Fall ’17 runway shows were awash in denim. Here’s rundown of some of the most influential shows.
Yeezy does nostalgic jeanswear
After four seasons of hyping the activewear trend and tapping loose, comfortable muted layers of stone and beige, Kanye West opted into the denim world for his fifth show. This move is a very important one because, like him or not, West has his finger on the pulse, or at least surrounds himself with a team who do.
After the strong athleisure push we’ve experienced in the market over the last five years, fashion is making a return to classic denim and American sportswear. West’s denim pieces were basic in style; focusing around a perfectly rounded, roomy 5-pocket jean silhouette and matching trucker jackets and served up in monochrome, clean stonewash surfaces of black and indigo. But styling elevated these basic pieces to create a fresh attitude. The show looked straight out of a Midwest soap opera from the 80s with its plaid shirts, knee-high suede boots and woolen bombers, but the layered styling and the continued use of athleisure in the mix cemented this collection firmly in today’s streetwear arena. This nostalgic everyday look was replicated at both APC and Calvin Klein, proving West is not alone in his appreciation of classic jeanswear for Fall ’17.
Y/Project is next-gen denim
What inspired Kanye West to introduce denim into his runway this season? Brands such as Vetements and Y/Project, in my opinion. Both labels have shown an appreciation of the ultra-normal over the last couple of seasons, elevating and distorting jeanswear with proportion play, re-made techniques and deconstructed looks.
Glen Martens, the Belgian founder of Y/Project, has been attracting substantial hype around his subversive designs over the last year. Opening Ceremony picked his line and his Instagram feed boasts 80k followers, so industry eyes are all over him. It used to be that the more extreme, theatrical runway denim looks were often left for the Harajuku kids, and high street would stick to copying more wearable catwalk trends, but Martens’ cut out yokes and oversized slashed knee pants have been noticed already creeping into retail stores. This is because Martens’ has a knack for playing with extreme looks but cementing them back into every day, wearable fashion.
His Fall ’17 collection comprised the usual upsized pant fits finished with chain lace-up front fastenings and ruffled, stacked hems. Jackets were layered, decorated with sleeve seam fastenings and finished with bulky shearling linings. Micro-mini skirts were stylized with dolphin-hems and run and fell seaming. The overall look is certainly high-fashion meets streetwear but plenty to be ‘inspired by’ for the coming seasons.
Matthew Adams Dolan pumps up the volume
Matthew Adams Dolan is carving out a name for himself as the King of XL Denim. You may have heard the name but you’ll certainly know the pictures if you see them: he’s the guy behind Rihanna’s oversize, elongated denim jacket she was photographed in most of last year. Dolan has always focused on denim and scale and this season is no exception.
An addition that gave the show an artisanal twist was his use of the patchwork quilt. Inspired by his mother’s talent for quilt-making, Dolan created cape-like indigo and ecru blankets, reminiscent of Japanese boro repair. He also played with collar positioning, pulling jackets back off the shoulder and even creating a feminine, fitted concept for more commercial fashion appeal. Pant fits were extreme and flared and the entire show had a strong genderless attitude, reflected in both the styling and the casting. Dolan is a rising star and although his designs are dramatic, the message he is bringing to the table is timely: volume is on its way back in.
Sacai deconstructs the 90s
Sacai designer Chitose Abe has dabbled in denim before. In fact, her denim and nylon parka from pre-fall 2016 has graced many a denim street-style shot and industry mood board around the world. But this season Abe went all out, collaborating with the guys who know the most about this kind of thing: Levi’s. This is the most recent in a spate of Levi’s co-labs after Vetements and Off-White.
Abe’s take on jeanswear is apt, considering her brand name means to combine two different objects to make one, new, unfamiliar object. Unfamiliar is about right. She is another designer who is channeling a nostalgic look but turning it slightly on its head. Abe sent mid-length, deconstructed skirts down the runway, customized with chiffon and lace and reminiscent of DIY 90s looks. She reworked the split-side-seam boot-cut jean with a zipper and paired denim with practical puffa vests, creating a collection that looked a little everyday clothing meets cutting-edge runway. Again, jackets were oversized, elongated and manipulated with the stand-out piece being a fur-collar, pink puffa-lined piece. Girly but subversive.
Off White riffs off the classics
Speaking of Off White, this is the third season Virgil Abloh has collaborated with Levi’s. The partnership has so far been a success because Abloh is very much like Abe in his approach to design: he’s commercial and considered yet inventive. His signature stark white zipper tapes remained, in a move that is beginning to give his denim a recognizable handwriting. In fact the jeans were similar to previous seasons; a straight-leg regular with subtle, monotone stonewash.
This season’s innovation came from deconstructed, ruffled skirts and elevated hems on classic trucker jackets. A statement look explored the pairing of denim with sheer, gathered stripes of mesh, giving jeans an enclosed, feminine feel. All in all, the collection wasn’t as denim-centric as previous seasons but what he did do, he did well. Get ready for a cropped trucker jacket appearing on a high street near you.
Kenzo creates contemporary heritage
There’s a movement going on within the heritage denim trend that is very interesting: workwear detailing, silhouette and sentiment is modernizing and hitting the runway. Inspired by the clean, rigid look of a brand-new pair of Carhartt pants or a boxy work jacket, high fashion brands are playing with the concept of workwear in a way that’s not been explored since the 90s. Enter La Collection Memento Nº1, by Kenzo. A new concept dreamt up by designers Humberto Leon and Carol Lim at Opening Ceremony, it’s a specific capsule inspired by Kenzo’s rich archives.
Having shown their men’s and women’s collections together in January, this collection fully focused on a retrospective look at the brand, tapping specifically its 1983 campaign featuring Iman in her early modelling career. The collection was colorful, sporty and clean, tapping 80s and 90s graphics, color-blocking and re-imagined workwear. Belted coveralls and dresses in classic khaki and unexpected purple bore clean workwear branding and a uniform-like attitude. Workwear pants with stark white top-stitch were modernized using rounded silhouettes and curved in-seams as well as pops of solid color. The overall look dragged the workwear trend straight from the 1940’s to the 1980’s in one swoop.
Rachel Antonoff does clueless-cool
Designer Rachel Antonoff created a politically engaged show for Fall ’17, whilst at the same time maintaining a sense of commerciality and style that bordered on girly heaven. Again, channeling a very 90s feeling, models looked straight out of the U.S. television series “Blossom” with their plaid shirts, graphic tees, pinafore dresses and 90s Dickies looks. However the bigger picture was truly political. Antonoff celebrated strong women such as Fran Fine and Elizabeth Warren in graphic tees and continued with her now famous uterus prints and intarsias. There’s plenty of pink, some leopard and spot prints and even an avocado placement, as a nod to L.A. ladies who brunch. In one way the collection pokes fun at the idea of a kitsch ‘clueless’ girl but through the knowing nods to politics and feminist themes, it’s clear that those ideas are to be taken ironically.
Now to the denim; jeans were wide, mid-cast and deeply cuffed, almost reminiscent of a rave pant silhouette. Alongside the denim is an exaggerated, A-line worker pant and cord-collared jacket, adding tomboy charm and a more casualwear sensibility. The overall look is tough X-Girl and bang on trend.
Ashley Williams presents the casual cowgirl
There were a lot of rodeo looks at this season’s runway shows, making western styling a key theme for 2017 and beyond. What made the trend interesting was tracking the different design interpretations and attitudes conveyed by various fashion houses. Ashley Williams bridged the gap between the 80s and 90s advocates such as Kenzo and Rachel Antonoff and the more obvious western looks at House of Holland and MM6.
Typical 80s Dallas looks incorporated plaid tailored jackets with Brooke Shields-inspired regular fit 5-pocket jeans, high-waist khaki pants and 80s pony skin tops. Variation came from her deep, box-pleat-front culottes and her use of sweatshirts and hoodies, creating a more modern attitude in line with high fashion and streetwear. The contemporary elements helped to create a runway that was a nod to rodeo but spoke of modernity.
MM6 refined rodeo
Since John Galliano took the helm at Martin Margiela the MM6 line has taken a direction shift, and for denim trends that’s been a positive move. MM6 is being stocked in all the coolest boutiques right now and the directional silhouettes, innovative pattern cutting and strong styling has ensured that this diffusion line continues to grab attention.
Last season the collection tapped a Vetements-like awkwardness paired with a strong dose of western and this time around, the story continues with a grungy twist to the tale. The overall look is more refined and sophisticated, with clean tailoring and semi-fitted silhouettes creating more subtle effect. Regular 90s stonewash looks are interrupted with stark, black paneling and a rather grown-up car coat in clean, mid-indigo adds a sophisticated statement. But the look that takes all this apparent quiet design into a different arena is the oversized hoody and longline, frayed denim skirt.
House of Holland gets wild with western
When Henry Holland keys into a trend he does it with a playful gusto that grabs attention and puts a smile on your face. His interpretation of Americana didn’t disappoint in its tight color palette of red, white and blue, classic plaid dresses, allover star prints and collegiate graphics. Rodeo styling came to the fore through stylized yoke detailing on shirts and dresses and lace-up fastenings. Denim was classically mid-cast but not plain: ruffle flares adorned jeans and badges and patches and giants stars updated jackets and shirts.
Holland’s shows always knock on the door of trashy but if you take the collection apart you are left with some very commercial separates, pieces that are sure to inspire a season copycats from Harajuku to the UK high street. His inspiration also mirrors that of Adam Selman who presented rose motifs, zip-through truckers and fitted shirts and dresses that spoke the same language, proving that this fling the industry is having with western wear is far from over.