Once a season’s worth of fashion weeks is firmly in the rearview mirror, Instagrammed, live-tweeted and trend-spotted to the far corners of the globe, all that remains is the waiting hammock — the question-filled six-month period of prognostication, bet-hedging and second-guessing between runway and retail. Which trends had legs? Which high-profile pieces turned out to be catwalk-only focus-pullers? And, in every label’s nightmare scenario, what if in the half-year between catwalk and cash register, the world has spun off its axis in some calamitous, unforeseen way that makes the previous season’s pomp and pageantry come off as tone-deaf and out of touch?
Well, September is now upon us, and the fall and winter 2019 women’s ready-to-wear hammock time is over. And the good news is that the over-arching trend — bright, bold-shouldered power dressing — got the collective thumbs-up emoji. In fact, with the Amazon on fire, politics in the gutter and the economy in flux, the eye-catching take on armor feels more appropriate for the women of the world than it did during fashion weeks in February and March.
If you’re looking for a soft shoulder to lean on, move along; there’s nothing to see here. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a shoulder shape that says “lean in” like nobody’s business, you’ve got options. Givenchy’s fall and winter collection was full of jackets with sculpted shoulders and a distinct military vibe; the most memorable among them, a grass-green belted number with rounded shoulders trimmed with a topstitched band ($3,530, available starting this month at Givenchy boutiques, including South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa and in New York).
Balenciaga is another luxury label with a deep bench of strong-shouldered silhouettes marching to retail, the suspended-shoulder jacket in Masai red ($3,500, available for pre-order now online with delivery to stores — including the Rodeo Drive boutique in Beverly Hills — next month).
Rick Owens’ riff on the rounded, ridge-crested shoulder (inspired by Fritz Lang’s 1927 German expressionist sci-fi film “Metropolis”) is served up in a range of silhouettes and fabrications, including a gray cashmere flight jacket ($6,272), a mixed-fabrication shearling bomber ($5,936) and an aluminum silver cowhair bomber with exaggerated flanges (shown above, $7,034), all of which can be ordered online for delivery in early October, with some versions also available at the Rick Owens boutique in L.A.
The fall and winter 2019 Saint Laurent collection, which felt obsessively focused on the angular shoulder silhouette, provides plenty of on-trend non-outerwear options, including a sleeveless geometric riff on the little black dress that features daring, flesh-baring side cutouts ($3,690, online deliveries ship no later than Oct. 15 and bricks-and-mortar stores include the 326 N. Rodeo Drive Saint Laurent boutique).
At Alexander McQueen, creative director Sarah Burton showed us that shoulders don’t necessarily need to be knife-sharp to be big and bold by giving a black, peak-lapel tuxedo jacket voluminous rose-inspired pink silk sleeves ($5,990, available in bricks-and-mortar Alexander McQueen boutiques, including the 457 N. Rodeo Drive location, as well as online).
The softer, more delicate take on the bold shoulder was also a throughline in the fall and winter 2019 Fendi runway collection — Karl Lagerfeld’s final one for the house — the entirety of which is (or will be) available at retail. Among them are a black micromesh jacket ($1,790) in which the lightweight fabrication seems to perfectly balance the padded shoulders and tall collar.
If the silhouettes of the fall and winter runway collections didn’t catch your eye from a mile away, chances are the abundance of bright color — a departure from the traditionally more muted autumnal palette — did. The good news for lovers of vibrant hues is that the rivers of neon yellow and orange and pops of purple and pink have landed at retail too.
Several brands enthusiastically embraced brighter-than-usual shades for fall, including Balenciaga, where shades such as acid fuchsia, raincoat yellow and vibrant turquoise imprinted themselves on the optic nerve; the latter shade making its way onto shell-shaped clutches and kidskin stiletto-heeled booties ($1,190, available at the label’s 338 N. Rodeo Drive boutique). Then there’s Saint Laurent, where a battalion of black-and-white pieces were interspersed with gabardine mini-dresses and feathered tube dresses in fluorescent tangerine. Also, the label’s patent leather belts ($425, available online for pre-order now with deliveries shipping no later than Oct. 15; will also be available at the aforementioned 326 N. Rodeo Drive Saint Laurent boutique) were served up in neon pink or yellow.
Gucci, a label that’s never shied away from bold patterns or color, sent plenty of both down the fall and winter runway, but one of the standouts (not to mention one of the most wearable) was a retro-looking ribbed wool mini-dress with puff sleeves and deeply plunging neckline in fire-engine red ($2,600, currently available at select Gucci stores nationwide and online at gucci.com).
Finally, one of the most memorable pieces to cross the catwalk all season — Dries Van Noten’s shimmering orange faux fur wrap the color of molten lava — is available for $1,300 and stocked at a handful of local retailers, including Opening Ceremony (451 N. La Cienega Blvd.).