First Resort: The Definitive Guide
AS a pre-summer warm-up, the resort collections are an opportune moment to explore far-flung forgotten crafts and traditional artisan techniques. If you're Tomas Maier at Bottega Veneta, you go about the idea properly and recruit a team of craftsmen in Morocco for the sole purpose of weaving raffia for shoes. And delightful they are, too. As are his macramé frocks and block-printed cotton poplin dresses. Bursts of boho shone through all the collections; Emilio Pucci's Navajo-inspired miniskirts were laden with rich frogging and beaded tassels, while Roberto Cavalli took a turn towards Bohemia with a series of drop-crotch trousers in a mix of animal prints and ikat, and saffron-coloured cotton jackets that glistened with embroidered mirrors. Cavalli's hedonistic girl looked as if she was enjoying an Indian retreat: there were party dresses, too - but this time she was dancing barefoot in the sand.
Denim - designer shorthand for "off duty" - has become a regular fixture on the resort collections scene, and this season continued to essay the cloth's versatility. There was everything from indigo denim trouser suits at Chanel with red-and-white whip-stitching (as elegant as any of the house's bouclé two-pieces), to Americana dungarees at Balmain, cuffed and cinched low on the hips with woven denim belts - ideal for Olivier Rousteing's coterie of club girls to slip into the morning after. (Oh, and for the night before they'll no doubt be clamoring for his denim mini dresses with Vienetta-ruffled hemlines.) In addition to Roberto Cavalli's boyfriend jeans, featuring the house's signature baroque swirls in tonal blue, and Christopher Kane's pleat-front shorts and denim jackets in sandblasted icy hues, studded with doorknob-size crystal buttons (diehard Kane-ites will recognise those huge crystal buttons from a/w '10), other renditions were highly worked. At Alexander McQueen, it looked as if Sarah Burton had been fastidiously combing the floors of LA's premium denim wash-houses for off-cuts to piece together in her Seventies patchwork trouser suits, while over at Givenchy, Riccardo Tisci reworked black and indigo raw denim into ultra-feminine silhouettes - his skirts featured bunched-up paper-bag waists and vast panniers while others erupted into displays of helter-skelter ruffles. And the cloth made its first-time appearance in Valentino's ready-to-wear collection. Under the direction of Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, the duo debuted ankle-grazing jeans, tailored shorts and neat little sailor tops.
Look no further for a breath of fresh air after a season in heavy woollens. For starters, who wouldn't find the appeal in DKNY's black trousers with go-faster tux stripes in racy yellow? The label's baseball T-shirts are also jaunty. There were lots of literal takes on the sporty motif - see Marni's black tracksuit with two white stripes running down the side (eat your heart out, Adidas) and the cricket whites at Chanel, complete with shin guards, bat and ball (Lagerfeld is partial to a surprise accessory) - but the most compelling looks offered nuances on athleticism. At Dior, a crisp white blouse, plunging, pinched at the waist and worn with all the ease of a T-shirt, boasted a punchy criss-cross halter neckline of sheer cobalt-blue silk. It felt brand new. So did Raf Simons's expertly colour-blocked pointy-toed heels in black, with flashes of white and blue - ideal for the woman who, say, loves the look of sneakers but can't actually bring herself to wear them out of Pilates class hours. Fendi's Karl Lagerfeld and Silvia Venturini Fendi also got the measure of this girl: the house's historic interlocked Fs, plastered over the most luxurious of tracksuit trousers, have never looked so fresh. It's the graphic punctuations such as these that urge this trend forward.
Perhaps it has something to do with the promise of sun - way back when, the resort collections were solely destined for the jet-setter's expensive winter cruise - but designers just can't shake that holiday feeling. And right now, fashion is fixated with exposed midriffs - any which way, just so long as it's bare. AtCalvin Klein, Francisco Costa flaunted tanned taut tummies between white midi-length skirts and cropped sweaters, a look imbued with Nineties minimalism. Michael Kors put the midriff on show via high-waisted skirts and ribbed bandeaus in butterscotch, and Marc Jacobs's bra top and leather pencil skirt combos all drew eyes to abs. There were louder, punchier styles at work, too. Chanel's slouchy drawstring shorts and cropped off-the-shoulder sweatshirt, modelled by Cara Delevingne, could have been borrowed from her BFF, Rihanna.
The buzzword of the season. When designers such as the young couturier Giambattista Valli debut bohemian skirts and slouchy T-shirts, you know something is afoot. Even when fabrics are rich and luxe they're worked into something throw-on cool - a point best illustrated by Alexander Wang, who manipulated leather as if it was silk into slouchy pleat-front trousers in black and elephant grey. Mannish proportions continued at Chloé, whose high-waisted cropped trousers looked as if they could solve many a sartorial problem this side of the year - and next. Better still, they were presented with run-around flats. Even Erdem relaxed into a slouchier stance with his offering of generously cut boxy silk T-shirts, breezy trousers and piped pyjama bottoms, which, by the way, aren't going anywhere anytime soon. At Gucci, Frida Giannini debuted a Seventies orange- and mocha-stripe set while Jean Paul Gaultier opted for navy pinstripe PJs - so smart, one could almost wear them to the office. It doesn't get any easier than that.
Yes, you can wear the trousers - and the dress too - and all at once. Dresses layered over trousers are a recurring theme this season, and Giambattista Valli interpreted the idea in multiple beautiful ways. Two of the prettiest: a white sleeveless tail-shirt over zebra-printed, cropped, gently flared trousers, and a floral frock over matching trousers. The free-spirited look took a brilliantly boho spin at Fendi, where blousy dresses in mosaic-tile prints were cinched at the waist and layered over matching trousers. Riccardo Tisci also favoured a dress/trouser combo - his were peony printed and strapless and layered over corresponding trousers. Note: this isn't a mini moment - hemlines now reach the knee or creep even longer.
Crochet and lace abound: Alexander McQueen's antiqued white crocheted gown looked as if it had been meticulously pieced together by a grandmother's sideboard-worth of lacy doilies. Burberry's Christopher Bailey also explored the possibilities of crochet - his took shape as tube dresses, and were shown alongside a series of lacy pencil skirts. Lace is everywhere and in every shape imaginable, posing as T-shirts at Balmain; pretty blouses at Nina Ricci; boho gowns at Cavalli; demure, long-sleeved shifts at Erdem; and cut into narrow trousers at Givenchy. It popped up in lace overlays at Dior, and accented Peter Pilotto's shirtdresses too; it even peeked out as petticoats at Christopher Kane. As a fleeting glimpse or a head-to-toe look, the message is loud and clear.
Sarah Harris reports on the hottest trends of the latest collections
Source Vogue UK