After hundreds of shows across the four fashion capitals, the Autumn-Winter 2016 runway season is officially behind us. Here are the major takeaways:
New York -- Star Power
New York designers hoping to make headlines were at a distinct disadvantage this season. Alas, what but the most urgent political story could distract from the fact that both Kanye West and Rihanna decided to stage star-studded fashion shows?
Rihanna's Fenty x Puma collaboration, the singer's first major design outing, brought out both the fashion elite and top A-listers, with a front row that included Wale, Chris Rock, and Yeezy himself, as well as Anna Wintour, Naomi Campbell, and super stylist Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele.
But even that couldn't hold a candle to West's listening party-cum-runway extravaganza at Madison Square Garden for Yeezy Season 3, his latest collection with Adidas. The nearly 1,000-model show was presented to an audience of 20,000, a packed house. The critics have been kinder to West's new album, The Life of Pablo, than they have been to his collection, but there's no denying this was the fashion event of the season.
London -- Optimism
When Burberry CEO Christopher Bailey announced he would be abandoning the traditional fashion model next September, opting to embrace a see now, buy now model, he was instantly lauded for challenging the fashion system. But in London, change and innovation is always in the air and this year was no different.
At Somerset House, London Fashion Week's former home, the 2016 international fashion showcase saw designers from countries typically missed by the Western fashion community -- including Slovakian Barbora Kubickova and Hala Kaiksow from Bahrain -- presenting their ideas for a designs for a future Utopia. And at the venerable Tate Britain, Amie Robertson's debuted her 14-piece collection to an audience that included mentor Marc Jacobs, who flew in from New York just for the show.
There may not have been much in terms of industry shaking trends in London, but youthful thinking was in high supply, as always.
Milan -- Individuality
At last it looks as though Milan's fashion scene -- long criticized for a lack of youth and ingenuity -- is experiencing a rebirth. The new maxim: more is more, and accept no less.
Alessandro Michele sowed the first seeds last year with his glamorous granny vision for Gucci, but his spirit of maximalism seems to have taken hold across the city. From Pucci to Marni, Roberto Cavalli to Fendi, ruffles, brocade, prints, palettes and embroidery reigned supreme, complemented by styling that saw unlikely textures and colors combined to tremendous effect.
Ultimately, what linked the shows more than any particular pattern or textile was a sense of individuality. Instead of luring shoppers to buy looks off the runway, designers seemed to encourage them to think differently about fashion, challenge the rules, and take risks.
Paris -- Uncertainty
At Paris Fashion Week, there are many things you can count on. Chanel will transform the Grand Palais into an unexpected set. Olivier Rousteing
will do a spin on glamazon power dressing at Balmain. A celebrity you're aware of but haven't heard much from lately will suddenly be sitting front row all over town.
But while some things remained the same, this was undoubtedly a season of transition, as the industry grappled with major changes at some of the most important houses.
Following the shows, questions still linger: Was Hedi Slimane's show his swan song at saint Laurent Paris? Is Christian Dior any closer to finding Raf Simons' successor? Will Moroccan couturier (and industry favourite)
The answers remain to be seen, but we're eager to see which of these questions are resolved in the coming months.