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Nicola Mira
Oct 15, 2020
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Womenswear shows: Summer 2021 trends influenced by Covid-19

Translated by
Nicola Mira
Oct 15, 2020

The recent round of fashion weeks, heavily affected by the pandemic, marks a turning point. For the first time ever, fashion labels were able to present their collections to a global audience on the internet: only a third of labels managed to stage catwalk shows, the others opting for video presentations.

Worldwide lockdowns and the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have led the majority of labels to rethink their product range, introducing items that are much more comfortable and minimalistic, ideal for snug, everyday living in the comfort of one’s own home. Indeed, the women’s ready-to-wear collections shown in New York, London, Milan and Paris between September 13 and October 6 2020 reflected a more pragmatic approach by fashion designers, who are trimming down the number of looks and going back to essentials.

Many designers focused on their labels’ DNA and history, and heralded their collections’ inclusivity by choosing plus-size, transgender and pansexual models. This autumn like never before, in this pandemic-ridden world, fashion shows have introduced scores of new faces from every corner of the world.

1. Masks

Rick Owens, Spring/Summer 2021 - © PixelFormula

With the Covid-19 pandemic rampant, face masks have become an indispensable accessory. In the past, a few labels did present masks, with a futuristic vibe like Marine Serre, or for pollution protection. Now, masks have become nearly ubiquitous, not to mention models with veiled faces (as at Thom Browne, Margiela and Victoria/Tomas), or swathed with scarves (Marni) or hidden behind balaclavas, like the metallic ones at Paco Rabanne. For some labels, for example Rick Owens and Eckhaus Latta, every single model trod the runway wearing a mask.

2 Self-protection

Kenzo, Spring/Summer 2021 - © PixelFormula

The idea of self-protection was popular with a number of designers, considering also the need to respect social distancing. A concept that translated into scores of silhouettes hidden behind veils, while some labels developed shelter-style outfits (like Kenzo and Anrealage) and even armoured ones, like Paco Rabanne's long metallic dresses, covering the body from top to bottom. Givenchy featured stiff, square mini-capes with boxy shoulders, enveloping the upper part of the models’ bodies in a protective cocoon. Prada models were swathed in oversize stole-capes, while Fendi opted for comforters.

3. Total looks 

Boss, Spring/Summer 2021 - © PixelFormula

Next summer's collections are truly cutting to the chase, featuring essentials with an emphasis on simplicity and an uber-minimal style, more so than ever. In many cases, all the clothes and accessories for the majority of looks featured the same colour or printed pattern. Or better, the same non-colour, like white or black. As was the case for Thom Browne’s summer wardrobe, which was all white, from head to toes! This kind of total look is ideal for uniform-style women's outfits, especially the omnipresent trousers suit.

4. Black and white

Burberry, Spring/Summer 2021 - © PixelFormula

Black and white combinations, in addition to total looks in white or black, were another aspect of next summer’s predominant minimalism. For example, in chequerboard or polka-dot motifs, prints, matching black and white items, and bi-colour dresses. Of course, this didn't stop designers from tapping a broad colour palette, especially in colour-block mode, featuring both intense and more watered-down hues, with aqua green highly popular.

5. Cocooning

N°21, Spring/Summer 2021 - © PixelFormula

Lockdown and work-from-home situations have left an indelible trace on these summer 2021 collections, designed right in the midst of the pandemic. Although sportswear has been far less prominent on the catwalks in recent seasons, tracksuits and especially hoodies are making a remarkable come-back, and were featured even by a classic label like Max Mara. Also very popular were loungewear items like pyjama sets and dressing gown-style coats.
6. Maxi dresses

Jason Wu opened his show with transgender model Indya Moore - © PixelFormula

Given the prevalent cocooning mood, the notion of comfort has taken an even stronger hold, translating into an extensive array of long dresses, preferably ample and voluminous, suited to all sizes and occasions, all of them notable for their relaxed vibe: bohemian-style and country girl dresses, caftans, and highly practical tunics worn over trousers, another directional trend.

7. Genderless style

Louis Vuitton, Spring/Summer 2021 - © PixelFormula

Inclusivity and diversity have become key values for fashion labels. Underscoring this growing trend, models of all genders, sizes and origins are now seen on the catwalks. Wardrobe-wise, this trend was reflected in gendered outfits that were nevertheless wearable either by men or women, or in unisex clothes, as notably shown by Louis Vuitton, confirming the emergence of this long-term trend.

8. Crop tops and bras

Hermès, Spring/Summer 2021 - © PixelFormula

French high-school girls are currently baring their navels in protest against the ‘politically correct’ outfits they are required to wear at school and, unsurprisingly, crop and bra tops were ubiquitous on this autumn’s catwalks. Tops that leave the midriff bare attained the status of must-have item, and were featured in all collections. Even uber-chic labels like Hermès joined the fray, frequently combining sexy bra tops with demure suits.

9. Lace galore

Christian Dior, Spring/Summer 2021 - © PixelFormula

Designers are giving a fresh twist to grandmother-style lace decorations, delving into wedding trousseaux for embroidered sheets, spreads and doilies, not to mention curtains and crocheted bedspreads, with which to fashion their romantic wardrobes. Embroidered and macramé details, and lace flower appliqué, were featured on all kinds of summer dresses, skirts, trousers, tops and coats.

10. Fluorescence

Anrealage, Spring/Summer 2021 - © PixelFormula

The trend for fluorescent colours, first spotted on the Fall/Winter 2019-20 catwalks, is still going strong, and is ideal for energising outfits, as with the lime-coloured piping on a black lace dress at Francesca Liberatore. At labels like Akris and Anrealage, fluorescent hues added a playful touch, a light shining in the dark to illuminate our gloomy environment.

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