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SS20 Super Seven: The looks that count

Sandra Halliday
14 October 2019

The SS20 shows weren’t big on adventurous new directions but they did offer up plenty of inspirational ideas that can be translated into commercial pieces come next season and the seasons beyond. Here’s our pick of the top looks that will drive demand for individual items.

Modern minimalist

Minimalism can be unforgiving for those of us who aren’t model-slim and model-tall but the SS20 version is a much more welcoming spin on the look that’s less about ‘stark’ and more about “simple”. Looks may be stripped of detail but that doesn’t make them dull. While white is the dominant colour, powerful one-colour effects can be impactful, as can subtle blending of neutrals and pales. Silhouettes are simple and while embellishment usually has no place in this category, the simplicity of neutral-toned sequins can feel minimalist. Key items include core basics like white shorts, tanks, fluid sight and shirtdresses, as well as easy pants. (See main picture).


Alexander McQueen, Rochas, Burberry, Dries Van Noten, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Isabel Marant

Designers are looking back to look forward and have come up with plenty of retro ideas that owe their origins to the 19th century and the very early years of the 20th. While this is seen in full-blown Victoriana looks, for the most part it comes as a key direction for topwear. Think blouses with billowing, frill-trimmed sleeves, leg-of-mutton sleeves (also found on dresses and jackets), virginal white lace and broderie anglaise, or cute mini dresses with frilled yokes and sheer panels.

70s cool

Celine, Celine, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Victoria Beckham, Louis Vuitton, Alberta Ferretti

The too cool to care look of the 1970s is riding high with skinny cut jackets flared pants, statement blouses, waistcoats and tank knits all being key items. This style oozes dressed-down perfection and is being spearheaded by Hedi Slimane at Celine and Nicolas Ghesquière at Louis Vuitton, who give it an urban edge that throws Parisienne chic, laidback LA style and an NYC buzz into the mix. It’s a key look that bridges smart and casual (and can transform office wardrobes in the process). The essential accessory here is a platform boot that makes the most of those flares to elongate the leg.

70s conservative

Rochas, Celine, Celine, Tommy x Zendaya, Marc Jacobs, Victoria Beckham, Prada

The flipside to 70s cool, this look is the updated interpretation of the style Hedi Slimane sent out onto the Celine runway for AW19. Key constituents are a box pleat or A-line skirt, a “secretary” dress, a classic blazer and buttoned-up-to-the-neck or pussy-bow blouse. The essential accessories in this case are a 70s shoulder bag and a pair of high-heel, slightly-slouchy boots. Of course, the big question about this look is will it actually make a big impact commercially? Those skirts and blouses that look conservative-cool on the runway can just look frumpy on anyone over a certain age, less than a certain height and bigger than a size 8. We’ll have to see with this one.

Easy evenings

Oscar de la Renta, Dries Van Noten, Dries Van Noten, Victoria Beckham, Marc Jacobs, Ermanno Scervino, Prada, Rochas, Roland Mouret

As fashion has become more casual, designer options for after-dark have also become a bit more real-world and less about red carpet glam. For SS20, labels are giving women more wearable options with the season’s shorts trend pointing to a new eveningwear silhouette. Dressy pantsuits also play a key part in the season's after-dark options, while simple combinations that makes the most of texture and plays on light (lace, sequins, lamé, embellishment) also add instant occasion-ready appeal to simple separates and loose dresses. It’s also worth noting that while mini lengths aren’t big news on the runways, for partytime, they make a big impact, using colour and pattern to add the “special” into special occasion while keeping that easy edge.

Clash of the titans

Rochas, Oscar de la Renta, Miu Miu, MSGM, Gucci, Valentino, Gucci, Dries Van Noten, Benetton

SS20 is all about clashing colours and patterns with the power brights and always-strong prints (animal, floral, checks, stripes) giving us a trend that hits you in the eye from 1,000 paces and has undeniable hanger and VM appeal. Colour-wise, labels are happy to contrast purple with orange, emerald with royal blue, red with yellow, fuchsia with gold or turquoise and much more. And they also love to play with pattern and colour drama as  jaguar-meets-brocade, tropical prints work against unexpected red grounds, or classic daytime checks look surprising against evening embellishment. The trick is to forget good taste and simply go for it.

Raffia, raw and rustic

Oscar de la Renta, Jil Sander, Miu Miu, Dior, Roland Mouret, Dolce & Gabbana, Oscar de la Renta

Raffia, straw, hessian, natural-toned linens and straw-like fringing (occasionally brightly coloured but usually in neutral tones) all nod to a rustic-idyll-meets-tropical-island theme. The tropics have also emerged for SS20 in the form of hot tropical prints, but while those prints are the more obvious incarnation of the tropical trend, these ‘naturals’ offer an alternative for those who fight shy of flashier print story. And they add a pastoral twist too. They work beautifully for accessories, from “unfinished” straw hats to casualised handbags and rustic sandals. For clothing, the trend gives an updated edge to tailoring and occasion dressing while raffle fringe is a great way to add embellishment to simple pieces without the usual excess of beads and sequins.

For more SS20 trend analysis click here.


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