Just back from the second part of my buying trip for the Autumn/Winter season. There are some very interesting developments among the fashion houses that I find really encouraging.
The big story for us is that a number of the smaller companies, from whom we have traditionally bought, but who had recently gone chasing the more glitzy style required in the emerging markets, have realised that they are losing their more tasteful clients and have started to change tack again.
They are now promoting the hand-finished craft nature of Italian production as a distinctive advantage over those ‘Italian’ brands which do very little of their production in Italy. And they have started to bring in a new generation of designers who can add a younger direction, but under the watchful eye of the artisans.
Among the better (and usually smaller) companies, styles are becoming simpler. Comfort Chic is back in a big way – a no frills approach to luxury which focuses on beautiful cuts in beautiful fabrics which are truly designed and made in Italy. One company has even started to insert a little computer chip into the label of its clothes as a kind of proof of Italian manufacture (more on that soon).
This is all excellent news – these companies were never glitzy enough for the emerging markets, and were falling between the two stools of style and bling. Now they appear to be stepping back to what they do best and starting to fill the gap they had left in tasteful clothing.
In particular, there is some incredible knitwear coming from Lorena Antoniazzi and Cividini (and I mentioned Malo in my post after my first trip). Their use of luxury yarns enable really pretty colours and figure-flattering cut.
There’s still very little quality tailoring around for women, however – and once again Sfera, which has been flying out of the shop again this season, will be the backbone of our collection next season. There are lots of long sleeved dresses, cut to fit the figure whether it’s size 8 or 18 in beautiful stretch jersey fabrics. Fabrics continue be slightly thicker with more texture.
The predominant colour is a soft-grape, almost amethyst, which looks gorgeous on all skin colourings.
We expect trouser suits to make a bit of a revival in popularity. Although they are slightly more masculine in style than skirt suits, they are done in a very feminine way – more fitted and with interesting lapel detail, for example.
There are lots of boots around for next season and heels have got much lower – which is good news for those of us who prefer to walk rather than teeter. Colour-wise, there’s a fabulous anthracite grey to go with the greys, browns and amethyst/grapey colours of the clothes.