Essential Trends From Fashion Week’s Spring 2021 Season
There have been complaints about the spring 2021 collections. People kvetch in group chats and Twitter threads that digital shows are not as good as the real thing—and that the real thing is not as good as it used to be. That’s one way to look at the current situation, but there’s a thrilling upside to this fragmented season: We are experiencing something actually new. In an industry that hews so passionately to tradition, heritage, and status quo, how exciting is it to feel that after seasons of talk, we are finally on the precipice of real, tangible change? That change will hopefully take many forms beyond a democratized digi-physical fashion week, but this season of shows has been a good start.
The biggest shift in the garments that flashed across our screens is that, for the first time in a long time, these looked like clothes that are meant to be worn. The irony and irreverence of all those seasons dancing on the lip of a volcano in cake topper gowns has given way to something more thoughtful and realistic this season. There is an intimacy in the second skin knitwear seen at Rick Owens and Thebe Magugu and in the textural and hand-worked materials used by Kenneth Ize and Loewe’s Jonathan Anderson.
The many stylish sweatsuits, long tunics, and ballooning trousers at Prada, Fendi, and Louis Vuitton offer forgiveness and elegance for bodies at rest. The peaked shoulders at Balmain and Balenciaga will cut through space with glamour and a bit of grit, while the exuberant everyday clothes seen at Molly Goddard, Marni, and Dries Van Noten guarantee big sparks of joy packaged in the tried-and-true form of jeans, cardigans, and midi-skirts. Dresses are pouf-sleeved and vaguely ’40s in shape at Rodarte, Coach, and Chopova Lowena, a silhouette comfy enough to wear at home and beautiful enough to toss on for a socially distanced dinner.
At one of the season’s most anticipated debuts, Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons spoke about creating a new uniform. Their sweatsuits, a marriage of Prada’s full-skirt silhouettes and Simons’s graphic tendencies, feel like the right style for our slouchy present. Balenciaga, Rodarte, and Collina Strada have playful takes on sweats too—though maybe only Matthew Williams’s Givenchy hoodie (the season’s other anticipated debut) qualifies as black tie.