Picking Winners in the Fall Horse Race

It helps to see a lot of clothes over the years to know the ones you like in a new season. That’s what I say when people ask how editors and writers can remember what they have seen over nearly a month of shows. I essentially keep two mental lists, one for the clothes I personally love and the other for looks I think will be relevant. Inevitably, there is some overlap.

For this post, I want to talk about the things I loved from the fall collections, my favorite individual looks from New York, Milan and Paris. And I want to limit the list to three or four picks because it’s more interesting that way. The Cathy Challenge! I anticipate that some of you will be disappointed by my choices and will say, head-scratching: “Is that it? Is that the best you could pick from all those incredible shows?”

Yup. And now tell me your favorites.

The first entry on the mental list was Proenza Schouler’s wool jacquard trousers based on the patterns and colors of Native American blankets. I liked this collection, over all, but I thought the pants offered a completely different look — great silhouette with an oversize black jacket or half-tucked Western-style suede shirt, an update of a traditional pattern that reflects the digital age. The designers, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, struck the right balance between simple design and complex fabrics.

I also loved the ski looks at Jil Sander. After Raf Simons’s couture-influenced spring show in Milan, with its buoyant shapes and electric colors, I thought the ski theme added a sleek sportswear dynamic to the label. The wool trousers come in several flattering shapes, with or without stirrups, and I liked that Mr. Simons showed them with trim-fitting hooded sweaters or loose-back wool jackets that continued his couture story. To me, the sleekness of the Sander collection — and that of Céline as well — cut like an arrow through the cluttered style of many other shows.

Numerous editors loved ’s collection in Paris, and I did, too. The black leather jackets and capes evoked the shape of a Stockman dress form, and yet they were completely contemporary in the way that Mr. Watanabe showed them, with soft black skirts and black jodhpur boots. But I my favorites in the collection were the black georgette dresses with wide leather cuffs and lapels, an exposed zipper up the front. Mr. Watanabe beefed up the georgette by adding subtle panels of black wool felt. I loved the slight 1930s attitude in the shapes.

Those are the looks that remained on my mental short list for the duration of the shows. I might mention a few others: the glamorous day dresses and coats at Miu Miu (not just for young customers, either); Balenciaga’s draped front silk-print dresses; Fendi’s chic version of track pants; the board-stiff sailor pants at Marc Jacobs, with his creamy polyester blouses; Thakoon’s lanky, asymmetrical jacket in mustard tweed with a side-draped skirt, and the new, almost runny-looking silhouette at Chanel, based on a cropped jacket or cardigan over a charcoal blazer with soft wool pants and work boots.

 

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