By the time summer arrives, I’m already thinking about fall—or, more specifically, starting to plan my autumn wardrobe. After first combing my closets for treasured items from years past, I then review my notes from various designers’ preview shows of their Fall/Winter collections, and peruse favourite fashion magazines and sites to determine what new pieces I should add.
It always feels a bit peculiar, but fun, to be sitting dockside in sweltering heat shopping for coats. I’m particularly taken with the striking creations from young British dynamo Richard Quinn, who graduated from the MA Fashion program at Central Saint Martins just three years ago. His star has been steadily rising since, boosted by Amal Clooney’s choice of a silver foil Quinn ensemble for last year’s Met Gala. Both his blue floral duchess satin and rose print trapeze satin overcoats recall the dramatic elegance of 1950s couture—it’s easy to imagine Grace Kelly or Lauren Bacall in either. To maintain their voluminous A-line shape, one is lined with tulle; the other features an inner mesh skirt.
Another richly gifted Brit, Sarah Burton (who created Kate Middleton’s wedding dress), has crafted an exquisite autumn collection for Alexander McQueen. Inspired by both the historic textile mills in Northern England (where she grew up) and the wild, surrounding countryside, Burton says she is saluting “the chaos of tailoring.” I’m especially taken with her bold celebration of black and white houndstooth, extending from suits and dresses to coats and bags.
Several fall collections offer fresh takes on metallic, though none, from my perspective, quite as sensational as a silver silk lamé mousseline gown from Oscar de la Renta, with wide sleeves and delicate leaf embroidery at the neck. The moment I saw it on the runway, I knew it would top my list of autumn must-haves.
One of the surprising and delightful fall trends is the return of the cape, featured by several designers in various styles, lengths, and fabrics. Among my favourites: an arm-slit, floor-length dazzler in rose-patterned black Chantilly lace from Prada and a short, cozy cape by Alessandro Michele for Gucci in black crocheted wool, fringed with long tassels. It’s perfect for dressing up any daytime outfit while adding a welcome layer of warmth as autumn’s chill arrives. But perhaps most irresistible: a mid-length, front-fastening “compact drap” in wool (with a hint of cashmere) from Pierpaolo Piccioli at Valentino. The piece is sumptuous yet refined and, best of all, comes in a beautiful soft shade of pink—my signature colour!