We can all admit that 2020 was not our best year. Many of us had to isolate ourselves due to the never-ending global pandemic caused by COVID-19, along with many horrific events that have placed a dark cloud over us throughout the year. Now, with 2020 behind us, we all hope for a brighter future in 2021 as the world begins to reopen. Soirees, events, gatherings, and weddings are all taking place (safely, of course!), but has fashion transitioned from the isolated at-home style back to eveningwear? From December to February, many brands have chosen to present their Pre-Fall 2021 collections to continue the cycle of fashion consumption to create newness and innovation in this unique time. With this shift in demand for sweats and athleisurewear, brands have this added pressure of combining their design aesthetic with the need for comfort and ease styles.
Can there be a happy medium of comfort wear that has a subtle mix of cocktail attire? Or is eveningwear becoming less available as some parts of the world remain in isolation? With so much uncertainty, designers are using this time to tap into their creativity to produce pieces that fit a shoppers’ current lifestyle while also introducing new variations of bestsellers to increase occasion dressing. While pre-fall isn’t the most definitive for much innovation, there are some brands, we loved this season, that made amazing strides to combine elegance and comfort for their clients.
La Double J
According to the designer, JJ Martin, her approach to La Double J’s pre-fall collection was to “mood-boost it to the hilt.” Under the present circumstances, with energy levels not at their peak, a mood-boost is much needed. Playful headdresses looked entirely smart for a WFH situation, a vast catalog of pin-up style turbans, scrunchies in technicolor prints, along with barrettes emblazoned with the words “Ciao Babe”.
Additionally, an introduction to a new athleisure line, replete with a practical and fun array of second-skin stretchy leggings and bodysuits, terry cloth ponchos, and paper-thin windbreakers and anoraks in waterproof nylon. All of them boasted all-over prints in head-spinning new in-house patterns, which Martin added this season to La Double J’s archival design options. New silhouettes were, also, included for occasion dressing, flounced, and tiered; their versatile and feminine silhouettes created a mix of elegance for the middle of winter events or a beach in the Bahamas
At first glance, it looked like a typical Erdem aesthetic: romantic fil coupe floral dresses, neat tonal floral jacquard skirt suits, and delicately hand-embroidered evening numbers fashioned in things like hammered silk. He then gained inspiration with cameos from the humble men’s wardrobe, such as big mohair cardigans, rugged trench coats, and stompy gardening boots, all derived from Mitford. Erdem’s aristocratic affair with his contemporary values was a pragmatic nature of the pre-fall collection, which reinterpreted the female shape, their lives, and their moments.
For pre-fall, the designer duo of Proenza Schouler, Jack McCollough & Lazaro Hernandez, explained, “celebrates the joy of dressing up, while injecting a strong sense of ease.” After years of more minimal collections, they interjected their creative conceptual side to drive their pre-fall looks. A halter dress in fine, gauge crochet with graphic stripes tracing the neckline, hands-on touches that include deep lengths of fringe on knit skirts, and asymmetrically placed mismatched buttons on closely fitted, unstructured blazers worn with puddling bell-bottom pants. In normal circumstances, these pieces would be perfect for that summer vibe but now we are optimistic about wearing them year-round.
A whole new social purpose for fashion design where need/desire has suddenly opened up between red-carpet gowns and depressingly domestic tracksuit-wearing. Petrov’s creativity into next summer is noted—chicly-cool-wrapped dresses and slouchy-cut tailoring nuanced for the ways of living and working, women are trying to adapt to.
A pair of trousers, lower-cut on the waist, wider in the leg, appearing to be jeans but are dusty-blue suede. That’s the appeal of offhand stealth luxury that Petrov is reinventing. This 90’s concept turned modern is his strength. A long bias-cut tank dress with a column with a slit in the side matched with a hip-length jacket, in the black leather spaghetti-strap camisole, with some the drapey slouch of wide-leg cream over-the-foot length cargo pants with an oversize safari-pocketed jacket. In hopes of a socially-distanced gathering or a summer holiday, there’s the closely-considered asymmetry of halters and wrapped skirts in scarf prints and a deconstructed white cotton shirt dress that makes this dream of summer vacations an actuality.
Like so many, Eudon Choi has spent much of his time dreaming of exotic holidays. For his pre-fall collection, his eye traveled further afield: to the foothills of the Himalayas, where inspiration from the kaleidoscopic colors and intricate patterns of traditional Bhutanese textiles. Choi’s innovative use of tailoring has helped him loosen up and enjoy the process of creating tabard-like blouses and jackets that felt appealingly protective with a variety of wraps, folds, and knots; meanwhile, a series of maxi dresses in rich azure blues and floral prints offered something more decadent. For all of this imagined globe-trotting, Choi’s pre-fall collection felt grounded in what his customer will be wanting midyear, showcasing his ability to translate these more fantastical instincts into wearable clothes.