March opened as the fashion weeks drew to a close. Paris, always the most feted of them all, was even more highly anticipated for its emotionally charged Chanel show; Karl Lagerfeld’s final curtain for the esteemed fashion house. Their Autumn Winter 2019 show began with a minute’s silence in memory of Lagerfeld. And then, the clothes began to flow down the catwalk flanked by an alpine village featuring picturesque chalets and lots of snow. One of the best things about Lagerfeld had always been his ability to reimagine this space into a fantastical scene, without overshadowing the brilliant design, merely complementing it. Showcasing wide-legged trouser suits and checked tweed coats, these were featured in classic monochrome, interspersed with brilliant shades of fuchsia and blue.
Aside from his influence on design, Lagerfeld also worked to bring fresh, new talent to the forefront of fashion each year, using his expertise to award one special individual with the LVMH Prize. Over the last 6 years, LVMH has used the prize to honour and support young fashion designers around the world, expertly whittling thousands of entrants down to just eight, this year’s decision being the first without Lagerfeld on the judging panel. Interestingly, Delphine Arnault, founder of the prize said that sustainability was a unifying factor amongst all the finalists. “Most of [the finalists] have integrated upcycling in their sourcing strategy,” said Arnault. “First and foremost, [of course], we appraise the creativity of the candidates. Naturally, if it is combined with an ethical and environmental awareness at the service of creation, then so much the better.” One such finalist is Bethany Williams, who had already been recognised for her efforts by the Duchess of Cornwall, who presented her with the second Queen Elizabeth II Award for Design in February.
As luxury fashion continues to inspire, March, unfortunately, saw further misery for the high street. LK Bennett, a firm favourite of the Duchess of Cambridge, announced that they had called in administrators. Linda Bennett, founder of the company in 1990, summed up the mood across the high street when she sent a message to all her staff. “These are difficult and unstable times, and we are doing everything we can to identify the best way forward.” With 39 shops and around 500 staff across the UK, it proves that even a royal seal of approval doesn’t keep your brand safe in the current climate.
The Duchess of Cambridge in LK Bennett
Back to luxury fashion and at Louis Vuitton, they announced that their AW19 Menswear collection, inspired by Michael Jackson, would no longer be available for purchase. The collection, which included several pieces that paid homage to the performer, was shown just a week before the first screening of Leaving Neverland, a HBO documentary accusing Jackson of child sexual abuse. Louis Vuitton and Virgil Abloh, Creative Director for menswear, stressed that the collection had been about Michael Jackson as pop culture artist, but that they found, “the allegations in the documentary deeply troubling and disturbing.”
The Victoria and Albert Museum announced that they would be extending the hugely popular Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition for a further seven weeks, until 1 September. The exhibition, which sold out in 19 days, celebrates the life and work of the famed designer, and includes a special segment on Dior’s love of British culture.
Aside from stunning Dior designs, the papers were full of Ladies Day fashion at Cheltenham Festival. This year theirbest dressed competition was open to both men and women, with guidelines stating that the panel should judge each individual’s “style, originality and how well they have added a splash of colour to their outfit.” It’s certainly always fun to scan the news for wacky, ingenious headwear, which is very rarely seen.
Whereas once hats were the staple of a woman’s wardrobe, nowadays it’s safe to say that jeans have replaced them as a mainstay. March saw Levi’s re-join the New York Stock Exchange having left the public market in 1985. Following on from a popular period of athleisure, where leggings and yoga pants were the accepted norm, jeans have steadily regained their popularity, with Levi’s turnover growing from $4.4bn four years ago to $5.5bn.
As profits soar for some, high on the fashion agenda is sustainability and its saleability. A report commissioned by the governing body of the Italian fashion industry explored this query with 80 retailers across 25 countries, detailing their results in March. Promisingly, the Camera Nazionale Della Moda Italiana’s report found that sustainability has become an essential consideration for the majority of the stores when deciding which brands to stock. Over the next five years, buyers from stores including Barney’s, Saks, and Printemps expect to nearly double their total spending on sustainable products, from 23% to 40%, whilst a quarter had delisted at least one brand because of concerns over sustainability. However, alongside these encouraging results, it didn’t shy away from the negative, highlighting that currently 73% of clothing will end up in landfill or incineration; and that less than 1% of the material used to produce clothes is recycled.
To draw March to a close, Diana Ross celebrated her 75th birthday in such style that we all wish we had received an invite. Dressed in an incredible, orange flamenco style outfit, Ross looked much younger than her 75 years. Also at the event were the Kardashians, dressed to the nines in plenty of sparkle, Beyoncé, and the Ross family itself, including Diana’s daughter Tracee Ellis Ross, star of Blackish, in an incredibly outlandish feathered number. A glittering and colourful finale to the month of March
Tracie Lee Ross
Imagery courtesy of Vogue and PopSugar
About Our Author: Katie Calvert's background is in fashion and textiles with a first class honours degree in Fashion Communication and Promotion and experience in trend, PR and events. She decided to take the plunge back into education in 2015 to complete a Master of Arts in Multimedia Journalism. Using these newfound skills and her love of fashion and culture, Katie has been freelance writing for over a year.