Classic styles are back for autumn-winter

Autumn-winter collections focus on revamped classics, bold prints and hour-glass shapes, writesDivia Harilela

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 August, 2012, 12:19pm

There is nothing prissy or fussy about this year's autumn-winter collections. From sleek architectural shapes to bold, primary colours, this season is all about enhancing your wardrobe with a few choice items to spice things up.

The focus is on buying fewer pieces that are made to last, and many trends from last season reappear in the autumn collections but in new permutations. Top of the list is the much-loved peplum, which is essential to create autumn's hourglass silhouette. Ruffled versions appear on Lanvin's tailored dresses in bold colours such as green and red.

The sporty jumper continues to be a favourite, but is given new life with textures such as fur and patterns. New additions include thick cable knits at Ralph Lauren and Derek Lam, complex patterns and colourful collages as seen at Chloé and Chanel. Match them with patterned trousers or skirts for a fun look. Also stock up on fitted turtlenecks, which appeared at Alexander Wang and Dries Van Noten - it's the perfect item for layering this season.

Versatile separates abound, but in new cuts, fabrics and colours. Skirts make a comeback with feminine, flounced hems (see Stella McCartney) or clean, A-line shapes. For a more daring look, they were worn over cropped trousers as seen at Prada.

If skirts aren't for you, there were plenty of trousers. Slouchy mannish styles took centre stage at Chloé, Etro and Proenza Schouler, where they were matched with high-necked blouses tucked into waistbands or sweaters. Drop crotch shapes, silky jodhpurs and fitted cropped versions are on offer at Bottega Veneta and Yves Saint Laurent. Tuxedos appear in almost every collection, with one-piece versions a popular choice.

The hottest look, however, is the patterned trouser suit. The more eccentric the better, from Miu Miu's geometric shapes and Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren's checks to Diane Von Furstenberg's polka dots. If going head-to-toe seems too much, translate the look into real life by matching a patterned item with something plain such as a white shirt or blazer.

Once the temperature drops, expect cover-ups to take centre stage. If you are looking to invest in a new coat, go for a style that is oversized and in a bright colour or pastel. Comme des Garçons' XXL red coat morphs into a cape while Jil Sander's tailored styles hark back to Grace Kelly. Military elements also appeared on jackets at Gucci and pea coats at Altuzarra.

Colours and prints are key in updating classics this season. Go back to basics with vibrant primary colours. Other must-have shades include burgundy and oxblood red, which is taken to a new level worn with black. Purple and green were popular at brands such as Christopher Kane.

While spring was all about pretty florals, autumn takes a cooler turn. Florals look tougher thanks to dark colours - see Prabal Gurung and Erdem's cool, edgy prints. At Alexander McQueen, floral embellishments covered bell-shape dresses. Monochromatic prints also create an elegant look, while quirky patterns add fun. Burberry Prorsum decorated its sweaters with owls, while Prada went for dizzy shapes. Digital prints are still going strong - top favourites include Oscar de la Renta's printed jewel dresses.

In terms of fabrics, leather rules. Forget rock'n'roll or S&M get-ups, because autumn is all about the sophisticated lady. Swap your biker jackets for paper thin leather tees or fitted dresses and skirts as seen at Céline. At Fendi and Mugler, leather came stamped with crocodile scales for a luxe look, while Valentino's was cut to resemble lace. If you don't want to wear black, try colour.

As with anything in fashion, the devil is in the details. It was all about embellishments in the form of opulent fabrics such as brocade (which appeared in black and gold at Dolce & Gabbana and grey and silver at Marc Jacobs) or jacquard which decorated Stella McCartney's jumpers. Velvet was fashioned into trouser suits at Gucci.

For a more futuristic look, try Yves Saint Laurent's chainmail dresses or Alexander Wang's laser cut mesh separates.

Louis Vuitton and Prada featured jackets and trousers with gobstopper-size crystals while Donatella Versace covered her dresses with bejewelled crosses. Some designers did away with necklaces altogether, preferring to sew on jewels onto necklines or collars instead. Whatever bling you choose, make sure it's big and bold.