It's happened again. Yet another pre-collection has had a decisive impact on commercial orders, and our upcoming wardrobes. Because, believe it or not, designers, editors and other fashion aficionados are now not one but two steps ahead, with the phenomenon of pre-collections being the biggest symptom of the ever-growing fashion-forward madness. Think of a "pre-co" as a fashionable foretaste, a season in between the seasons that helps determine future trends and what a customer might want to buy in the next few months.
As recent reports show, pre-collections are now a strategic pawn in the fashion industry's chess game, making up to 50 per cent of a buyer's order per label per season.
In this sense, the pre-autumn 2013 showcased eye-popping style elements that are also likely to be newly interpreted for the upcoming winter wardrobe. This pre-autumn, designers agreed on the necessity to emphasise a boyish attitude in womenswear with various interpretations of masculinity, ranging from tailoring deconstructed with casual active-wear, an emphasis set on boxy and exaggeratedly flared cuts, a punky, mishmash take on silhouettes. Prints and embroideries are often magnified in order to conquer the entire surface of the garment - recurrent patterns being tartan and fantasy prints. There was also an emphasis on primary red, emerald green and sky blue for pre-autumn, and plenty of chunky knits and tweeds next to quilts and leather-working techniques.
Chanel set the tone with the punk-wave trend that has been making its mark on the runways, also spotted at Alexander McQueen, Preen, Gucci and Valentino. Chanel's creative director Karl Lagerfeld created loose cut silhouettes with Scottish tartans and plaid wools and prints worn in a dramatically oversized fits. The debut of Chanel's collection in Edinburgh reflected the mythical highland tone Lagerfeld was going for. Something about the heavy layering, the Victorian edge, the kilt-motives on jumpers and vagabond-like quilted long skirts paired with used-look leather boots screamed for attention: this collection turned chic tailoring upside down.
This punk attitude was also popular in Givenchy's offerings. There was a jungle feel here, depicted through magnified animal prints on ensembles, similar to Giambattista Valli and Burberry Prorsum who opted for full animal looks. On his side, Riccardo Tisci played it with a too-cool-for-school attitude, elaborating his animal prints in Rorschach-like patterns that mimicked camouflage and pairing them with manly, rigid tailoring. Tisci was all about taming the animal through clean, sometimes asymmetrical lines.
Bold prints and patterns were also elements that the Kenzo designer duo enjoyed working on. Carol Lim and Humberto Leon proposed a womenswear silhouette that matched their latest menswear collection. They re-used their faux-camouflage print made out of stormy cloud patterns on round blouson jackets, wrap coats and high-wasted carrot pants next to boxy tops and A-line skirts, in red, pastel pink, ecru and blue hues. That said, their outfits were softened with bold ruffle trimmings, the ones that inspired Kenzo Takada in his celebrated 1970s "Jungle Jap" collections - it was a way of paying homage to the brand's identity, taking it to another, more edgy level.
Then there were the beautiful minimalists showcasing monochromatic outfits in pastel hues, opting for "the bigger, the better" approach when it came to tailoring, as seen by Bottega Veneta, Rochas and Stella McCartney. Forget about skin-tight cocktail dresses, Bottega Veneta's pre-autumn collection has fallen for the impeccably cut black smoking jacket and oversized coats paired with long, slouchy trousers - almost as if Marlene Dietrich is bidding us hello.
Bottega's head designer Tomas Maier opted for a sophisticated double-breasted tuxedo paired with effortless flared parachute pants - a silhouette that could serve both for the office and a walk in the park. Then there were his silky salmon and dusty-pink ensembles, always high-waisted, with a nod to Japanese kimono tops and jackets, and lengthened pleated suit trousers.
Let's not forget that pre-autumn can also be an opportunity for newcomers to make their mark: Former Cacharel designer, Cédric Charlier, pursued boyish tailoring in his own distinctive way. Yes, one could find the eye-popping pastels and flashy hues spotted at other labels, but they were combined with colour-blocking and accentuated by vibrant flowery embroideries on cropped pants and bodycons, reminiscent of Flemish paintings - a clear reference to Charlier's Belgian origins. Then some chunky bouclé vests brought a soft and fluffy feeling to the manly edginess.
The forecasting power of these mid-season collections has not always been granted, for pre-collections have been through quite a metamorphosis in the past few decades. Initially created for a jet-setting elite, as small, mid-seasonal wardrobes meant for luxurious vacations, now these highly commercialised collections are proposing trendy, slightly more affordable fashion items for restless shoppers who just can't handle the lull of a seasonal gap.
Let's say that this season's pre-autumn just loved to mess with contrasts. firstname.lastname@example.org