Fashion Week Fall 2020 Trends
Bold colors, tailored silhouettes and layered patterns dominated the runways during the Fall 2020 Fashion Weeks. Collections from timeless designers like Marc Jacobs and Chanel were rooted in tradition with clean lines and fresh colors while other collections told stories of humanity in a time of crisis with apocalyptic sets and ominous color palettes. Still other collections seemed to have fallen from the walls of modern art museums, works of art given life on a runway.
Fashion Week as we know it now began in New York City in 1943 but the concept began much earlier in Paris, when fashion brands hired women to wear their clothing during public outings. Paris held their first official fashion week in 1973. Now there are numerous fashion weeks held around the world but, for western fashion, four cities have the biggest, most influential events: Paris, Milan, London and New York. These "Big Four" draw huge crowds of celebrities, models, actors and more. The most recent fashion weeks shows took place in these cities between January 20 and March 4. Counter intuitively, these shows are for Fall 2020, while the Spring 2020 shows were in the fall of 2019, so each show is two seasons in advance. However, because of the internet, social media, 24-hour news cycles, and general uptick in the speed of life, some shows are shifting more towards ready-to-wear or couture for that season.
To those of us not involved in the couture fashion industry, looking through roundups of Fashion Week photos can be a little overwhelming. All of the wild colors, crazy prints, oversized coats and enormous platform heels are cool, but they don’t seem to have a direct translation to the average person. Nobody is going to look at someone wearing an actual enormous avant garde handbag and think, “Ah yes, just what I’ve been looking for to wear to my next parent/teacher conference!”
The beauty of fashion is that— despite the distance between the average person and the runways of Paris— is that eventually those wild designs trickle down to the layman’s big box stores, online retailers and small boutiques. Designers take cues from the runways, then simplify them and adjust them to their own fun and functional yet trendy styles. Check out some of the trends from the Fall 2020 Fashion Week, then keep your eyes peeled for when they start to appear on shelves so you can snatch them up right away!
The Trend: Neutrals Who?
Carolina Herrera photographed by Giovanni Giannoni for WWD // Comme des Garcons, Getty Images // Kwaidan Editions, Getty Images
This season’s runways were filled with bright, solid colors that brought a fresh feel to a traditionally muted season. The entire rainbow was on display, one piece at a time. Color blocking with contrasting, complimentary colors brought new life to otherwise classic looks. Other designers used color to emphasize exaggerated silhouettes, creating particularly memorable pieces. The over-the-top yet understated feel of these designs translates well to the average person’s closet. Hopefully this trend shows up this fall with colorful pieces well past Labor Day, brightening up those gloomy fall months.
The Trend: How many patterns? Yes.
Dries Van Noten, Miu Miu & Marine Serre photographed by Filippo Fior for Gorunway.com
Ever felt like life was too short to wear all the fun patterns you want? Well, maybe that’s what designers were feeling this year, because the runways were overflowing with gorgeous patterns mixed with beautiful textures! Silk floral prints combined with cozy winter sweaters are giving me serious ‘spring can’t come fast enough’ vibes which honestly, I really feel. Sure, some of these look like you rummaged through your grandma’s closet because you didn’t bring enough clothes on your weekend trip and then got too chilly, but that’s why they’re so good. Fashion isn’t supposed to be untouchable and cold! It can be accessible, cozy and still be a look.
The other side of mixing patterns and textures is the more elevated, chic look, that gives you the feeling of looking at modern art. As a whole, the entire piece may be eclectic and seem unorganized, but the closer you look, the more stunning details you notice and the more themes you find throughout. This playful styling is easy to add to your own wardrobe by simply choosing two patterned pieces you wouldn't usually wear together or even by adding a flashy statement earring to an otherwise simple look!
The Trend: Legs for Days
Carolina Herrera photographed by Alessandro Lucioni for Gorunway.com // Marine Serre photographed by Filippo Fior for Gorunway.com // Christian Dior photographed by Alessandro Lucioni for Gorunway.com
Hemlines are rising like the ocean levels! Whether it’s frilly dresses, pleated school girl skirts or ultra-chic jackets, hemlines from many designers fall well above the knee. Tall boots or knee high socks balance out the look, while pairing a short hemline with a classic pump is perfect for getting that trendy leg-for-days look! Even though this trend is technically for fall, jump on it early to perfect your flirty summer styles. Then for fall, add knee high boots or cute tights to make your outfit a little cozier as the temperatures dip.
The Trend: None of Your Business
Altuzarra, Getty Images // Hermes, Getty Images // Alexander McQueen photographed by Filippo Fior for Gorunway.com
Um yes, hello. Women here. We’re done dressing to blend into a man’s business world. Forget fitted ankle pants and a blouse with a sensible heel. Fall 2020 is coming at us with structured blazers in vivid hues paired with long skirts and feathered heels, contemporary pantsuits with knee high boots and cozy knit pencil skirts with cinched cardigans. These striking looks have a singular message: women are powerful and here to be seen as such, on their own terms.
The Trend: [Faux?] Sustainability
Marine Serre photographed by Filippo Fior for Gorunway.com // Balenciaga photographed by Alessandro Lucioni for Gorunway.com // Stella McCartney photographed by Isadore Montag for Gorunway.com
Designers are paying more attention to the environmental and societal effects of the fashion industry, and it’s about time. From deforestation, carbon emissions and waste accumulation to water consumption and pollution, the fashion industry does serious damage to the environment. Not only that, but the fashion industry is notorious for poor wages, dangerous working conditions and endless working hours. During the latest fashion weeks, many notable and smaller designers referenced sustainability in some way throughout their shows. Designer Stella McCartney, a lifelong vegetarian, did not use any genuine leather or fur in her collection and rising designer Marine Serre used upcycled fabrics and showcased models of all ages to emphasize how dangerous climate change is for humanity as a whole. Balenciaga took a more dramatic approach with an actual flooded runway and intense stormy skies that ended by raining fire. Other designers led the way in transparency by disclosing their employees’ wages and the steps they took towards sustainable resourcing.
This all sounds good, sure, but does it really make any difference? Depends on how you look at it. Personally, I see having an influential platform as having responsibility to at least try to do something. Smaller, eco-friendly brands already exist but in order to make that mainstream, larger companies need to start changing as well. The fashion industry is inherently detrimental to the environment and having one carbon-neutral show doesn’t change that, but it does at least start a conversation.
Overall, I'm really excited to see the themes of sustainability and women's empowerment in these shows, especially considering the current state of society. On a lighter note, I also just love all the unapologetically over-the-top colors, patterns and silhouettes. It really felt like personal expression was at the heart of every Fall 2020 show.