Fashion gets in touch with its dark side for autumn-winter 2013

Designers give minimalism the boot for autumn-winter as glamour takes a darker turn

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 26 August, 2013, 9:39am

It's all about contrasts this season. While spring-summer played up lightness, for autumn-winter 2013, fashion is going dark.

Designers proposed a woman of many dissimilitudes, from mid-century ladies to femmes fatales, from punk to grunge queens. But before you start getting the safety pins and beanies out, take note that an element of glamour is still key.

These are not for the faint of heart, as designers have turned towards looks with plenty of attitude, perhaps as a communal backlash against the prim minimalism of past seasons. We've scoured the catwalks for the top five trends to watch:

Rebel with a cause

Thanks to the Metropolitan Museum of Art's "Chaos to Couture" exhibition, punk was on many designers' minds. Although the look means dressing down, there was still a luxe edge thanks to the right details and fabrics.

On the catwalks of Versace, Donatella sent out rock chicks dressed in vinyl trousers, and dresses paired with cashmere and fur. Accessories included heavy metal jewels covered in spikes, nails and bolts.

Another punk staple - leather jackets - were given a cool street vibe at Junya Watanabe where it appeared mixed with houndstooth and denim. Givenchy and Jean Paul Gaultier's black motorcycle jackets came with plenty of zips.

And what's the ultimate punk accessory? Chanel's biker boots draped in chains, naturally.

If channelling the Sex Pistols is too extreme, you can always go grunge. The popular movement from the 1990s was the starting point of Hedi Slimane's collection at Saint Laurent. His version, however, was way more glamorous. Courtney Love wannabes will revel in styles including vintage floral and embellished baby-doll dresses, covered up with slouchy cardigans and tartan flannel shirts. Models even wore diamanté-studded tights.

Mid-century couture

For couture, designers referenced everything from Dior's New Look to film noir and Alfred Hitchcock. And while hourglass shapes and skirts dominated the catwalks of brands such as Gucci, the look was still decidedly modern.

Prada featured coat dresses and full skirt suits with voluminous sleeves and belts around the waist. Rochas became an editor's favourite for its oversized, floral opera coats and pleated skirts. At Dior, swinging jackets came with ribbons tied loosely around the neck while 1950s-style strapless gowns were updated in sexy leather.

There were times when the look bordered on the theatrical. At Undercover, Jun Takahashi's punk-inspired couture pieces included dresses constructed from men's shirt collars.

Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen paid homage to the church with modern nuns, cardinals, popes and angels dressed in elaborate Elizabethan-style embroidered gold and white gowns, accessorised with caged masks and feather jackets.

For something more street-friendly, opt for the mid-length skirt as championed by Phoebe Philo at Céline. Her version, flared below the knee, was matched with a tight band around the shoulders. Très chic.

Girls who like boys

Sometimes it's fun borrowing clothes from your boyfriend's closet. This season's must-have coat is distinctly menswear-inspired, with styles ranging from oversized to double-breasted at brands such as Salvatore Ferragamo and 3.1 Phillip Lim.

At Stella McCartney, tailored blazers came with pinstripes and uneven hems, while her oversized coats had rounded shoulders. Clare Waight Keller at Chloé followed suit, although in a more tomboy fashion, mixing masculine grey leather jogging pants with pinafore details, prom-style dresses and buttoned-up shirts.

Haider Ackermann worked masculine tailoring into sharp feminine silhouettes; this feel was evident in the XL-size, slouchy shapes.

Many designers incorporated traditional menswear fabrics. Tartan was the top choice (thanks in part to the punk trend) at brands such as Moschino, Lanvin and Comme des Garçons, where Rei Kawakubo featured suiting with masculine checks and pinstripes. Dries Van Noten decorated his tartan dresses with feathers for a feminine touch. Other popular fabrics included herringbone, houndstooth, pressed wools and tweeds.

High-wattage glamour

Minimalism is so 2012. Designers have piled on the embellishments, creating styles that border on couture.

Pyjama dressing was the theme at Louis Vuitton, but it wasn't about going bare. Instead, Marc Jacobs went for full glamour as models wore lace-trimmed negligees, jackets and pyjama tops embroidered with flowers, degrade sequins and marabou feathers at the hems.

Dolce & Gabanna referenced the stunning mosaics of Sicilian churches, which were printed on dresses, while evening dresses were hand-beaded with religious figures, inviting all to worship at the altar of fashion.

Couture techniques were also celebrated at Valentino with beautiful dresses embroidered entirely in flowers.

Tom Ford went all out on a cross-cultural, ethnic mix that included beaded flowers on skirts, tribal prints and elaborate fringed leather ponchos. Even his evening wear came embroidered with comic book-inspired starbursts.

Candy colours

Black is back at brands such as Chanel and Alexander Wang, which is no surprise. Black and white continues to be a stylish colour combination, balancing classicism and modernity.

That being said, there was a lighter side to the collections thanks to a fresh, new palette of pastels. Banish those dark winter days with autumn's sweet shades of baby blue, powder pink, yellow and lilac, which appeared at brands such as Victoria Beckham, Giambattista Valli and fashion's new wunderkind, Simone Rocha.

Pastels for summer seem sweet and sunny, but these autumn creations, like those shown at Céline and Carven, have added edge and subversive elements.

Key items to fall for

The curved heel: as proposed by everyone from Roger Vivier to Christian Dior.

Suede pumps: this rich fabric adds dept and texture to autumn looks.

The midi skirt: choose from super flared or tight; just make sure it hits below the knee.

An oversized coat: menswear silhouettes rule, or go for a style with rounded shoulders for a modern look.

Tuxedo jacket: this must-have appeared everywhere from Saint Laurent to Yohji Yamamoto.

Chunky necklaces: make a statement with heavy-metal punk styles or Lanvin's tongue-in-cheek versions featuring words like "Cool".

New prints: florals may still abound but it's all about camouflage (à la punk) or innovative prints such as Balenciaga's marble print.