As Miranda Priestly might say: Florals? For fall? Groundbreaking! Next season’s fashions are bursting with heavy petalwork, romantic prints, and artisanal styles. Break out the big earrings and the tiaras. (Yes, tiaras.)
Did you feel that? The ground beneath us is shifting. It has been for some time, ever since we blurred the noun-verb divide with things like Instagram and Snapchat, and smart-screens stole our gaze. But fall 2016 was the season we realized we were dealing with a tectonic-level transition. Social media has so stoked consumers’ desire for immediacy, were in-season presentations the way to go? Would that be the way to keep the public excited, and to avoid the apparent ennui from the six-month gap between runway hype and store arrival?
The chain reaction began when, days before New York Fashion Week, Burberry declared it would embrace in-season shows in the fall. Sure, Rebecca Minkoff had announced something similar in December, and designers had long been introducing transitional styles on the runways; but now a behemoth of a brand was making the official move. As the season continued, more and more designers began including styles that were available for sale right away: Michael Kors, Proenza Schouler, Rag & Bone, Prada, Moschino.
Then the City of Light slammed the brakes. In a reverse stance from the Council of Fashion Designers of America and the British Fashion Council, the Fédération Française de la Couture declared non! Paris would keep the status quo. (Courrèges and Paco Rabanne included shoppable runway selects anyway.)
There were other question marks as well. For instance: Who’s filling the open spots at Dior and Lanvin? Is this Hedi Slimane’s last show for Saint Laurent? And was he, according to the rumor mill, really headed for that storied French house?
Another major topic of conversation: the push-pull between the commercial and the creative, which piggybacked on all of the above. An impressive digital imprint is great, but what if the vision and the emotions get lost in the noise? What matters more—appealing to the widest audience or to the right one for your brand? Merch or magic? Both?
Spoiler alert: We’re still in a state of flux. Nothing is certain. Except for the Lanvin head count: Bouchra Jarrar will be stepping into Alber Elbaz’s shoes. Also, Slimane is indeed out at YSL. And this: Come September, you’ll see trends ranging from flou and florals to artisanal and au naturel. Here, we break them down.
Earrings with 25.27 cts. t.w. rubies and multicolor sapphires and 0.29 ct. t.w. pavé diamonds in 14k gold and rhodium; $3,650; J/Hadley, NYC; 212-868-0065; jhadleyjewelry.com
Headpiece with hand-carved amethyst and rock crystal in gold with diamond pavé; price on request; Alice Cicolini at Valery Demure, London; email@example.com; alicecicolini.com
Last year, when then–virtual unknown Alessandro Michele picked up the creative reins at Gucci, few could have predicted the considerable influence this Jesus-haired bohemian would exert. And whatever spare, minimalist path Phoebe Philo had paved with Céline, it’s now exuberantly cluttered with magpie pilings of dizzying, colorful, patterned, textured stuff.
It’s not enough to just have prints—they’re delightfully mashed up, like the wallpaper floral against wallpaper floral at Erdem. Animal prints are abundant, especially the skin of the season, leopard—seen variously at Givenchy, Cushnie et Ochs, and Mugler. And all you romantics: Now is the time to shamelessly revel in femininity, girlishness, decadence, glamour, and froth, because the fall runways were one big burst of pretty. A slew of smaller motifs tumbled from this overarching sensibility, too—ruffles, velvets, lace, lingerie, vintage Victoriana, exploding blooms, and dark seduction among them.
The result is much inspiration to mine for the jewelry industry. There was sparkle aplenty: glorious gems uninhibited in their extravagance, from Gucci and Simone Rocha to Alexander McQueen (where fairy tale met Goth) and Dolce & Gabbana (inspired by actual Disney fairy tales). Flora was amply represented—both bold (Rodarte’s remarkable petaled bijoux) and subdued (the fern brooches at Lela Rose)—and heirloom, estate styles as well, best seen at Tommy Hilfiger and Peter Pilotto. And if there ever were a sign that fall 2016 was a season for romantic reverie, it’s this: Tiaras and bejeweled hairpieces are having a renaissance, served up at Marchesa, McQueen, Valentino, Sonia Rykiel, and others.
Then there were the pearls, a heavyweight trend. Designers such as Jason Wu and Joseph Altuzarra used them with restraint—just an opalescent hint here and there. Rag & Bone treated the classic single-strand pearl necklace, that ultimate signifier of ladylike chic, as a point-counterpoint to its overtly sporty and street-wise offerings. But the season’s most thrilling takes came in Paris, where Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld practically blanketed his models in demonstrative ropes of the pearly stuff, and Dries Van Noten treated us to one beguiling variant after another: pearl pins, pearl embroideries, trompe l’oeil pearl prints, pearl mesh garments, pearl-patterned hosiery, and pearl-covered heels.
And in true maximalist spirit, there were the designers who approached their decorative touches with an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink mindset, like Miuccia Prada, who crafted audacious jewelry from a hodgepodge of motifs: keys, tiny leather-bound books, hoops, roses, crescent moons.
Pearl de Fleur bracelet with Swarovski crystals on gunmetal chain; £201 ($288); Mawi, London; firstname.lastname@example.org; mawi.co.uk
Nur earrings in 18k gold with 0.04 ct. t.w. diamonds; $3,900; Boaz Kashi, Tel Aviv; email@example.com; boazkashi.com
THE NEW ZONES
Fashion pop quiz: What do Marie Antoinette and Manet’s Olympia have to do with grunge kids and Britney Spears (the Kevin Federline years)? Chokers. They’re coming back in a major way. What makes the style so versatile is that it can project any number of moods: Just check out the disparate shows from Nina Ricci (bourgeois sexy), Rihanna’s Fenty x Puma (Goth), Zimmermann (tribal), and Prabal Gurung (Victorian throwback). For every trend, there’s a choker to match.
Earrings also had a big moment. The long, north-south silhouette reigned—from extended gemstone drops to waterfall fringe. In a season of bulging shapes and shoulders, cozy layering, proportion plays, and super-long sleeves (yes, that’s actually a trend), the swinging ear-level action adds a dash of allure and fun. As Larkspur & Hawk’s Emily Satloff notes, “movement makes everything sparkle more.”
It’s a thought that came to mind watching the models stalk the runway at Narciso Rodriguez, where the flashes of silver from earrings designed by Ana Khouri provided a perfect complement to his fluid dresses. Then again at Salvatore Ferragamo—the industrial glints were a cool contrast to the collection’s explosion of color. And again at Valentino; the graceful danglers fit right in with the ballet inspiration.
Massive statement styles were popular too, including Maison Margiela’s Matisse-like designs and Balenciaga’s starburst clusters. More curious is the new trend of doing away with “pairs” of earrings. (And we’re not talking about the solo earring, though that was everywhere too, from Anthony Vaccarello to Baja East.) Designers made mismatching chic and, as seen at Dior, piled on the frippery, helter-skelter, from the curve of the ear down to the lobe. “Women are looking at new ways of wearing jewelry,” says jewelry and accessories consultant Valery Demure. “It is becoming more playful, more carefree. There are less rules.”
Kifahari bangle set in bronze, horn, and bone; $895; Ashley Pittman, Dallas; 214-764-0897; ashleypittman.com
Gold-plated brass earrings with onyx and cocobolo rosewood; $290; Lizzie Fortunato, NYC; 212-777-1008; lizziefortunato.com
It says something when heavy hitters Lagerfeld and Slimane dial it back to the way things were, back to the couture era. Lagerfeld, instead of his usual Chanel spectacle, turned his space into a couture salon with a front-row seat—and a so-close-you-could-reach-out-and-touch-the-clothes view—for everyone; Slimane, meanwhile, went so far as to have each look called out in silence, like in the old YSL days (“exit one, exit two”), by the very same woman who did so for M. Saint Laurent himself. In a time when the industry is progressing at a blistering pace and everyone wants to be one step ahead of the digital game, these gestures spoke volumes. The message is…to…simply…slow…down. Get a feel for the clothes, the construction, the petites mains behind it, like you never could on a screen.
It’s a statement designers telegraphed in other ways as well. Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, for instance, were inspired by the process of design rather than the end result, citing artists such as Richard Serra as a starting point. They gave us a refined take on deconstruction—exposed lace-up details, patchwork knits—that was echoed elsewhere, from A.V. Robertson to Yang Li. Open stitching and raw seams are welcome, beautifully shredded and spliced garments embraced.
So how does this translate to the jewelry set? In artisanal pieces, where you can really see the mark of the individual behind it. “Handcrafted, soulful lines seem to be on the rise,” Demure says. “I think it has to do with the ‘moral crisis’ we are going through right now globally. Artisanal lines feel right, gentle, human. They feel good to invest in; they feel safe.”
You can also take a page from McCollough and Hernandez, who accessorized their models with crafty earrings incorporating chunks of pyrite, quartz, and tiger’s eye. Plenty of other designers worked the earthy, organic mood: Bottega Veneta and Van Noten had gorgeous necklaces collaged from semiprecious stones; Marni, fantastically bold wood earrings; and Pyer Moss—styled by songstress Erykah Badu—wild boar tusk pendants from Ugo Cacciatori.
But nothing stole the au naturel spotlight this fall better than agate. Slices of that stone appeared everywhere, from Chris Gelinas, Elie Saab, and Alexis Mabille to, most prominently, Calvin Klein, where they even dotted the clothes themselves. Céline’s Philo, for her part, may not have used actual agates, but her oversize slabs for earrings certainly channeled the look; she’s another one who name-checked “process” in discussing her inspirations.
Labradorite flat ax-head necklace in 18k yellow gold; $5,200; Dean Harris, NYC; firstname.lastname@example.org; deanharrisjewelry.com
Designers also evoked the less precious mode of bijoux with metals. Its most exaggerated form was the most amusing as well: safety pins. We saw them strung into necklaces at Céline and Ji Oh, and boosted into dramatic earrings at Balenciaga, Vionnet, and Rykiel; Isabel Marant had them as decorative pins and adopted their cubicle cousin, the paper clip, for dangly earrings. The beauty of this humble look: Style them so, and their elegant simplicity quickly veers into rebellious street-chic turf—another trend of the season.
“There’s a return to rock ’n’ roll punk, spikes, studs, leather, patent, chains,” Demure notes. Alexander Wang went all out with piercing-like hardware and belted chokers, while others tempered the chain-link attitude with a touch of the pretty, à la Versace. As for the abundant modernist metalwork on the runways, the look plays well into the athleisure movement, says Demure. And la vie sportive pulses ever strong. The collections were filled with puffers, plus countless upmarket takes on hoodies, bombers, and tracksuits—a trend that Roseanne Morrison, fashion director of The Doneger Group, calls ’80s Active. “Even Vuitton revived the sweatshirt,” she says. Demna Gvasalia’s debut for Balenciaga no doubt gave sporty casualness an extra shot of couture polish, too.
Giulia resin choker; $250; Pono, NYC; email@example.com; ponobyjoangoodman.com
LAST BUT NOT LEAST
Back to that chatter about whether to align the show system with deliveries—see-now, buy-now, and all that. Does this affect the jewelry sector, since it runs on a different, and more seasonless, schedule? In a way, yes, because we’re all dressing the same customer with a growing appetite for immediacy. And according to Demure, you can find the answer in “direct-to–consumer, bespoke enquiries, and customization.
“They’re appealing to clients who ‘have it all’ or are bored by the market’s sameness,” she continues. “More and more consumers go straight to the source. You can easily order your own unique piece of jewelry and have it within four to six weeks.”
Harris necklace: Photograph by David Kressler