Autumn/Winter 2016's top-line fashion trends may be wildly different from each other, but they're all supercharged with one major element—creative electricity. That may sound obvious. Of course designers switch things up each and every season to offer new and exciting things, you're thinking, but there's something about the industry right now that's pushing boundaries and offering up new sartorial ground to be stomped upon.
The fashion world is in a major state of flux: The concept of see now, buy now is increasingly important (well, you don't want to wait, do you?), and many designers and super-brands are also rethinking not only how they present their collections but when and to whom.
The old-school fashion calendar or idea of the runway show is being pinched and tweaked into new forms, and this overdue disruption has sparked an inventive energy—one that results in seriously covetable clothes, whether outré and bold or honed to perfection for everyday wear, without scrimping on luxe detailing or points of difference.
Some of the most talked about labels of A/W 16 didn't even have fashion shows. Some buyers are investing heavily in menswear brands for women. Some hyped-up names create limited-edition runs only and are challenging the norm with super-high price points or controversial trends (gigantic shoulder pads, anyone?).
But all fashion editors are in agreement that now is the time to be you—take A/W 16's trends and make them your own. Mix and match if you want to. Wear them head to toe if you want to. If you've always harboured a love for dramatic costuming, now is your time. Or major purists out there who only wear white and black? That's entirely cool too. Don't be afraid to step out of the norm—individualism is seriously on trend.
#1: Surreal Stripes
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Pictured: Salvatore Ferragamo, Max Mara, Fendi
Who doesn't love stripes? But even better than your average Breton, designers have run with the linear look, combining unusual colours, different proportions and textures for a new take this season. Join the bold barcode brigade, we say.
Horizontal stripes are all well and good, but there's plenty of asymmetry, patchwork and contrasting layers going on too. We love Joseph's idea of a knitted striped scarf worn with a sweater and a cardigan—the new print clash, surely.
#2: Elevated Everyday Outfits
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Pictured: Lemaire, Jil Sander, Stella McCartney
You wouldn't exactly call this movement minimalism, but if you can imagine a time when designers are really focused on creating the kind of luxe everyday clothes that do the job simple pieces do—with the added bonus of really interesting pattern cutting, fabrications or details—you're on the right track.
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Not only are subtle statement separates key, so are accessories. We predict this neutral, colour-blocked, knotted-handle shopper from Céline will be a top choice for girls on the go. Grab and run!
Conceptual tailoring is key to this elevated everyday-wear trend for A/W 16. The more you can tie, wrap, loop, fasten and scrunch your tops, trousers, coats, jackets and trousers, the better.
#3: Big Cat Family
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Pictured: Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci, Dolce & Gabbana, Loewe
Cats are officially one of the most Instagrammable things ever, so is it any wonder designers have delved into the world of felines? From literal pussycat prints through to kitty jewellery and reworked classic leopard prints, there's no shortage of ideas to sink your claws into.
You can see the cat trend in action on the street style stars of fashion week here.
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Pictured: Roberto Cavalli, Chanel, Gucci, Dries Van Noten
The ideas for this feline fashion moment stretch far and wide—from tiger-print velvet suits at Cavalli through the jaguar-embellished knitwear at Gucci. A key takeaway trend is also the idea of clashing snake and leopard print together—it works because they're both neutral. You could say it's purrrfect to try now…
Pictured: Moschino, Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini, Lanvin
The 1980s was writ large across the runways of London, Milan and Paris. Power dressing is back, but the lens is predominantly focussed on eveningwear: Spiked stilettos are back in town, as are satin, ruching, oodles of gold jewellery, fishnet tights and asymmetric cuts. Leather and lace, latex and lurex—no after-dark outfit detail is left unadorned or devoid of shimmer.
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Pictured: Saint Laurent
Hedi Slimane's final show at Saint Laurent is the benchmark for '80s cocktail attire. His show was a standout of the Paris Fashion Week schedule, with many commenting it was his best to date. The exaggerated sleeves and arms, set against the teeny-tiny body-hugging silhouettes and gigantic waist-belts, played homage to the most decorative decade of the 20th century, but a more mix-and-match approach felt right for the Instagram generation of today—and of course, the rocker-chic aesthetic he owns brought further edge via punk-infused makeup.
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Pictured: Topshop Unique, Isabel Marant
If that all sounds a bit OTT for you, there were more casual day-to-day takes on '80s fashion, too. Upgrade your blazer collection with something sharp-shouldered, and wear it with that crop top you've had for years, à la Topshop Unique. Or, invest in a pair of Isabel Marant's pointed flat ankle boots—they're set to be the French designer's latest smash hit in the accessory department (as well as those totally retro loop belts).
Arriving in a shocking array of bright hues, velvet is no longer the fabric of dark, romantic, gothic evening-only clothes, but one to be mixed into the most vibrant street styler's daytime wardrobes. You'll find it used in everything from trouser suits to thigh-high boots.
Of course, despite velvet's make-under into daywear, there was plenty of it that felt just perfect for a soirée—from Haider Ackermann's pink velvet skinny pants to Erdem's stunning embroidered velvet cocktail dress. NB: Velvet is particularly good when worn with metallic accessories.