Fashion goes beyond the pandemic. No, the fall 2021 season did not mean the return of runway shows with stars in New York, London, Milan and Paris. Most collections were presented via carefully edited films or streaming videos in which models paraded in front of empty chairs. But if the crowds weren’t there, nor were the pajama stations, cashmere sweaters, high-waisted jogging suits or other signs of sloppiness, then the WFW aesthetic that many of us embraced last year is an aesthetic. Instead, brands are advertising optimistic products for our long-awaited return to society.

Some, like Dries Van Noten, Prada and Paco Rabanne, offered festive glitz. Others, like Chanel and Proenza Schouler, tried to temper the uncomfortable transition to life outside the living room with dresses chic enough for a dinner party but comfortable enough for a cocoon day bed. And many, including Coach, Louis Vuitton and Londoner Molly Goddard, have offered to make us repent for our months of sweat sins in one fell swoop, offering all kinds of clothes we didn’t wear during the lockdown – from tulle dresses with ruffles to sweaters in dazzling hues.

Specifically, the refugee offering included a dark fairy tale about

Christian Dior,

Simon Roche and Patou, as well as travel looks from Christian Louboutin, Balmain and Tom Brown. But it was the commitment to sustainability that made the biggest impression, as American designer Gabriela Hurst demonstrated on her debut as creative director of traditional French brand Chloe. Here’s a collection of must-see trends and moments from the peculiar but worthy Fall 2021 digital fashion month.

Full load

Last year, it was suggested on several occasions that they should clean up their clothes, which put the fashion-obsessed in a state of serious sartorial failure. The case showed that there was some kind of cure: Make up for lost time by wearing every conceivable style, pattern and fabric, no matter how different. From left to right: Coach’s offerings include a skirt and jogging pants; Italian brand Etro’s from an embroidered sweater and cords; Louis Vuitton opts for a tufted, beaded twist; British designer Molly Goddard pairs her signature tulle dress with a chic, geek-chic sweater.

High quality down

Last winter, marked by an unprecedented passion for outdoor activities, confirmed the hero status of the protective jacket. Logically, many designers are elevating the fixed cold weather garment – deemed too technical to be fashionable – to new heights of style. From left to right: Miu Miu’s head-to-toe quilted sled suit, Rick Owens’ dramatic cape-style vest, Tod’s design with a delicate, feminine ruffled collar, a rare find in the marshmallow jacket market, a classic red version from New York contemporary brand Khaite.

Happy?

This season’s fairy tale fashion evokes a distant land, far from the Brothers Grimm variety, but right down to the children baking in the oven. From left to right: An innocent eyelet dress and lace-up combat boots by Christian Dior; vibrant, regal ruffles by newly reborn French label Patou; a luxurious Bavarian bodice by New York designer Ulla Johnson; and, of course, leather down jackets with princess sleeves by London’s Simone Rocha.

See you later, sweatpants. . . Hi. Yes. Sequins.

Perhaps the designers sensed that we’ve all had enough of grey wool and crave a sartorial feast. Maybe they knew the extreme flicker would be seen on our 13-inch laptop screens when we watched the virtual shows. Anyway: Sequins have brightened up the autumn collections. From left to right: Paco Rabanne evokes the golden age with a luminous leopard ensemble; Carolina Herrera’s sparkling pink evening gown with puff sleeves; green sequins flow into a Prada dress; Belgian designer Dries Van Noten’s autumnal flick is relaxed, thoughtful, danceable.

Dressed from top to bottom

Even when fashion calls, you can stick to your comfortable elastics. Aware of this, designers have created net dresses that are comfortable enough to wear on the couch (if not technically stretchy), but glamorous enough for a day on the town. From left to right: A languid twin set at Altuzarra; a sexy, billowing blouse at Proenza Schuler; cozy, ruched geometric knits at Jil Sander; double Cs and double sweaters at Chanel.

Surrealistic bargains

The cruelty of the bite of reality became very clear last year. Not surprisingly, some designers have opted for a strange surrealism. From left to right: trippy trompe-l’oeil fittings at Schiaparelli; an airy trouser approach at Thebe Magugu; Loewe’s kaleidoscopic, dreamy top with voluminous embellishments.

MOMENTS WE HAVE LOVED

From promoting sustainability to the appearance of Megan Thee Stallion, these are the fashion week moments that will stay with us.

durability, but make it Chloe.

Sure, the small brands on your Instagram feed preach sustainability, but sustainability on a large scale usually requires a business overhaul. That’s why many big fashion houses have no idea about their environmental efforts – or lack thereof. Gabriela Hurst’s first collection at Chloé, the French fashion house owned by Richemont, marks a change. The Uruguayan-American designer (left) makes the company’s carbon footprint a top priority, imposing rules such as not using new synthetic fibers. One of the highlights of the show was the vintage Edith bags, originally designed for the house by former creative director Phoebe Philo, which Ms. Hurst updated with recycled materials from the current collection (right). The new isn’t always better, Hurst said in a statement.

Now the earth – maybe we hope.

Do you dream of flying in a jet plane? Designers have stirred up long-suppressed fantasies of world travel with virtual presentations of hyper-luxurious (and therefore somewhat obscure) travel scenarios. From left to right: Balmain’s fall pilot collection in pictures.

Air France

Hangars; a shot of Christian Louboutin brand accessories in a flight-themed fall film; a mannequin scoring a suitcase from Tom Brown’s fabulous fall collection.

Welcome back

After a hiatus in 2017, Hood by Air, the subversive and iconic New York design collective led by Shane Oliver, returned this season with a futuristic all-black collection shot on supermodel Naomi Campbell.

Baby bags

We’ve come to the conclusion that small bags can’t get any smaller after French brand Jacmeus unveiled its comically pubescent Chiquito mini tote in 2019. Turns out we were a little short-sighted. In the fall, Hermès (left) and Chanel (right) introduced miniature lipstick bags – necklaces that have a high chic factor. What could be more fantastic than going out with just a little lipstick or realistic hand sanitizer with a spray option.

Glory and fashion

Since most shows were performed digitally, the 2021 season did not include front row seats traditionally occupied by celebrities and It girls. However, Coach has creatively incorporated stars into its presentation through what the brand calls Coach TV, a compilation of music videos and sitcom parodies featuring familiar faces like Megan T. Stallion (left), J.Lo (right) and Michael B. Jordan.

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