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These are the latest and greatest styles for 2016/17

PUBLISHED: 10:00 16 August 2016 | UPDATED: 10:00 16 August 2016

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EXG SEP 16 FASHION MAIN

Archant

Fashion industry commentator and writer Melissa Wheeler picks out the latest styles hitting our streets in the AW16/17 collections

There’s a certain hype surrounding the arrival of the autumn collections. From London Fashion Week’s seismic reverberations through to the ‘back to school’ mood of the high street as normality resumes after our summer holidays, ‘fall fashion’ has always been a key date in the industry calendar. You only need to watch RJ Cutler’s Vogue-centred documentary, The September Issue, to note the energy surrounding fashion as summer and autumn merge.

Every year when September rolls around, the fashion magazines we love most seem to grow in size and hype. Who will have the largest issue? Who will have the coolest cover? Who, essentially, will deliver the best September issue? But lost beneath all of this speculation is the question of why this time of year is so important in the first place.

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Aside from the reasons mentioned, there is a sense in which the population breathes a sigh of relief as the madness of summer departs and order resumes. September signals the end to ‘summer madness’ and evokes a fresh start, with the school year beginning and work revving up again. Many fashion followers consider this a time of renewal and transformation. And what better way to mark a new start than through one’s wardrobe?

So, what’s in store for AW16/17? As ever, last season’s themes are self-evident, but the green shoots of new influences stand proudly as they mark the new season. Here’s a distillation of the key themes and styles to look out for in and around Essex.

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Flamboyant femininity

Flouncy frills, velvet jackets, blouses with ruffles, long sleeves and peplums all add drama and romance to this season’s collections, but the hawk-eyed will notice the modern edge to the prim high necks and dainty florals. Echoing the lace and broderie we’ve been accustomed to for a couple of seasons, this Victoriana theme takes a ‘moodier’ tone for autumn 2016, all sexed-up with a cinched waist. The ‘underwear as outerwear’ trend embraced by the high street this summer has been translated for womenswear with sublime, maxi slip dresses which can be teamed with leather jackets or long coats for alternative interpretations.

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Back to the Nineties

Womenswear has drawn heavily on the most popular aspects of 1990s fashion and nowhere is this more evident than in the return of the Puffa jacket and bomber jackets. Versatile for all ages and innately practical, these iconic quilted jackets will make a welcome return to the high street. On a more sophisticated level, exaggerated length and proportions echo this 1990s influence as interpreted in statement coats and wide trousers while chunky, oversized knitwear is sure to be a winning, failsafe option for a more casual option. Autumn will also mark the point at which metallics gain mainstream appeal everywhere from accessories through to quirky casual clothing and evening wear.

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Military and Tailoring

Exaggerated proportions continue with sharp tailoring and the distinctly military flavour to the autumn collections. A fresh take on the ubiquitous military tailoring we have seen for the past few seasons, look out for army green patch-pocket coats with sexed-up belted and cinched waists or tailored boyfriend coats with design-driven waist-high slit sides. Such fighting spirit and attitude can also be seen in slick, glossy leather coats and biker jackets which show no sign of surrendering their stronghold on our wardrobes.

Chic Simplicity

There is a welcome eccentricity and simplicity to the colours and silhouettes of many premium womenswear labels. Proportion play defines much of the newness. Smart trousers are high waisted and extra wide, coats are sleekly tailored and elongated to shin-skimming lengths, and midi-skirts are pumped up in an exaggerated A-line shape. Velvet – the key fabric on the autumn 16 catwalks – lends a luxe feel to dresses and outerwear, while the bohemian air of flouncy floral maxi-dresses can be tempered by military-influenced jackets. Pared-back dresses continue the look of understatement with some sweeping high-collared, long-sleeved maxi-dress in on-trend velvet sure to be best-sellers. Highlights from coat styles include belted wool trenches, metal-buttoned military styles, transitional waterfall collar coats and roomy, collared capes.

Tactile Trends

Autumn is a playground for fabric and a joy for those who love something tactile for the cooler months. The key fabric for autumn 2016 is undoubtedly velvet, which will feature heavily in various collections from formal occasion wear through to grunge-inspired, off-duty looks. Leopard spots bring life to furry outerwear and will be an easy way to embrace the new season with a catwalk hero item. Also worthy of note is the non-conformist attitude to fabrics generally. Many brands will be styling eccentric contrasts of fabrics, prints, colours and textures together with adventurous layering. A key take-away here is independence of spirit and the modern twist to retro styles and heritage influences – power dressing with a difference.

Fashion is not about rules and should certainly never be about following trends slavishly. Essex enjoys a diverse social scene and an abundance of fashion retailers from which to refresh your wardrobe, update a look or pick up spontaneous seasonal finds. When Vogue began to replace its cover upermodels with celebrities – under Anna Wintour’s reign – it marked a shift in public attitude. We want to see ‘real’ women – albeit highly successful ones – wearing clothes which echo their personality or enable them to play a role. Ultimately, that’s what fashion is: a vehicle through which ‘real’ women can embrace their true selves, adopt the persona they want, raise their self-esteem and reflect whatever mood or status they choose. There is no right or wrong, but a great retailer can make sure that a customer chooses the styles which flatter them best and leave them feeling fantastic as they walk out the door.

So, as the new collections fall into the boutiques of Essex, be sure to use the opportunity to renew, refresh and re-engage with the hype and fun of fashion as it comes to harvest.

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