Dries Van Noten is one of those designers that can take a well known reference, place or era, go to town with it but do it in such a way that it feel fresh and relevant. Last season he did that when he turned to South East Asia and this season it was all about 90s grunge. The aesthetic has to be one of the most overdone trends and in the wrong hands it can quickly make you feel like you're being transported back to a time that you could do without being reminded of. With van Noten, though, grunge felt covetable.
The collection was full of plaid shirts that came in organza, which added a feminine twist to the menswear staple. These shirts appeared throughout and came, in one instance, under a silver metallic waistcoat, which was offset with a floral printed skirt. Checked trousers were clashed with contrasting checked shirts teamed with intricate textured floral over the knee length skirts.
This season's offerings were strong, but it isn't the first time that the designer has looked to the nineties. Cast your mind back to his Fall 2012 collection and you'll remember the grunge glamour style that was replicated everywhere that season and the maxi dresses that he showed for spring were definitely a nod back to them. The result? One of my favourite collections in Paris so far.
The trouser suit has long been a stalwart piece in women's wardrobes. Since Yves Saint Laurent created his 'Le Smoking' women's tuxedo back in 1966, the piece has no doubt morphed into one of the single most transformative pieces of women's wear and for A/W12, it made a serious comeback. Just like Saint Laurent, this season designers seem to be more attune to the fact that women need clothes that make sense as much as they appeal aesthetically and as a result, we're spoilt for choice.
You can generally guage what the big trends will be by watching the Prada show and this season Miuccia Prada made a big statement. At both Prada and Miu Miu the trouser suit dominated sending a clear message that if there's anything you need to buy this coming season, it's that.
Throughout the shows in February there was a lot of talk about the clothes being like an armour, preparing women for the tough world out there right now and it's true. At the rate things are going, we can all do with as much help as we can get and there's no denying it's transformative powers. Even Caroline Issa spoke about it recently in the latest issue of ELLE UK. Talking about her recent Tom Ford suit purchase she said: 'When I wear it I feel like the chicest person alive - it is wearable art.' Whistles CEO Jane Shepherdson shared the sentiment. 'It's about authority,' she said in an interview with Karen Dacre about the suit's power in the workplace. 'If I feel I need 'armour' any day, then I will pull on a trouser suit. It let's people know you're serious and not to e messed with.' My-Wardrobe's founder Sarah Curran said the same thing. 'There's definitely an attitude that goes with wearing one,' she told Dacre. 'There is something about a trouser suit that gives an air of confidence that a dress could never do.'
From top left: Acne, Dries van Noten, Miu Miu, Todd Lynn, Todd Lynn, Alexander Wang, Celine, Elizabeth & James, Miu Miu and Prada
Creating clothes that are both creative and wearable is an age old challenge for designers but it's something that Dries Van Noten has mastered. This season his penchant for innovative prints saw him travel to London's V&A Museum where he was inspired by Chinese, Japanese and Korean costumes, which resulted in a collection that played homage to the East but in a way that extremely modern and ready to be worn on the street.
The prints were incorporated on everything from the sleeves of tops to patchwork and block panelled styles on dresses and shirts and towards the end, coats came embroidered with elements like the traditional bird motive, which also appeared on structured jackets throughout. While the outerwear was predominantly heavy, dresses and skirts came in lightweight printed silks and kimonos came in similar styles. Alongside the prints, though, Van Noten tapped into his love of the exotic by introducing fox fur on collars and Suri alpaca fur on cropped jackets styled over the patchwork prints and oversized clutches came in black crocodile skin.
2011 really felt like a good year for Solange Knowles. While in the past we have always thought of her as Beyonce's younger sister, last year was the first time many people stopped and paid attention to her and it's hardly surprising. Her style and penchant for brands like Opening Ceremony and Dries van Noten has won her a legion of fashion fans and she's starred in big campaigns for both Rimmel and Carol's Daughter.
2012 looks to be even better for Knowles as yesterday, news broke that she has just signed with Next Models. Like Lana Del Rey who signed with them last week, she will join the agency's 'talent' category along with stars like Elie Goulding and Alexa Chung. Vogue UK, who are already calling her the 'next big thing', have confirmed that she will guest-blog on the website fo their 'Today I'm Wearing' feature.
Hopefully this is only the beginning of great things for Solange.
Though I love America's Next Top Model as much as the next fashion reality show junkie, it's fair to say that winners and contestants of the show haven't always done too well afterwards. Eva Pigford, Yaya De Costa and Toccara Jones are amongst the few exceptions to the rule and now you can add Fatima Siad to the list.
Despite leaving the show in third place, Siad was quickly signed by New York Models and after three years focusing on commercial work, this season saw her move into fashion. As well as walking for Dries Van Noten and Hermès, the model also confirms that she's just finished shooting Hervé Léger's spring 2012 campaign with Camilla Akrans. 'I didn't really work well my first year. My agency wanted to strip the whole Top Model off me and basically sell me as a model, and not a reality TV model,' she told The Cut when asked about life after the show. 'I did jobs here and there, but I think what was going on was that my agency wanted to build me from scratch. I was learning through it all.'
Dries Van Noten's Spring/Summer collection started with an interest with Belgian artist Jef Verheyen and the way he'd capture light in his paintings ultimately transpiring in the collection on uber lightweight and sheer fabrics in light blues and yellows; and on sequins and metallics that beautifully glimmered when they caught the light.
With that in mind, the collection made quite a move away from what we saw for fall from the designer, with its heavy midi length skirts and thick wool knitwear. As soon as the show began it was clear that he was bracing spring will open arms.
Van Noten continued to play with silhouettes again to deliberately move away from all things bod-con and skinny that has dominated the runways over the last few seasons. Instead, he gave us oversized single breasted jackets thrown over cotton white shirts and linen trousers came in volumous styles teamed with boxy jackets and simple tops, with shorts also coming in a similar relaxed silhouette. When he wasn't going sensual with sheer floaty maxi dresses styled over high waisted trousers, he sent masculine pieces down the runway like a black oversized tuxedo jacket thrown over a sexy metallic top.
If you find you don't have the time to pour over the latest catwalk shows, spotting the biggest trends for Fall 2010 - don't panic. We've attended the fashion shows and designer presentations, spent hours obsessing over runway shots and videos to bring you our pick of the bunch, our Fall Favourites. Need to know this season's hottest colours, materials, looks? We have it covered. Look no further than our six chosen trends: grey, leather, military, neutrals, shearling and velvet.
As one of the first places to recognise Viktor and Rolf, the Hyéres Internation Festival of Fashion and Photography, which takes place each year in Southern France is known as the place to be for cutting edge talent. It should come as no surprise, then, that the winner of this year's award voted on by the public went to 33 year old Tsolmandakh Munkhuu. The Paris-based designer - who originates from Mongolia - painted the models for her show entirely black, for a collection of layering, volume and juxtaposed textures.
Walking away with a prize of 15,000 euros, Alexandra Verschueren won the L'Oreal Professional Grand Prize with a collection inspired by German artist Thomas Demand - impressing Dries Van Noten, Sarah Mower and Charlotte Stockdale, who all sat on the fashion jury.