Skip to main content

Looking for a glimpse of the future? Look no further than the best looks from the Fall Winter 2019 fashion shows. New York, Milan, London and Paris all had their high points. Collectively, designers have given us several conceptions about the right fashion for moving forward in turbulent times. What to wear this fall and winter? Our correspondent Julie Chang Murphy breaks down the headlines.

fall winter 2019 fashion month comes to a close

The Paris shows concluded this week, bringing an end to the Fall-Winter 2019 Fashion Month that included Fashion Weeks in New York, Milan, London and Paris.

As the swaths of plaid, leather, satin and bouclé settle, we here at Dandelion Chandelier began searching for the common themes and important trends that we’ll be seeing and buying in about six months.

a moment for Karl Lagerfeld

Before we begin, we want to take a moment to express our admiration of the late Karl Lagerfeld. His presence was palpable at the Chanel show in Paris – full of sass, optimism, beauty, edge and timeless femininity. He will be sorely missed.

The Chanel Fall Winter 2019 Ready-to-Wear Show Photo Courtesy: Chanel

fashion for moving forward in turbulent times

It would be impossible to separate fashion from the context of the collective chaos the world is facing. Starting with Brexit, followed by US politics, then France’s yellow vest protests and the rise of the far right in Italy. Not to mention the potential nuclear threat looming with North Korea and impending ecological destruction…are you with me?

designers discuss a dark future

Yes, we’re still talking about clothes. Understandably, there was lots of trepidation expressed at the shows this year.

Tom Ford, noting that he couldn’t escape the news, spoke of feeling “frustrated and agitated and exhausted.” He, himself did not want to wear anything “particularly challenging or anything particularly aggressive.”

Miuccia Prada spoke liberally about politics backstage at her show, rejecting the late and great Karl Lagerfeld’s quip that the clothes should speak for themselves. “In another century, there would be already war; all the violent parties, violent situations in Europe, racism…I feel really afraid.”

In France, Dries Van Noten spoke in more poetic terms of our dark and strange times. Referring to the florals in his collection, he said “I wanted roses but not sweet rosesroses with an edge, roses for now…because the times are tougher than in the past. So you see the diseases, the black spot, the imperfections.”

Dries van Noten fall 2019 Photo Courtesy The New York Times

what attitude will you adopt as you face the fall?

So does this mean we’ll all be dressing in comfy sweats or body armor or dead flowers this fall?

No, not necessarily. However you decide to interpret the mood and express yourself, there are plenty of options.

Will you go back to basics, ensconced in heritage plaids and rely on the comfort of classic tailoring?

Maybe you’re finally ready to go off the grid completely, joining the frontier-chic women in their wide, open spaces. They’ve been there for a few seasons now, but the they’re still going strong.

If you’re not going down without a fight, there are some clothes with serious witch vibes. Build up that coven and let’s work some magic.

Not sure what to think and do anymore? On the opposite end of the spectrum from the polite bourgeois class are iconoclasts that straddle the realm of sweet dreams and beautiful nightmares. It’s part camp, part fantasy, a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

It’s anywhere but here.

Chloe Fall 2019 Photo Courtesy The New York Times

the best looks from the fall winter 2019 fashion shows

With all of that weight in mind, here are the best looks and key trends to keep in mind as you contemplate your wardrobe for the coming fall and winter.

1. Polite bourgeoisie

The biggest trend to come out of the international fashion weeks was a return to the traditional modesty and heritage of the bourgeois class. Designers found reliability and perhaps, protection, against the ever-changing and absurd modern world through conservative silhouettes, layering, classic plaids. And above all, time-honored and well-made tailoring.

Hourglass silhouettes

At Miu Miu, Celine, and ZImmerman, there was a focus on the hourglass shape with nipped in waists and respectful, below-the-knee A-line skirts.

Ease of movement

Bodies were covered up and protected by easy moving layers, ankle length coats, parkas and capes in neutral colors and monochromatic styling at The Row, JW Anderson, Marc Jacobs and Burberry.

Full Coverage

There was nary a neck in sight. Designers across the board covered them up with high ruffled collars (Givenchy, Balenciaga, Roksanda) or turtlenecks/turtlenecks covered with scarves (Tom Ford, The Row, Gabriela Hearst).

Refined plaids

Though plaids have been associated with punk and grunge culture, this season, designers like LaQuan Smith, Stella Jean and Erdem styled it more for the Greenwich, Connecticut woman chairing her local gala or the English rose at her country estate.

2. Off the grid

Also known as prairie chic, this frontier look is still going strong in fashion. These homespun looks hearken back to a simpler time.

I’m not sure how simple MY life would have been without running water and electricity (and the potential of being attacked by bears.) But I’m assuming it’s a reference to escaping the omnipresence of social media algorithms and the 24-hour news cycle. There’s a wish to return to core values and the optimistic dream of starting a new Utopian society.

Old-time craftmanship

Stella McCartney, Marc Jacobs and Etro showed feminine, flowing dresses with bohemian and vintage qualities: faded florals, patchwork and a crafty mash-up of paisley and tapestry. The work speaks to localized handicraft and small town community where clothing has a story; it is inherently sustainable and lasts for generations.

The Wild West

Isabel Marant, Chloe and Alberta Ferretti presented frontier looks with an element of the western cowboy. Utilitarian cargo pockets, big shoulders, and hardware toughened up the girl on the prairie.

3. Witchy woman

Rick Owens refers to it as “grim glamour.Comme des GarçonsRei Kawakubo created a “gathering of shadows.” And Miuccia Prada was inspired by Frankenstein, the classic gothic romance.

It’s at once insular, evoking mystical secret societies and also, an outward statement of don’t mess with me/us power. The sisterhood is going strong. But they’re not wearing pink pussy hats anymore.

Protective armour

We also saw defined shoulders in this category, combined with sweeping capes, renaissance inspired ruffles and serious head gear from Balenciaga, Rick Owens, Christian Dior, Comme des Garçons and Valentino. Bring on the dark drama. Is there any other kind?

Dark romance

Dying and wilting flowers from Prada and Dries Van Noten combined the macabre with romance. Beauty and love hurt.

Leather goods

Head to toe leather ensembles from 3.1 Philip Lim, Sies Marjan, Tom Ford and Alexander McQueen created a modern archetype of the city witch. Impenetrable, edgy and as always, sexy.

4. Sweet dreams/beautiful nightmares

This year, the Met Gala is recognizing camp as a disruptor in society. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute will be basing their exhibition “Camp: Notes on Fashion” (May 9 through September 8, 2019) on Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay “Notes on ‘Camp.’”

Blurring the line between the high and low, its apparent artifice and frivolity often disguises the fact that it can be a sophisticated tool to subvert the sensibilities of the ruling class.

This is probably how we’d dress if there was nothing left to lose.

Pale pink v. dark red

There was a lot of power clashing, particularly the combination of soft and demure pinks with bold and aggressive reds at Marine Serre, Valentino, Simone Rocha and Ann Demeulemeester, to name a few standouts. There’s an uneasiness about this combination that your eyes eventually adjust to and find some harmony in.

long, strange trips

Other jarring, jolie-laide combinations – particularly those from Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Anna Sui, Tomo Koizumi and Junya Watanabe – jolted us from the monochrome palettes and sensible tailoring of fall. Eclectic, transcendent and ultimately disorienting, we’ll be interested to see how these themes evolve in the coming seasons.

materialism done lightly

Tongue-in-cheek logo and slogan placements, along with tacky and fantastic displays of materialism brought a dose of humor to the overwrought mood. Rodarte, Moschino and Manish Arora, thanks for making us smile- reminding us not to take ourselves too seriously.

see luxury in a new light

Come and join our community! For a weekly round-up of insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier Sunday Read here. And see luxury in a new light.

ready to power up?

For a weekly dose of career insights and advice, sign up for our Sunday newsletter, Power Uphere.

Crediting her training as a cultural anthropologist at Wellesley College, Julie has immersed herself in various industries in the last 15 years including fashion design, event planning, fitness and even investigating police misconduct. Julie lives in NYC where she loves trying every ramen and dumpling restaurant with her husband and three children. She finds joy in bold prints, biographies of fierce women, kickboxing and spending way too long finding the perfect polish color to express her mood.