The trophy piece on the fashion insiders’ shopping hit lists right now isn’t what you think. Cold-shoulder tops? Been wearing them since February. Crochet bikini? Everyone’s over those post-Coachella. Satin bomber jacket? Old news, babes.
The piece that will have us running into stores when it arrives – at the end of May, in Topshop’s case, not that we’re counting the days or anything – is the padded jacket, the breakout star of the most recent Paris fashion week. The padded jacket used to be your coat-cupboard’s guilty secret, the piece you reached for when it was too cold to care about fashion. But that has all changed. Balenciaga’s red quilted jacket, worn grandly off-the-shoulder in the manner of a mink coat at the opera, is to next season what the Chloé tracksuit is to this one. The Stella McCartney padded coat, in metallic bronze and in luxe navy velvet, confirmed the quilted coat’s leap into high fashion.
But waiting till next season is so last season. The fashion industry is still arguing the toss over buy-now-see-now catwalk shows – Burberry and Tom Ford will take the plunge from September, while Pascal Morand, the head of Paris fashion week’s governing body, is leading the French resistance – but the idea of immediacy has already taken root in the consumer mindset. The technicality of when a specific garment will be available on Sloane Street or the Rue Saint-Honoré matters less, at ground level, than the fact that the tradition of the six-month wait time is being eroded. The shopping public are not remotely interested in the industry debate over what instant delivery means for the internal power balance of the fashion industry. They just want their padded jackets now. And the high street is listening: Asos has a minimalist-styled quilted jacket on sale already, for £55, while Urban Outfitters has a very-Balenciaga emerald-green quilted padded jacket for £76, on sale later this summer.
The padded jacket is “a central fashion statement to buy now and take you through autumn/winter”, says Topshop’s creative director, Kate Phelan. It represents “a new sense of heightened reality happening in fashion – an evolution from normcore”. The cult Sacai label, designed by Comme des Garçons alumna Chitose Abe, has been at the forefront of the new-wave padded coat, with deconstructed, couture-influenced, cape-backed shapes on the catwalk for several years. This in turn led to a wave of ironic padded-jacket-wearing among east London hipsters last winter. This seemed to presage Paris fashion week, which served as a formal coming-out for the padded jacket as a high-fashion item.
The past few summers have been dominated by blink-and-you-miss-it, silly-season micro-trends. But 2016 sees a move to “pieces you can invest in now, but continue wearing into the colder months”, according to Natalie Kingham, buying director at Matchesfashion.com. If money is no object, she recommends “parkas from Saint Laurent, trench coats from Calvin Klein, biker jackets from Balenciaga, Gucci loafers, sneakers from Common Projects and lightweight knitwear from The Row and Raey”. As summer-season shopping gets underway, she is noticing flimsy beachwear being edged out of the picture this year by strong sales of “multi-functional dresses, the kind you can wear in the city, on holiday and out in the evening, and then layer over a fine knit with boots later in the year”. Buying a winter coat in spring? Fashion has never been more sensible. JCM
Five other long-haul trends to buy now
Kate Middleton and Michelle Obama can keep the tasteful elbow-length sleeve – anyone truly fashionable has been on non-speakers with their wrists for a while now. Long sleeves that finish halfway down their wearer’s hand – see Kanye’s Airport sweater and any self-respecting hoodie – also come in blouse form. The floppy French cuff is the way to do this trend without the streetwear edge – at Marques’Almeida on the spring catwalk, and Stella McCartney for autumn. It’s less Kanye, more Carine: insouciant and sexy. Disclaimer: people who wear this look don’t do the washing up.
The hottest jeans around right now cost £880 and are by Vetements, AKA fashion’s favourite brand. Blogger Miroslava Duma liked hers so much she wore them multiple times over fashion weeks. But – here’s the thing – they are made from two pairs of vintage Levi’s, cut up and stitched back together. This means you can totally cheat to get the look. In-the-know types go for the 505s, which have the high-waisted, peachy-bottom shape currently in favour. Those confident with the pinking shears will add a step hem – longer at the back than the front – and frayed edges.
Beyoncé wears everything from Cavalli silk layers to a Hood By Air coat in Lemonade. But it’s the pie-crust collar from Formation that is still the style takeaway, the one that’s set to run into next season. The singer’s is by Zimmermann and has an American Horror Story vibe when worn with a parasol. Other takes include the Princess Di chic of the sold-out pie- crust in Alexa Chung’s collection for M&S and the New Romantic-style ruffled shirt. The last one can be seen as a tribute to Prince’s Purple Rain look.
Anne France Dautheville chic
Who? You might well ask. Possibly in a bid to educate the front row in the kick-ass heroines of history, Chloé designer Clare Waight Keller based her autumn collection on Dautheville, a Frenchwoman who travelled around the Middle East on a motorbike in the 70s. The York Notes way to pay homage is by wearing the moto jacket, which is already on the high street at Asos, endorsed by Grimes and out to replace the biker. Knowledge of the MotoGP standings, and ability to debate the pros and cons of a Honda v Kawasaki, is an optional extra.
Hedi Slimane’s final collection for Saint Laurent plus the 30th anniversary of the Addicted to Love video add up to one thing: if the 90s are the daywear reference at the moment, after-dark is all about the 80s. Dresses, then, should be short, tight and preferably come with embellishment or at least some metallics. If Addicted to Love – not to mention Prince’s 80s back catalogue – is on the playlist, Bonfire of the Vanities is on fashion’s reading list this year. Channelling Maria Ruskin is totally allowed. LC