) and Louis Vuitton. The pool slide shuffled on at Fendi, where the footwear spelled out the house’s logo in big relief, while the slick, black versions at Berluti could almost have passed for a city shoe (could city slides be a SS19 trend in the making?). And surely, even Mr Ford would have to give into Hermès’ strappy leather number.

Palettes should be painterly

  • Dries Van Noten. Photographs by firstVIEW (left and centre) and IMAXTREE

When the Dries Van Noten press notes, sent out before the show, list colours such as “coffee”, “mustard”, “mocha”, “mayonnaise”, “mousse” and “sorbet”, you question whether we’ve accidentally landed in Paris Food Week. The shades did, however, perfectly sum up the chalky palette, which painted the SS18 men’s show like a Cézanne landscape. At Berluti, powder blue and golden sand sprung out of a largely off-white collection, while at Lanvin and Thom Browne, 50 shades of “mushroom, dove grey, smoke and cement”, were in evidence, and they all happened to be a part of those Dries Van Noten notes as well. “It’s about simple clothes, but playing with the colours,” Mr Van Noten said of his most minimalistic collection ever, and this was all about turning up the tones.

Stripes should be slimming

  • Left: Thom Browne. Photograph by IMAXTREE. Centre: Marni. Photograph by firstVIEW. Right: Ermenegildo Zegna. Photograph by IMAXTREE

Among the oldest sartorial tips in the book is that horizontal stripes will make you bigger, vertical slimmer. But the SS18 collections, rich on those forgiving vertical strips, proved that there’s much more to the stripe game than that. At Ermenegildo Zegna, designer Mr Alessandro Sartori added depth to his vertical stripes on sweaters, effectively creating an optical illusion of sorts. The idea was echoed at Thom Browne and Haider Ackermann, where the designer tested the vertical limits in garments featuring different stripe proportions, or in all stripe-on-stripe outfits in autostereogram-like concoctions. Marni’s new designer Mr Francesco Risso brought the vertical stripe back to its preppy roots, embracing a college boating look that was less trippy on the eye.

Bigger is better

  • Left: Issy Miyake. Photograph by firstVIEW. Centre: Balenciaga. Right: Giorgio Armani. Photographs by IMAXTREE

Just as we’ve spent the past 15 years skinnyfying our wardrobes with slender tailoring, SS18 comes along and knocks us out of shape – or rather, into a new shape. From Milan to Paris, designers cut a wider figure, expanding trousers and oversizing jackets to the max. Dior Homme introduced a sculptural flare, while at Giorgio Armani trousers were boxy and straight-cut. It was a resounding feature at Dries Van Noten, where oversize jackets ranged from the super-long to super-wide, just like Balenciaga’s play on proportions. Make no mistake, though, the new volume isn’t merely supersized, but expertly tailored for increased elegance.

Boiler suits have reached boiling point

  • Prada. Photograph by IMAXTREE

After her show, Ms Miuccia Prada said she wanted to design a collection that was “simply human”. It materialised in the practical: knee-high socks, bum bags and, indeed, the boiler suit. It poses its own issues, but while we spend the next six months figuring out which event we can wear it to, other than to go paintballing, prepare for the all-in-one revolution. Prada’s were superhero chic, she explained, tapered and belted like an elevated Ghostbuster, worn on their own or under coats like you would a suit. At Issey Miyake, they were oversized and draped, ballooning over belts like a harem costume, while Lanvin’s boiler suit embraced its authentic utilitarian roots, placing it somewhere between fancy construction worker and raver.

We’re wild for windbreakers

  • Left: Marni. Photograph by firstVIEW. Centre: Fendi. Right: Valentino. Photographs by IMAXTREE

Campers and PE teachers, rejoice – you are back in style. The graphic windbreaker got its second wind at the SS18 shows, brought to you by fashion’s ongoing fling with the mundane, as exemplified at Balenciaga where the 1980s classic appeared in an updated oversized representation, its multi-coloured geometric patterns still intact, or at Hermès, where it got the wet-look treatment. Fendi celebrated it in all its retro glory, while Valentino shifted it up, in some jackets replacing the blocks of colour with graphic embellishment, or turning it into leather jackets that had a whiff of Mr Steve McQueen at the racetrack.

Gender fluidity is here to stay

  • Berluti. Photograph by firstVIEW

We’ve grown accustomed to seeing women on the men’s runways. In recent years, many designers have shown their women’s pre-collections with their menswear, occasionally presenting the two as one united message. But SS18 gave us something new to think about. At Mr Haider Ackermann’s second Berluti show, an epic fashion moment took place, courtesy of Mr Finnlay Davis and Ms Stella Tennant, who walked the imposing courtyard runway side by side in matching sweeping leather coats, black tops and white trousers. It was his and hers, Mr Ackermann-style – a message for a gender bi-neutral new world order? Ask Mr Raf Simons, who showed some of his menswear on female models. You had to zoom in on the pictures afterwards to notice, and perhaps that was his point made.

Fendi is first among equals

  • Fendi. Photograph by Sipa/REX Shutterstock

Every so often, one show will come along to rule them all. It’s the show that has all the components to sum up the season: the pieces, the cuts, the colours and the mood. For SS18, Fendi was it. “It’s the idea that you can work wherever you are,” Ms Silvia Venturini Fendi said backstage. “I was fascinated with this Skype look everybody has. You’ll be wearing slippers or shorts, and then you put on a tie when you have to go on a Skype call.” Her collection was a uniform for a new generation of professionals: sporty, lightweight and slouchy tailoring, slip-on duster coats, shirts and loosely tied ties worn with leather jackets and short shorts, and all the dusty, painterly colours which formed the season’s dreamiest palette. “There are many changes,” said Ms Fendi. “You have young kids that become multi-billion-dollar companies in a few years. The attitude is changing. I think our lives are changing. New jobs are coming, many old jobs are vanishing. New opportunities – you have to be there and grab them with optimism.”