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Autumn Fashion 2006

By Laura Connell

Autumn Fashion 2006

In 2004, we were ready for a swift move away from the street edge while designers discovered a new lease of life in more demanding and increasingly wealthy female buyers. Yes we want respect but we decided a while back we no longer want to obtain it by dressing in a more masculine manner. It seems only fair that both sexes should be able to flaunt their assets to their hearts content. It is the re-emergence of this femininity which transfuses A/W 2006 much as it did last autumn’s collections.

Indeed, there hasn’t been that much of a move away from Autumn 2005 at all. Shapes remain resolutely conservative, cuts sexy and elegant. Most variation occurs in the accessory, the hue and fabric department. Some are saying we have traded creativity for femininity. Are we perhaps becoming less willing to take risks? It is beginning to look like it.

Looking firstly at the palettes for 2006, mainly blacks, greys and whites with flashes of yellow, fuschia, turquoise and dark green. The obvious issue with the latter combinations is that there is a very fine line between fashionable and vulgar colour clashes. My best advice to you is to go shopping with at least two people this season to avoid you buying an outfit which may make you like a sick parrot. It’s a very fine line indeed.
Nevertheless, when the colours work, they are truly explosive. Giles’ grey and red pleated evening gown encapsulates this admirably well, as does Narcisso Rodriguez’ monochromatic white dress with black sash which frames the female form to perfection. Suits tend to be grey or beige in tweed and with the added touch of black or grey woollen tights- there were very few bare legs to be seen. Tights are an essential accessory to any outfit be it day or night-time. Narrow legged trousers and knee-length skirts continue to dominate catwalks. While it is not a prude look altogether, it’s reasonably conservative.

In terms of materials and patterns, tartan is back en-force as are velvets, silks and brocade and indeed, fur was seen on a great many runways. Coats are mainly double-breasted, with a reasonably loose shape and fur trimmed. Be prepared to be pampered by the feel of your clothing. When shopping, always remember the touch-test. Rich fabrics are a must this season and if it doesn’t feel rich, it probably doesn’t look it either. You must be careful not to overdo the fabrics however, and I would recommend selecting one or at most two types (velvet and tartan for instance) for any outfit. More than that, and you may find that the clothing is detracting away from you or worse, make you look weighty.

If you want elegance with an edge, Aquascutum has definitely inherited the mantle of the modern woman about town. Its narrow trousers and straight jackets have a major ‘garçonne’ feel to them yet unlike some fellow garçonne designers such as Jil Sander, there are also some lovely girly pieces. Simplicity is key and in my mind, a simple base is the best base of all as it allows clothes to adapt themselves to you, the wearer, rather than the other way around. In fact Aquascutum presents that colour dilemma as previously mentioned: it combines a turquoise top, canary yellow cardigan and black ribbon belt to draw it all together. A very risky combination which I’m sure, you’ll appreciate that unless carried out in the right conditions can go dangerously wrong.

In terms of office-wear, Celine as ever has some particularly beautifully cut ensembles including a gorgeous dark grey tweed skirt-suit. Boots also make their mark on Celine and indeed, black leather knee high flat boots dominate. I do however feel that the absence of black tights leaves something wanting perhaps because I have become accustomed to the sight of covered legs. I personally however, would definitely include these with most skirt-suit outfits (it looks particularly scrumptious when teamed with beige).

For casual wear, Michael Kors is one of my favorite designers season after season. Yet again, he captures the feel of the essence of Autumn 2006 combining yellow tartans with jean as well as offering gold and red evening gowns. There is something for everyone here. But what annoys me slightly about Mr Kors is that it feels as if he’s always on the edge of making it big time. While his peripheral nature is considered more attractive my by some, one feels that his designs are always a little apprehensive resulting in a certain stiffness in creativity which prevents him from going the distance. His looks always fit the mood to perfection but never quite develop the mood in themselves. It’s a terrible shame, as I would probably love his designs in and out of context. 

There is very little one can reproach Ralph Lauren in contrast. His creations will leave you feeling like you’ve just stepped out of a country tale. Absolutely gorgeous greens in some particularly fabulous materials: suede, fur trimming, leather and tweeds. The roll-neck dress in particular with gold belt is a timeless and effortlessly elegant look.

His blue tartan gowns are a perfect way to start our scan of eveningwear. With stunning brooches pinned to the right hip seemingly holding the dress together, the movement of the fabric and the way it drapes over the body encapsulate the pampering and femininity of the season. For something a little different perhaps, Julian MacDonald stands apart from the rest and hasn’t jumped on the bandwagon of either excessive layering or monochromaticism. Although I had never noticed it previously, I admit there is a certain honesty about his designs. It’s uncompromising and one feels that when he draws and puts the cloth to the model, he puts his heart into it. That may be the shape or the flow of the design, but he has instinct for what the woman wants in a way which few designers do. In a time of greys and brocades, he gives us purples, turquoise, feather trimmed diamante blues silks. Simple luxury.

There truly is something for everyone with season. But is it wrong that I’m beginning to feel slightly nostalgic for the slightly harder edged designs of the 90s? These were perhaps less flattering but there was an excitement and frenzy in fashion which we don’t quite have this season. At all. Nevertheless, by Christmas 2006, we will have spent months dressed elegantly and femininely- there’s hardly much to complain about there.


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