A clean break
In a season when beige ruled the runways and subtlety quietly trumped excess, we take a look at understated luxury, and what it means for you in 2019.
In her decade as Creative Director at (old) Céline, Phoebe Philo changed how women dressed. As the industry arbiter of immaculate taste, her minimal, discreetly luxurious aesthetic was lauded by buyers, journalists and ‘real women’ (aka all of us) alike.
So, in the wake of Philo’s departure from Céline, and the divisive new direction at the label (now minus the accent) from its Creative Director Hedi Slimane: what is a ‘real woman’ in search of subtlety to do?
First look: Theory - dress / Helmut Lang - jumper / Hunting Season - bag / The Row - leather leggings / Jacquemus - black mules (coming soon)
Second look: The Row - cream top / The Row - cream trousers / Jacquemus - peach shoes (coming soon) / Links of London - friendship bracelet / Faris - mobile earrings
Spring/summer 2019 saw a neutral palette and neat finish prevail, spearheaded by a deliciously oatmeal-y, biscuit-y beige
One word: beige.
In spite of the Philo-shaped hole – or, perhaps, as a response to it – spring/summer 2019 saw a neutral palette and neat finish prevail, spearheaded by a deliciously oatmeal-y, biscuit-y beige. Smashing its perception as the preserve of the pensioner, designers used it in abundance – from Riccardo Tisci’s first collection for Burberry, which was a study in neutral tones, to The Row, where pared-back luxury is the brand’s raison d’être. Stella McCartney, Dries Van Noten and Roland Mouret all presented putty-coloured tailoring, cementing the beige suit as one of the season’s standout items.
The takeaway? Wear it head to toe and don’t be afraid to mix your tones – a hint of caramel with your latte, if you get our gist.
And what about off the catwalk?
Lady Gaga, whose typically OTT red-carpet looks have brought us the ‘meat dress’ and numerous digestion-compromising body stockings, surprised fashion commentators at this year’s Critics’ Choice Awards with her strikingly simple blush silk-crepe gown by Calvin Klein. In November 2018, a collective fist bump went out from women nationwide when Emma Thompson wore a relaxed navy Stella McCartney suit with white Stan Smith trainers (a classic Philo-inspired move) to collect her damehood at Buckingham Palace.
How to accessorise quiet luxury in 2019?
Forget anonymous 90s minimalism; it’s all about confidently cultivating your own sense of style. So, while neutral ready-to-wear presents a blank canvas, your accessories are where you can add the final flourish of colour – literally or metaphorically.
Artisanal jewellery (this season, look to Ejing Zhang’s handcrafted resin earrings and Laura Lombardi’s recycled gold hoops), sculptural shoes, giant sunglasses and objet d'art bags tell a story, serving as style souvenirs from a life well-lived. Whether it’s a silk printed scarf peeking out from beneath a suit lapel, or a flash of a bright orange Loewe feather adorning a bag, it’s a good idea to throw in a few surprises now and then. After all, subtle and understated: yes. But basic? Far from it.