Trends come and go, but the mark of a real, lasting shift in women’s tastes is when you see a fall trend immediately become the dominant street-style look of the spring season. That was the case for one of this month’s biggest messages, which we’re calling haute bourgeois or, more colloquially, the new Celine effect. Hedi Slimane’s Fall collection for the French house revisited its ’70s heyday with pleated skirts, lean blazers, knee-high boots, and ladylike blouses, all of which became the uniform for many women this season. It’s easy to see why; the look is simple but not minimalist and feels oddly refreshing after years of louder statements.
On the complete other end of the spectrum were looks that captured the energy of fashion’s new wave of designers, the upstart talents who are designing for the next decade—and the next generation. Experimental doesn’t feel like a strong enough word to describe what Eckhaus Latta, Telfar Clemens, and Vaquera are doing, though it’s happening at the major houses too, from Balenciaga to Gucci. It’s a boundary-pushing, gender-bending, can’t-quite-put-your-finger-on-it kind of cool, and we saw more of it on the streets than ever this season (and, more importantly, on people we’ve never seen before).
Those are just two extremes we saw outside the Spring 2020 shows in New York, London, Milan, and Paris, with other trends fitting somewhere in between, from shades of beige to electric neons and quite a lot of stylish guys too. We’ve distilled all 914 of Phil Oh’s photos from the month down to the eight biggest trends, below.
Who would’ve thought a pleated knee-length skirt would be the season’s new must-have? We saw women in straight-off-the-runway Celine versions, as well as vintage skirts—the point is you can’t tell the difference—often with tie-neck blouses, trim blazers, and knee-high boots. Others traded skirts for sleek trousers, neatly accessorized with a top-handle bag; on both counts it was an elegant, straightforward pivot from the überstyled, good-taste-meets-bad-taste vibes that dominated fashion for so long. It makes getting dressed a breeze too.
Shades of Beige
An extension of the bourgeois trend, the Fall 2019 runways were awash in beige, taupe, and camel. The only way to wear it right now is head to toe, a trend we saw in the form of easy tailoring, jumpsuits, dresses, and the most classic beige item of all: the trench.
The Full Spectrum
For those of us who’d rather stay home than wear a camel blazer, bright colors were a retina-searing riposte. Typically we saw them on otherwise simple items, like Adut Akech’s sweater and slip skirt, and they made an easy, bold statement mixed together: cobalt and emerald, lemon and fuchsia, teal and orange. Let these photos be your inspiration for the gray winter days ahead; nothing lifts the spirit like a neon-pink sweater.
Thanks to the influence of London designers Molly Goddard and Simone Rocha, a romantic, ruffled, exaggerated dress has evolved from a trend into a veritable wardrobe staple. For some women, like Vogue’s Lynn Yaeger (pictured here with Goddard), it’s something of a uniform. We saw women in expansive tulle frocks by Goddard and voluminous, layered confections by Rocha, as well as simpler versions in black or white. What stands out is how women are wearing them: offhandedly, with boots or sneakers—not five-inch stilettos.
The Next Gen
It’s tempting to call these looks punk, but that would suggest a nod to the ’70s and ’80s, and this is something different. Sure, some of the details have been revived from that era—studs, spikes, plaids, heavy boots—but in a way that feels more futuristic than referential. Consider it a glimpse of how fashion will continue to evolve in the 2020s, fueled by forward-thinking designers like Eckhaus Latta, Telfar Clemens, Alessandro Michele, and Marine Serre.
Another trend that came from the Fall 2019 runways was shorts—and we mean real shorts, not stretchy biker shorts. The best ones we saw on the streets were knee-length and generously cut, almost like culottes, and in rich materials like leather. These aren’t just for casual Fridays: Women wore them to the month’s biggest shows, like Valentino and Chanel.
We’ve Got Male
Just as the Spring 2020 menswear shows had more women in the audience than ever before, we saw more guys than usual at this month’s ready-to-wear shows. Or at least more stylish guys. Most of the men Oh photographed, like Yu Masui, were dressing along the more experimental lines we mentioned earlier; others got into gender-bending territory, like Cody Fern; and some had looks all their own, including George Clinton and Casey Spooner.
Taking Up Space
Despite the overarching return to simplicity in street style—we saw a lot of button-downs and easy dresses—there’s always a desire for truly wild and surprising statements. This month it came in the form of twisted, oversized, and trompe l’oeil silhouettes, like Michelle Elie’s knotted Comme des Garçons look (we can always count on Elie!); Cardi B’s bulbous Thom Browne suit; and Masui’s Doublet coat with shoulders so exaggerated they completely obscured his face. From behind the effect was startling, like he was actually headless. What’s fashion if it isn’t a little freaky?