This season is all about you. A very polished, put-together more chic version of you. Autumn/winter ’19/’20 focuses on a renewed show of sophisticated strength through the cut, color, and an elevated couture-like elegance, or sense of it, applied to almost everything.
Imagine that. The past five years have been ruled by the total energy of sportswear and the youthful exuberance of the street. The sneaker has been our god and we have all worshipped it – many of us have even downloaded the StockX app and bought, sold and bid on the Yeezy and Jordan Retro super-sneaker market.
But with this new rule of chic law and order, the more chaotic and sometimes dysfunctional craziness of I’ll-wear-anything-to-get-photographed influencer style of dressing is under pressure. The schizophrenic bubble is finally deflating. Giorgio Armani recently wrote: “I’m a strong advocate for elegance in a world I see as increasingly vulgar, lacking in taste and without dignity. Today, there are no longer roles or opportunities. Everything is allowed, but when everything is allowed, it’s like nothing is worth anything at all. Women dress like girls at every age. Men do as well. That’s fine, but you need to be careful.”
The word on repeat during the autumn/winter ’19/’20 month-long extravaganza of shows was bourgeois, which when translated means middle-class, and all kinds of capitalism. Funny that. As we find ourselves in an increasingly right-
wing extremism political climate, designers are riffing on these capitalist codes and setting us on a somewhat subversive (fashion is always seditious even when it gets serious) slide into something grown-up.
Of course, some designers are also responding to the demand and thirst for more than the high-wire act that has been fast fashion, and working on delivering something different, lasting and intelligent. Oui oui, we are going to enjoy using this qualitative language of fashion in a new way. Bourgeois? Oh, you betcha. It is the quintessentially French stuff that houses with iconic foundations are built on Chanel, Hermès, Celine, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, et cetera.
Collectively, they have all created something that is in part inspired by the Jolie Parisienne and her Avenue
Montaigne and Rue Saint-Honoré haunt, those sacred streets where the discerning exude good breeding and good fortune and have been neglected for some time. This new iteration of a stealth-wealth wardrobe is built on solid, classic pieces that at their heart can be kept forever, as they are just so damn good they outlast trends as well as wear. Smart. Posh. Timely, too. As the climate crisis has accelerated the urgent conversation around sustainability, sourcing, upcycling and recycling, autumn/winter ’19/’20 is providing some answers to our thoughts about investment.
Balenciaga’s leather takes on a paper or plastic bag was reusable, clever and thoughtful. Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia called autumn/winter ’19/’20 his “ode to the customer, to people who actually go shopping for fashion. Because, of course, this is the reason I do it!” And so, he has given us a minimal (for him) wardrobe with the original, signature Balenciaga structure explored through expert tailoring, exquisite wool suits, essentially simple overcoats with extended shoulders, and square-toed ankle boots. No sneakers. Gvasalia’s mantra of ‘youth-led street’ that he has brought to the house is contained to only a single hot-pink silk dress printed in graffitied black pen.