Conceived, crafted and presented during a time of political turbulence, the Spring/Summer 2018 collections saw designers from across the four fashion capitals unite in their reaction to the status quo, creating truly uplifting clothes, whether that be via colour, texture or pattern. In short, SS18 had it all trends-wise – the message being shouted out loud and clear? Dress yourself happy.
In one big colour story, there was something for everyone thanks to pastels, clashing brights and all-white ensembles making the headlines. If SS17 was all about pink, and red was AW17’s colour du jour, both returned to the fore as part of SS18’s line-ups; the former most prevalently in a sugared shade alongside lilac, cornflower, pistachio and sherbet lemon. As Victoria Beckham attested in her show notes, "delicacy can be strong", the designer serving up head-to-toe pastel looks via trouser suits teamed with untucked shirts and flowing day dresses paired with sparkly heels to prove it. Further appearances on runways including The Row, Max Mara and Valentino, to name a few, however, sealed the deal.
"In one big colour story, pastels, clashing brights and all-white ensembles made the headlines."
Not necessarily served up in isolation, pastels joined the colour clash trend, too, mixed in with Crayola brights. At Valentino, Pierpaolo Piccioli combined tangerine, azure blue and crimson with more muted tones and turned pastel shades bright with exquisite floral appliqué. Roksanda – never one to miss the colour mark – meanwhile, looked to saturated layering, with a two-tone parachute silk maxi worn over azure trousers, and a tangerine blouson-sleeve top teamed with fuchsia tailoring. The return of red elevated looks at Victoria Beckham and Stella McCartney. And Tibi showcased every colour, from sky blue and navy to blood orange, mustard and rainforest green, in easy-to-wear silhouettes made for the modern woman.
As though to cleanse the palette, a summer whiteout saw ivories, creams and crisp whites take to the runways in every iteration, from dramatic gowns at Alexander McQueen to tomboy maxis via oversized T-shirts and blown-out, low-slung skirts at Stella McCartney, and from back-to-business mini skirt suits at Chanel to über-mini dresses in lace at Saint Laurent. No call for criticism, then, when the requisite five white summer dresses make it into your holiday suitcase.
Looking to pattern, autumn/winter's checks made their mark on the SS18 collections, too – call it the long game, perhaps, as designers adjust from a seasonal aesthetic and create pieces to wear wherever you are, all year round. Case in point, Alessandro Michele’s opening Gucci look: a chic double-breasted checked blazer, paired with a clashing pencil skirt. Chanel’s classic tweeds came shredded, fringed and laminated, while tartan was spliced into tailoring or splashed across Clueless-style kilts at Alexander McQueen. Victoria Beckham’s textbook-like grids offered a more subtle approach; most overt, however, was Christopher Bailey’s reclamation of the Burberry house check (thanks, in part, to Gosha Rubchinskiy), which was kicked off in the see-now, buy-now AW17 collection in September and amplified in technicolour for SS18 – Bailey’s swansong for the brand.
It’s to Burberry that one would naturally turn on hearing of the trench coats prevalence on the SS18 runways. Nail two trends at once with the heritage brand’s wet-look styles – the wipe-clean aesthetic came to the fore at Mary Katrantzou, Balmain, Balenciaga and more. But Burberry aside, Valentino, The Row, Victoria Beckham et al demoed deconstructions of the traditional trench, laying claim to the fact that having just one might not be enough.
And with the athleisure movement loosening its grip (although sneakers are still big, literally and figuratively), denim will fill the off-duty void, with Stella McCartney and Clare Waight Keller’s debut at Givenchy serving up acid-washed, oversized styles and Off-White’s bleached denim delivering instant cool. Haute appeal, meanwhile, came from darker denim courtesy of Alexander McQueen, Chloé (Natacha Ramsay-Levi taking her first bow for the storied house in a pair of straight legs) and Max Mara.