Tap, swipe, select—touchscreens have become the touchstone of our tech-obsessed world. During New York Fashion Week this past September, Ralph Lauren debuted a sci-fi-like window display at his Fifth Avenue Polo Ralph Lauren flagship, featuring an interactive holographic experience that looked like a scene from Star Trek. But several doors down, Gucci’s new window-design concept—a mise-en-scène splashed with a herbarium rose print inspired by the house’s 2016 Cruise collection—mesmerized passersby with its quiet simplicity and cozy touch. The wallpaper-like pattern covering the chairs, floors and walls could have been ripped from the dressing room of a quirky aristocrat from an era gone by. If home is where the haute is, then fashion has curled up by the hearth this season.
“We’ve been in a cozy cycle,” says Red Godfrey, vice-president of the fashion office at Nordstrom. “People are cocooning up in very tactile, textural fabrics like tweeds and knits.” The Victorian theme also plays a starring role this season, thanks to collections like Alexander McQueen’s that focused on bringing this 19th-century aesthetic back to life—tattered lace and all. At Alberta Ferretti, rich tapestries and brocades ruled, and at Burberry Prorsum, the classic trench got a retro home reno with its decorative wallpaper fabric. Tory Burch combined traditional tapestry with Moroccan wanderlust, while Dries Van Noten’s imperial-inspired tapestry patterns took outerwear to next-level luxe. Even the accessories at Lanvin hit home—the tasselled shoulder-duster earrings looked as though they were nabbed from the drawing room drapes, Scarlett O’Hara style.
At No. 21, Alessandro Dell’Acqua reimagined 19th-century tapestry scenes into embroidered jacquards on pastel knit coats, and marble grains into brushed mohair. (Think Victorian reserve but with hemlines that would’ve made Queen V blush.) Rebecca Taylor is feeling these vintage vibes, too. The New York-based designer recently launched a 20-piece Victorian capsule collection, which includes a floor-scraping floral dress and several hauntingly beautiful lace tops. “All of these pieces are extremely detailed; we design the embroidery in-house,” says Taylor. Unlike actual vintage clothing, this collection is made for women who don’t spend time whittling their waists with corsets. “If you buy vintage, it’s going to fit you in an odd way. They had these pigeon-like bust lines going into tiny waists,” she says. “It’s about reiterating the embroidery and designs and putting them into modern silhouettes.” For Taylor, this means pairing one of her lacy Victorian-inspired blouses with a tailored menswear pant to give her look a boy-girl spin.
Texture messages may be fashion’s preferred method of communication this season, but designers have done all the decoding for you so nothing gets lost in translation.
“Upholstery fabrics are a different grade, thickness and weight,” says Andrea Lenczner, who, along with Christie Smythe, designs Canadian label Smythe. “The one we use, even though it’s a jacquard or wool, comes from a mill that specializes in textile design for apparel,” says Smythe. “Even then, we’ll sometimes say, ‘This reads too home instead of fashion.’” The A-line opera coat from the duo’s Fall 2015 collection hits all the right notes with its rich colour and needlework-like weave. Another topper from the same lineup looks like a groovy-glam ’70s wall hanging.
Mary Katrantzou knows a thing or two about pushing the limits in the material world. The London-based designer, known for developing unique digital prints and fabrics, included Victorian brocade alongside innovative elements like a bath-mat bodice and pink foam packing material fashioned onto coat pockets for fall. “People don’t realize how much textiles affect the silhouette. You develop a fabric and you realize it only wants to do a certain number of things,” says Katrantzou. “You have to do what the fabric wants to do, or else it won’t be wearable.”
The Room at Hudson’s Bay in Toronto carries Katrantzou and a number of other high-end labels like Giles and Giambattista Valli that have cozied up to home interior textiles this season. “As much as I believe in the fantasy and the extravagance of fashion, there’s the realism of, ‘Will somebody actually be able to wear that fabric?’” says Nicholas Mellamphy, vice-president and buying director of The Room at Hudson’s Bay. “When I look at fabrics that are more out of the box, I make sure they can be incorporated into our clients’ lives.” No doubt, Simone Rocha’s luxe brocade capes are flying high—and off the racks. For those who favour slopes over sidewalks, an Aspen-ready fur coat from Caroline Furs is your ticket to chalet chic—throw in a luxe fur throw and a crackling fire, too. But this season’s sartorial history lesson isn’t only for the haute. “You can get a gorgeous furnishing-inspired print piece from a brand like Eliza J at Nordstrom, which is more accessible,” says Godfrey. Guaranteed, it will become your holiday go-to, and, surprisingly, add fizz to your wardrobe long after the ball drops on New Year’s Eve. “Pair a brocade skirt with a cute sweater and some menswear flats—it looks gorgeous for day,” she says. Timeless, too. Opulent fabrics put the royal into ready-to-wear—no drafty castle required.
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