Pleating, in various iterations, unfurled as a keynote trend this season. Alexander Wang, for example, offered boxy swatches on miniskirts in New York. Also crimped in Manhattan: Victoria Beckham‘s peekaboo accordion creases. And, in Paris, Phoebe Philo caused a stir with loads of narrow corrugations at Céline. Yet where these designers skewed toward traditional folding, a trio of labels proposed a fancier twist on the technique for Spring ’14 via intricate pleats that mimicked ruffles.
At Delpozo, creative director Josep Font’s barley-yellow trousers, which boasted an arc of frilled pin-tucks, were a standout in his soft, painterly collection. In Paris, Dries Van Noten opened his show with a quiet white frock, the seams of which were embellished with whorls of gilded fabric. Bottega Veneta’s Tomas Maier, too, employed creased ruffles in his Spring ’14 lineup. One dress in particular—a gray-green number vertically veined in bow-like folds—was particularly striking. “I wanted to add texture and dimension in an unusual way,” Maier told Style.com. “The monochrome color, combined with the movement of the pleats, creates this effect.” To construct the garment, Maier and his team blended cotton with a vegetable fiber called ramie, which possesses malleable characteristics akin to copper. The result was a tactile sartorial sculpture.
Is it us, or do sunglasses just keep getting freakier? Thanks to a bevy of designers this Spring ’14 season, it appears that statement making will soon trump solar protection—but for results this OTT, we’re willing to endure a bit of a glare.
In New York, Jeremy Scott offered cat-eyes striped in “We’re experiencing technical difficulties” color-blocks. Prabal Gurung put his own spin on vibrant cat-eye shades, trimming them with asymmetrical shapes. Over in London, Meadham Kirchhoff showed a gilded, bat-wing pair—part The Matrix, part baroque Transylvania. Meanwhile, the XL shields that hid models’ peepers at KTZ could very well double as ski goggles. Across the Channel were, perhaps, the cheekiest iterations of all: Jean-Charles de Castelbajac sent hilarious pursed-lip specs and frames shaped to read “Glamour” down his Paris runway. No doubt, the look-at-me street-style set will be optically satiated come spring.
Crusader is as much of a job descriptor for Vivienne Westwood as fashion designer. And among her agendas, no cause resonates more acutely than her crusade to fight climate change. For Spring ’14, the designer sent out models in plastered-and-fractured makeup at Vivienne Westwood Red Label, the effect of which she likened to animals being “trapped” in the headlights. One look, a strapless brocade dress in pale gold and lavender, topped a ratty T-shirt that read “Climate.” Here, the message rang loud and clear. Moreover, Westwood gave out pre-addressed postcards to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, instructing editors to write down their own ecological apprehensions.
But Westwood wasn’t the only designer who expressed her environmental concerns this season. Christopher Kane showed metallic teardrop cutouts on dresses—”Sterilized petals,” he called them. He also offered diagrammatic outlines of botanicals, paired with blocky letters spelling “Petal” and “Flower.” His wares appeared to place a conscious emphasis on the synthetic over the natural. At Dior, Raf Simons printed slogans such as “Alice Garden” and “Primrose Path” along brightly colored numbers that seemed to suggest a kind of nuclear summer, mutated wisteria included.
Shifting from terra firma to the big blue sea, Kenzo‘s Carol Lim and Humberto Leon addressed the problem of overfishing: In addition to a few fun aquatic prints, there was a T-shirt that read “No Fish, No Nothing.” “The challenges facing our oceans are a global concern,” Leon told Style.com. “The shirt is an effort to help raise awareness through fashion’s strong voice.” A portion of the garment’s proceeds will go to the Blue Marine Foundation, which battles fish-stock depletion worldwide.
Fetish has long been a favorite fashion influence: Alexander McQueen’s Spring ’98 metal-spine corset, Louis Vuitton’s Fall ’11 Night Porter collection, and Azzedine Alaïa’s iconic eighties bondage dresses come to mind. Considering its prominence over the decades, it’s perhaps no surprise that the trend has surfaced again for Spring ’14, only this time around, it’s a bit more subtle—particularly in the collections that have employed plastic or leather shoulder-length gloves.
Thom Browne turned out an haute American Horror Story: Asylum take on the trend, of sorts, in New York, replete with second-skin white latex options. These mitts featured glued-on nails, which lent a synthetic perverseness to the designer’s vision. In London, Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff of Meadham Kirchhoff hit their stride in a mashed-up collection of Jacobean flair and East London kook. Here, too, bicep-brushing gloves appeared (in python, no less). Looser than Browne’s, MK’s proposal suggested something a butcher or welder might don. And in Paris, Jun Takahashi showed a patent black pair at Undercover, which he styled with an anagrammatic top trimmed in a swath of matte black leather. That interplay suggested a charged message: The wearer of these defiant accoutrements is powerful, and entirely uninterested in conformity. Call it sartorial dominance.
Rainbows have long been a source of optimistic marvel, and their distinct ROYGBIV color wheel often makes its way into fashion (remember Alexander McQueen’s multi-tonal butterfly-print maxi worn by Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex and the City 2?), though perhaps not as frequently as we’ve witnessed thus far on the Spring ’14 runways.
Mara Hoffman worked a conic iteration onto a white sheer caftan in New York. Its vividness was nicely balanced by the piece’s black lines, rendered in similar triangular shapes. In London, Ashish Gupta employed his de facto trademark—sequins—on shredded denim in an eye-catching ombr— application that went from violet to sun-kissed gold. Arcing south to Milan, Peter Dundas showed another sequined option for the rainbow warrior at Pucci: a body-con, long-sleeve mini. It radiated with indigo at the collar and hem, and scarlet at its torso. And then, of course, there’s Prada, which employed a Crayola-dyed rainbow along the trim of a fur coat—such a literal take on the motif could only be finessed by Ms. Miuccia herself.