Spring-summer 2014 fashion trends are all about confidence and power

This year's spring-summer looks are all about confidence and power, but there's plenty of room for the feminine side, writes Divia Harilela

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 March, 2014, 9:55am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 March, 2014, 9:55am

Now that it's finally warmer and spring is in full swing, many will be glad to know that fashion this season is all about confidence and power, with looks ranging from tribal glamazons to luxe sportswear.

But that doesn't mean you can't embrace your more feminine side, as couture-worthy creations and pretty palettes add a softer, more sensuous side to the season. Here's a round-up of what's trending.

The tribal look is a fashion favourite, it's never been this fierce


While the tribal look is a fashion favourite, it's never been this fierce. Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen led the charge by sending out women warriors dressed in leather harnesses and bold chequerboard prints decorated with beads and ostrich feathers. The Valentino designers were inspired by a visit to Roman opera workshops but their ornate geometric embroideries and gladiator skirts conveyed a message of power and femininity.

Many designers were inspired by exotic far-flung places, including Riccardo Tisci, who clashed Japan and Africa with a collection for Givenchy that was more couture than street. Draped jersey separates were mixed with kimono jackets, while sequinned dresses that wrapped around the body were worthy of an African princess.

Embellishments are key to the look, and there's plenty going round. Maison Martin Margiela surprised us all with some ethnic Indian beadwork and embroideries on deconstructed silhouettes. At Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs sent out tulle separates covered in jet beading, while Dries Van Noten went for tassels and gold. Fringing was another hot trend, as spotted at Roberto Cavalli, Junya Watanabe and Miu Miu.


The athletic trend has been lingering for a while, but this season designers have injected a high-fashion attitude into classic sportswear separates. Chic hoodies and tracksuits appeared at Jean Paul Gaultier, while Chitose Abe at Sacai sent out sack-back silhouettes and trapeze dresses made from sporty fabrics in athletic shades of green and coral.

At Lanvin, Alber Elbaz gave his relaxed jumpsuits some glamour by using shiny fabrics such as lamé.

While technical fabrics made an appearance, it was all about luxury. Gucci's mesh tops were actually made from laser cut suede and were matched with bras, basketball shorts and silk track pants. Balenciaga's street-inspired tanks and Perfecto jackets were constructed from hand-woven leather for a luxe look. At Emilio Pucci, tank tops and track pants were made from black net embroidered in gold. It's all about giving your style a good workout, after all.

If breaking out the gym gear is not for you, then opt for a more versatile piece such as the cropped top, which was styled in various ways. It was paired with high-waisted skirts at Diane von Furstenberg and cropped trousers at Jil Sander. Alexander Wang's came with a sheer layer on top to cover the midriff. Don't forget to accessorise with legwarmers and tube socks (Prada), visors (Marni) and chunky rubber sole sandals (Marc Jacobs).



The lines between couture and ready-to-wear collections are becoming more blurred as designers try to differentiate themselves with impeccable craftsmanship, couture materials and intricate details. Leading the charge is Raf Simons at Dior, who blends old and new techniques in modern creations such as his floral silk dresses with pleats bursting from the shoulder or hips. At Valentino, Roman-inspired evening gowns and capes were decorated with couture-level embroideries and beadings.

At Tod's, newly appointed designer Alessandra Facchinetti translated the brand's understated luxury into everyday couture, ranging from preforated leather skirts to super-light and soft leather dresses. Proenza Schouler designers Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough took a leaf out of couturier Mariano Fortuny's book and experimented with pleated skirts, but made them all the more modern by bonding them with strips of foil.

Another couture favourite, lace, was transformed into modern negligee-style dresses with sheer layers at Stella McCartney, while Oscar de la Renta and Nina Ricci went for a more romantic look with all white. Burberry Prorsum's lace trench coat and skirt came encrusted with chunky jewels.

At Dolce & Gabbana, handcrafted details and exceptional fabrics added a luxe touch to their gilded dresses, which came in opulent lace or laser-cut leather. Even spring's ubiquitous florals were given a new dimension through intricate appliqués and sequins, as spotted on dresses at Versace.

Hand in hand with museum-worthy pieces is an ultra-feminine palette including powder pink, which was championed at brands like Balmain.



Who needs Art Basel when you can just visit fashion week? Designers have always referenced the art world, but spring-summer's arty nods ran the gamut from art deco to contemporary.

Miuccia Prada enlisted the talents of a group of young artists to paint murals on the walls of her show venue. Inspired by different themes of womanhood, the images also appeared on the clothes and accessories.

Frida Giannini at Gucci referenced art nouveau with Erté-inspired art deco prints in gold and bronze. Céline's collection is inspired by Brassaï's graffiti work, which translated into bold brush strokes on long tank tops and jackets. Primary colours such as red, yellow and blue brought the point home.

Karl Lagerfeld took his inspiration from an antique German paint chart at Chanel. A rainbow of colours came printed on dresses or injected into colourful knits and tweeds. Even the accessories had a painterly touch, with artists' portfolios and spray painted backpacks that will delight collectors.

10 must-haves for spring…

Fringed bag: every designer had one, from Céline (left) to Valentino.
Slip-on flats: comfy flat sandals came in every variation, from multi-strap to embellished styles.
Colourful coat: outerwear appeared in almost every collection. Opt for simple shapes in modern pastels.
Pleats: knife-edge pleats covered everything from skirts to dresses and are feminine yet chic.
Bomber jackets: soften the look with prints such as florals, or fabrics like silk.
Logo/slogan tee: it's all about wearing your message on your sleeve, as seen at Kenzo, Dior and Pucci.
Metallics: go for high-shine fabrics such as lamé and colours like gold, as spotted at Lanvin.
Crop tops: spring's hero piece. If you dare, expose more skin in bralets as seen at Prada and Versace (right).
Shirtdress: versatile and easy to wear; our favourite style came from Tod's.
Techno florals: floral prints are given a 3-D update with new textures and applications.