Designers worked in exceedingly unusual circumstances, in a vacuum, catering to an audience whose lives are forever changed—and ultimately showed their collections virtually or in very intimate settings. And yet, creativity reigned. For fall 2021, the collections fell in line with the times by embracing that new outdoor après-ski life, prepping for a new-wave Roaring ’20s, finding stability in LBDs, and keeping comfort key in elevated knitwear. See what’s in store for next season in 13 trend stories and shop key piece to add to your wardrobe now. There’s a Saint Laurent dress we’ll be dreaming about until it makes its way home to us and a Bottega Veneta puffer coat we simply can’t enter colder weather without.
She’s a Rich Girl
What do you get when you layer sequins on sequins on sequins? The kind of 1920s-meets-1980s opulence that just puts a girl in a good mood. The look is glimmering but covered up (these aren’t club dresses; they’re a statement on a mood)—think: long trousers, high necks, jackets, and voluminous dresses. Dries Van Noten, Paco Rabanne, Valentino, Loewe, and more skipped the minimalism in favor of something optimistic and grand with a clear message: Let your light shine, ladies, the future is looking bright.
Pictured from top to bottom: Loewe, Connor Ives, Giorgio Armani, Prabal Gurung, Dolce & Gabbana, Carolina Herrera, Erdem, Isabel Marant, Prada, Valentino, Markarian, Givenchy, and Alberta Ferretti.
Sequined Velvet Midi Dress
This dress was made for making an entrance at every fall and winter event you have. Sorry in advance for showing you up, brides.
A Little Off Color
Saturated shades have entered the conversation. The color play is off-kilter, slightly skewed, and unexpected—a little like life itself. It’s mustard meets lemon at Jil Sander, bubblegum pink and marigold at Miu Miu, rust and lavender at Patou—complementary and secondary hues of the color wheel all mixed up and topsy-turvy. All the better to make you look twice.
Pictured from top to bottom: Jil Sander, Oscar de la Renta, Loewe, Akris, Prada, JW Anderson, Roksanda, JW Anderson, Miu Miu, Alberta Ferretti, Patou, and Tory Burch.
Lena Faux Leather Midi Skirt
Pair this with lavender and never look back.
Tailored on Tailored
There’s no other way to say it: The look in tailoring now is nothing short of smart. Designers aren’t going halfway—button-downs are layered under vests, over turtlenecks, under jackets, under long coats, over trousers—and sometimes belted and finished with a tie. These ensembles are paired not with pumps or sneakers, but loafers and boyish shoes. In other words, this isn’t about subverting classic pieces; it’s a literal take. Tory Burch, The Row, Prada, and Peter Do are leading the charge for ladies who like to layer their loose tailoring—and then layer it some more.
Pictured from top to bottom: Peter Do, The Row, Wales Bonner, Tory Burch, Nehera, Gucci, Valentino, Lemaire, Prada, Giada, Giulvia Heritage, and Brunello Cucinelli.
Pinstriped Wool Vest
Layer this over a button-down, under a blazer, with jeans, or coordinating trousers. It will quickly become the wardrobe MVP you never knew you needed.
If any lesson was learned from the year 2020, it’s that when given the option, people will choose comfort—every time. Let them eat cake! Or rather, let them never have to button a button again and outfit them in luxe knitwear in the form of skirts, maxi dresses, and two-piece sets. Cozy need not mean lacking polish in the deft hands of Gabriela Hearst, Altuzarra, and Proenza Schouler, all of which are offering cashmeres and wools in body-aware silhouettes that are endlessly flattering and fit for an evening in or out.
Pictured from top to bottom: Rick Owens, Proenza Schouler, Ulla Johnson, Zanni, Thakoon, Victor Glemaud, Jonathan Simkhai, Gabriela Hearst, Altuzarra, Loro Piana, Fendi, Salvatore Ferragamo, Chloe, and Adam Lippes.
Striped Cashmere Maxi Dress
Chic but cozy is our ideal intersection.
Keep your après-ski in check with Fair Isle knits that just beg for a weekend in Aspen or Gstaad. Cropped or cardi, in classic shades or bright pinks and reds, these cozy knits pack a visual punch. It’s statement sweater dressing for living that ski-in/ski-out life. Perhaps it’s a nod to the intrinsic nature of socially distant slopes, or an embrace of a max exodus to the country. However you twist it, according to Miu Miu, Chanel, Balenciaga, and Junya Watanabe, next season is all about that cozy ski sweater life.
Pictured from top to bottom: Rag & Bone (First row), Molly Goddard, Junya Watanabe, MM6, Etro, Balenciaga, Paco Rabanne, Dsquared2, Rentrayage, Chanel, and Vivienne Westwood.
While truly apres ski appropriate, it will look equally good on teh city streets.
Roaring ’20s Redux
For those who subscribe to the idea of a new Roaring ’20s on the horizon, you’ll be perfectly outfitted for the occasion. Flapper dresses abound in classically executed silks and lace from Khaite and Kwaidan Editions. More modern iterations can be found at Kim Jones’s new Fendi and Gabriela Hearst’s new Chloé. Layered under long coats at Miu Miu and Paco Rabanne, or with a grunge-tinged ’90s take at Coach, these nightie-inspired dresses are made for the nightlife.
Pictured from top to bottom: Atlein, Miu Miu, Jil Sander, Coach, Dries Van Noten, Khaite, Paco Rabanne, Kwaiden Editions, Judy Turner, Vaquera, Fendi, and Chloe.
Silk-blend slip dress
A classic silhouette that feels utterly current. We love it in this subdued shade.
Puff, Puff, Pass
The puffer coat is only gaining momentum. In bold, brash colors like deep purple at Marni or red leopard at Dolce & Gabbana, these are not the classic black puffers you’ve been sporting. They’re high-fashion down pieces designed to make an entrance—in neutral extra-long versions at Rick Owens or on a Victoriana gown at Thom Browne—you’ll have your pick and stay extra warm all season long.
Pictured from top to bottom: Eckhaus Latta, Chloe, Roberto Cavalli, Tom Ford, Miu Miu, Tod’s, Balenciaga, Ottolinger, Marni, Khaite, Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, Rick Owens, and Thom Browne.
Quilted cotton down puffer coat
Somehow very warm and very cool at the same time.
And the new silhouette turning all the heads comes by way of cropped jackets and tops. These elegant, midriff-baring looks are far from the mini tees of your youth. Sophisticated and chic on a fuchsia pantsuit at Chanel or a menswear look with a twist at Peter Do, and on an utterly ladylike two-piece set at Emilia Wickstead, these short takes are for posh girls only.
Pictured from top to bottom: Chanel, Giorgio Armani, Fashion East, Fendi, Vetements, Emilia Wickstead, Peter Do, and Laquan Smith.
Kalimba Cropped Checked Wool-Blend Jacket
A silhouette that feels entirely fresh—with a dash of plaid for bonus points.
Make It Midi
A long-standing theory in fashion: High hemlines indicate economic prosperity, while long styles convey downturns. In the precarious time that was 2020, it was overwhelmingly the latter. Here to demonstrate this credo are the bevy of midi skirts that dominated the look books and virtual presentations for the fall 2021 season. They are box-pleated at Christian Dior, knife-pleated at Erdem, A-lined at The Row, and flowy at Partow—but all reach midway between the knee and ankle.
Pictured from top to bottom: 3.1 Phillip Lim, Partow, Max Mara, The Row, Rokh, Erdem, Chopova Lowena, Christian Dior, Thebe Magugu, and Loro Piana.
High-rise cotton midi skirt
The perfect work skirt at a length we can get behind.
Keep it Cozy
The optimal word to describe fashion in the past year was cozy. Designers are continuing down this path for fall 2021, but not in the way you would initially think—read: no sweats here. From a cream-colored wool jacket at Chanel to a tan shearling-lined coat at Chloé to a fuzzy hoodie at Christian Dior, our favorite labels have refined these comfy styles, bringing couture cuts to their designs. The fabrics may indeed be plush and the sizes large, but the silhouettes are much more tapered than what is normally expected of winterwear. Indeed, cozy never looked so good.
Pictured from top to bottom: Chloe, Isabel Marant, Erdem, Chanel, Christian Dior, Coach, Akris, Vetements, Thom Browne, Givenchy and Louis Vuitton.
Shearling Ankle Boots
The verdict is in: cozy will never be out of style.
The Suit Coat
The trusted suit has gotten a revamp. Traditionally, the style is composed of a blazer-and-trouser combo; blazer and skirts have also become commonplace. For fall 2021, designers introduced something new into the fold: coats. Instead of fitted jackets, Givenchy, Jason Wu, Proenza Schouler, and more showcased palazzo, paper-bag-waist, flared, or cropped trousers all with elongated toppers. It’s a look that is meant to be worn and fully appreciated outdoors, which we welcome with open arms now that vaccination centers are doing their thing.
Pictured from top to bottom: A Potts, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Zimmerman, Jason Wu, Hermes, Marine Serre, The Row, Proenza Schouler, Balmain, Givenchy, and Chanel.
Double-Breasted Camel Coat
We don’t requite a coat to command respect—but this one couldn’t hurt.
The future is bright, bold, and primed for attracting attention. Here to herald this message are fashion designers. From Thebe Magugu to Simone Rocha to Nicolas Ghesquière at Louis Vuitton, many presented collections with wild, wonderful prints. Magugu, for example, referenced mysticism in the pattern of a sleek suit; Ghesquière brought the Louvre’s paintings to life; and Rocha went for Baroque with romantic florals. Come fall, we are going to break free from gray and neutral tones, and bring some vibrancy into our lives.
Pictured from top to bottom: Duro Olowu, Colville, Christian Dior, La DoubleJ, Arthur Arbesser, Louis Vuitton, Loewe, Prada, Moschino, Simone Rocha, Stella Jean, Thebe Magugu, and Victoria Beckham.
Floral-Embroidered Tulle Mini Dress
A print that even the most voracious solids-devotee can’t help but fall for.
Back to Black
LBDs are perennial; they’ll never go out of style no matter how many times we can say black is back. They haven’t left and never will. But what does change is the proportion. Some seasons have the ubiquitous style long and covered in appliqués; others have it prim and unadorned. For fall 2021, the trend de jour is short and super fitted. It’s all about the sultry mini. From tuxedo dresses at Fashion East to babydoll silhouettes at Christian Dior, the rule of thumb is to show legs for days, darling.
Pictured from top to bottom: JW Anderson, Schiaparelli, Fashion East, Dolce & Gabbana, Christian Dior, Carolina Herrera, Giambattista Valli, Versace, Tom Ford and Eftychia.
Wool Bustier Gown
A dress so special you might just have to include it in your will.
Kerry Pieri Digital Fashion/Features Director Kerry Pieri is Harper’s Bazaar’s Digital Fashion/Features Director. Barry Samaha Barry Samaha is the style commerce editor at Esquire, where he covers all things fashion and grooming.
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