May 04, 2013 2:55PM

Oyster Fashion: The Edit

Our favourite things of the season as featured in Oyster #102.

The events of 2012 read like the lyrics to that Billy Joel song: train crashes, flash floods, Hurricane Sandy, no more jobs, bath salts, bomb attacks, 'Gangnam Style' and Kimye's spawn. The headlines were probably no more demanding than any previous years', but it seemed as though they came harder and faster than ever before. It was an inescapable emotional and sensory assault and, as with most economic, cultural and political changes, the fashion industry reacted. Since times got tough in 2008 we've been knee-deep in minimalism. Lines have been harder and fabrics crisper — any liveliness was left to the prints, which exploded on the garments in some sort of digitally produced orgasm. Fashion felt futuristic, but not in the retro way that Courrèges or Paco Rabanne imagined it would — it was more about chic cyborgs and trippy patterns. 

Designers like Phoebe Philo, Raf Simons and Nicolas Ghesquière approached garment construction with architectural precision and, although the look for a season or two was undeniably sharp and impressive, the word 'femininity' dropped out of the womenswear lexicon. Instead the look was rigid: shoulders and sleeves sculpted like car doors, collars so sharp they almost decapitated models, heels skyscraper-high — fashion got fierce, and women wore it like armour. "Don't fuck with us," was the message. "Join a weird trip," was the mantra. 

And then Spring 2013 happened (although 2012's Fall Couture was a hint of things to come). Maybe the designers sensed we were exhausted — weary from a world of constant change and uncertainty, tired of strict wallets and even stricter silhouettes. At Miu Miu, Stella McCartney and Christopher Kane the tailoring was softer; at Céline the suiting was almost slouchy; at Dior, Calvin Klein and Givenchy the waist was accentuated; at Balenciaga, Gucci and Marni there were flounces, even ruffles. The heels were more forgiving as well: at Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs and Miu Miu models sashayed down the runway wearing flats and low heels, secure in the knowledge that they wouldn't trip. 

When Miuccia Prada sent models out in Milan wearing duchess satin, fur stoles and bra tops, it was official: femininity was back. Indeed, in Paris the following week, Maison Martin Margiela presented a collection of red carpet–worthy evening gowns — a previously untapped concept for the house. 

Although there was still an essence of simplicity, the emphasis was on fine fabrics, complex textures and couture finishes rather than unnecessary embellishment. At Calvin Klein the raw hems gave the garments a look of unfinished insouciance — the labour was there, but it was hidden. "That's to make it more 'today'; a little more relaxed," said Creative Director, Francisco Costa, at the time. "The insides of the garments are very finished; there is nothing casual about that. The outside needed to have an almost 'who cares?' character about it. I love that the more it is worn, the more character it will have. I love that idea." 

Crisp white was the colour (if you can call it a colour) of the season, and any prints were either simplistic — Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Balmain favoured checkerboard patterns — or ethereal and soft. At Dries Van Noten the more masculine styles were still girlish, cut in printed plaid and floral silk organza. The garments moved freely on the body and, like many of the shows that season, there was a sense of peace and quiet — something we had all been waiting for. 

Shop the Dries shoes on OhLike now!

Words: Alice Cavanagh
Photography: Shane Sakkeus