The end-of-season sales – those all-out free-for-alls that end up as a cross between a triathlon, a jumble sale, and an especially vigorous episode of Supermarket Sweep – aren’t conducive environments for thinking clearly about what you really, really want. And, more importantly, what you need for the coming spring/summer season.
But even while wading through the end-of-year cast-offs, there’s the potential to uncover treasure amid what, generally, is a 70-per-cent-markdown load of tat. Those treasures are the few items that, somehow, predict a few of the key trends that are to come. The pieces that give a hint of next season, this season, available now at a fraction of the price.
Of course, a few are stalwart style-staples. Shirts and shirt-dresses rarely fall entirely out of favour. For spring, they’re enjoying something of a renaissance, with everyone from Valentino, to Alexander Wang’s Balenciaga, to Raf Simons at Dior offering their take on the crisp button-down. Topshop’s high-end Unique line got in on the act early with an asymmetric silk shirt-dress that gives Dior’s asymmetric numbers a run for their money, in a springy pastel blue.
Florals are another fixture: Mary Katrantzou, Christopher Kane and Miuccia Prada’s Miu Miu line all bloomed gloriously for next spring/summer. This time, the trick is that blooms are dark, broody and moody. Nothing sweet about them. Again, Unique came up trumps with blown-out, pixelated peony prints, Asos has them in acidic shades, and River Island knitted them into sullen intarsias.
Deluxe sports – more Chanel double-C than JD – is a designer favourite. We’ve seen it take many forms, and it’s reared a baseball-capped head once again next season. Prada, Gucci and Pucci all nailed it in Milan, as did Marc Jacobs in New York, mixing converse with embroidered sweaters. Emma Cook’s satin-panelled autumn/winter sweatshirt (a snip at 50 per cent off) perfectly hits the mix of couture-feel fabric with sportswear detailing.
Raf Simons’ autumn/winter Dior haute couture collection was inspired by world travellers, but the African-influenced section seems to have jutted out, chiming with later spring offers from Phoebe Philo’s Celine and Sarah Burton’s Alexander McQueen collections.
The choice terminology is “tribal” – which leaves the playing-field open to interpretation. Clashing animal prints, raw edges, chunky jewellery and beading. High end or high street, they’re all available now and will carry over to spring with ease.