Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Doll's Eye View: Autumn/Winter 2021 Trends Part 1

True to our word, the girls and I decided to tell our own story for upcoming Fall/Winter 2021. Under normal circumstances, the design process usually takes way more time than two weeks. First there's research including fabrics, then comes the idea boards, the sketches, the toiles (or muslins), and finally the finished garments. Afterwards, there's casting, the collect of accessories, booking the venue, inviting the press and buyers and then the show. We did not have that kind of time, so we cut corners. We used existing pieces and created only the new pieces needed to get the look we wanted. But it still took a LOT of thought as this is a turning point in fashion!

It has been a year since the pandemic shut everything down, forcing us into new lifestyles that does not involve shopping or socializing. During this time, we became up close and personal with....comfort clothes. For some, "Zoom," "Google Meetings," introduced the world to a new aesthetic whereby only the upper half of the look counts. But now that the end of lockdowns are on the horizon, our job began with an attempt to figure out how our fashionistas will emerge from hibernation. Will they still feel like getting dressed up? Will we see the same exuberance of the Roaring 20's after the Spanish flu pandemic from 100 years ago? Or will everyone succumb to comfort clothes? 

From the looks of this season's fashion month, the designers appear confused. We saw way too many odd silhouettes, bizarre fabric mixtures and a helter-skelter, grab bag approach to styling that frankly could be labeled "The Salvation Army Collection." Me and the girls believe that while fashion will always play some sort of role in our lives, most people will want to dress in a way that remains comfortable yet makes them feel good. We're thinking about separate pieces (skirts, pants, jackets coats) that can be combined in a variety of ways to create a look for any time of day. Some are keepsake pieces, cut from luxurious fabrics to make them more special. 

At one time, Fall collections were designed using "cold weather fabrics" in palettes inspired by colorful foliage, concrete streets and billowy snow banks. We took our cue from this "old school" way of putting together things. Our show is a bit long, so we are presenting it over two posts beginning with this, Part 1, focused on our Fall trends. 

We begin with "Autumn Promenade." This group which captures the brilliance and sometimes unexpected color palette of autumn foliage, was inspired by the early works of designer Haiden Ackermann. We love his way of layering colors and textures together in a single look. We also dipped our imaginary brush into the iconic color palette of the late, great Yves Saint Laurent. 

Layering, we feel, is very appropriate for our current times because it is the easiest way to put a look together and allows the wearing to add or subtract elements depending on the time of day or the occasion.  Each piece can be combined with other elements in the wardrobe to create a new and completely different look. Sybilla's outfit starts with a funnel neck sweater worn over a pair of patterned nylon stovepipe pants. We tied a russet toned silk scarf around her neck which is caught with a brown snakeskin cummerbund belt. Over it all, a simple tangerine leather waistcoat. 

You will notice that we have included a lot of pants in our collection. Most of us have gotten used to wearing some form of pants over the past 12 months and we don't see that changing even as we resume "normal" life. But here again, what will make a real difference is color. Petra is wearing a forest green suede pants set. To wake up the color, we gave her a emerald green and sky blue silk top belted with a wide turquoise blue belt and wrapped at the neck with a matching pleated scarf.

Once we got started, there was simply no getting off the color train. For Sofia, we put together the St. Laurent color combo of hot pink and red in the form of a pantsuit. Her fuchsia suede jacket with its supersized shoulders ties over a hot pink satin tent tunic (which also doubles as a dress), belted over cherry red straight wool trousers. 

Jeans are an important part of every doll's wardrobe and we imagined that going into next Fall, looks will be built around this staple. Tiah's indigo boot-cut jeans are strapped with a hip rider snakeskin belt and a copper silk top with plenty of petals cascading down the front. Over it, a copper and royal blue brocade jacket. 

For Chrissie, we continued on by combining textures with big blasts of vivid color. She wears a flame red pleated silk tunic (also doubling as a dress) over a wool, pleated apron in the same shade. Basically she could wear this with anything...jeans, stovepipes or even a long, jersey skirt. But in this case, we've teamed it with a short fuchsia suede skirt and matching knee high boots.

The girls fell in love with Chinese brocade, particularly this deep blue satin with golden butterflies. Originally they imagined pairing this coat with its chocolate brown fur trimmed sleeves, with a simple pair of jeans. But then they had the notion to combine it with snakeskin. Jordan has a funnel neck black sweater with a colorful blue and green silk scarf crisscrossed over the shoulders and caught with a turquoise belt at the waist. It's worn over a brown snakeskin mini skirt and matching stiletto boots.

"Grey Skies" This group is a story sketched in grey, combining a palette of classic patterns like herringbone, plaid, and tweed. 

Black plus white equals grey. And this is just the kind of grey scale the girls love. There are three patterns in this one look. Noor's jacket is a black & white snakeskin vinyl print, teamed with a herringbone full mid-calf skirt and glen-plaid shawl tossed over the shoulders. We thought it was time to take a break from our usual form fitted short skirts in favor of a gathered one which is so much more....comfortable! And then to add a little autumn spark to things, we gave her flame red accessories.

Adriana already had the velvet flocked jacket and matching boots. We decided to give her suit a new look by swapping out the original straight skirt for a sarong, cut from herringbone patterned silk. The idea came to me as I thought back to a job I had years ago in the Caribbean. I needed a jacket for work, but instead of the traditional skirt, I took a different pashmina shawl each day and wrapped it into a skirt. Again, another "comfortable" option for a skirt. What I like here is how the draping breaks up the pattern into interesting directions. She can wear anything for a top, but for that special event later in the day, she can dress it up with a boa of black feathers.

Another day to evening look cut in grey flannel. Zoe is actually wearing a 1/6 scale interpretation of a Haider Ackermann pantsuit. It's a 2-piece pants ensemble that has the sort of draping detail over the front normally reserved for couture dresses. 
We awakened an otherwise dull boring fabric with silver boots and accessories. The striped grey faux fur stole gives this understated look a glamorous edge.

We can use a variety of tones and textures to pull together an interesting look using basic elements. Gail wears a grey ribbed sweater over a mohair skirt under a simple, straight cut grey flannel coat. A pop of color--like the chartreuse and grey silk scarf around her neck-- is all that's needed to give the look an added dimension. Her boots, by the way, are made from "birdseye" patterned wool, tipped with black leather.

And finally...an urban take on our theme. Akure wears an unstructured suit of grey tweed. The hip length jacket is square cut with grey knitted cuffs and is worn over a tie-print silk top and a rough cut tweed skirt zapped with a streak of silver foil. Her boots are cut from a dark metallic grey stretch fabric. 
"Black Jack" A monochromatic theme that combines the softness and comfort of jersey with the tough chic of buffed leather. 
This theme starts off with the simple look of a black dolman sleeve dress pulled close to the body with an asymmetrical leather corset and sleeve guards.  Nicki only needed the simple addition of stretch leather boots and rubber jewelry to pull off this look.
Again, we're back in the comfort zone with a big slouchy sweater belted over a pair of sleek stretch leather leggings. No stilettos for Samantha. She's accessorizing her look with fur trimmed Uggs! 
Iman's look begins with a navy blue ribbed jersey dress from a recent season. We belted a leather corset over it then topped it off with a black leather blazer. I resisted the urge to add any sort of "bling." We are expecting the trends will favor more understated, less ostentatious looks. Iman loved the navy/black combination and didn't want anything to take attention away from the luster of the leather.
Though the slim silhouettes won't be going away for the moment, we think looser, easier shapes will be a viable option. Here, Nichelle took a dress from her wardrobe and gave it a new look by adding a faux fur collar and a very wide wrap belt. 

Don't go away. The fashion show is not over. We have a few more sets of trends to share.

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  1. PS, and the Autumn colours are lovely.

    1. Thank you. I feel as though the fashion houses have gone too far away from these "Autumn" colors. When I put together this group, it reminded me of the excitement I once felt for Fall fashion.

  2. Bonjour April,
    C’est magnifique, comment dire : j’aime.
    J’aime comment tu nous expliques chaque tenues, tu expliques les détails, les agencements de couleur, de tissus.... j’ai l’impression de lire un catalogue de mode et j’aime vraiment ça.
    Tes look sont magnifiques.
    Ta collection noire, j’aime le mélange de cuir et d’autres matières. Puis ta première collection les vestes et les pantalons, j’aime beaucoup ta variété de couleurs.
    Puis c’est une coïncidence, j’ai fait dernièrement quelques vêtements en cuir dans ma collection 2021. Tu peux le voir sur mon blog. J’ai aussi fait un ensemble veste et pantalon couleur bronze .... en tout cas, j’ai hâte de voir ton prochain post.

    1. Shasarignis wrote: Hello April,
      It's beautiful, how to say: I love.
      I love how you explain each outfit to us, you explain the details, the color schemes, the fabrics ... I feel like reading a fashion catalog and I really like it.
      Your looks are magnificent.
      Your black collection, I like the mix of leather and other materials. Then your first collection the jackets and pants, I really like your variety of colors.
      Then it's a coincidence, I recently made some leather clothes in my 2021 collection. You can see it on my blog. I also made a bronze jacket and pants set .... anyway, I can't wait to see your next post.

      Bonjour Shasarignis,
      Je te merci pour tes tres gentils mots. Ils sont bien apprecies!
      Designing a collection involves much more than simply making a bunch of clothes and sending them down a catwalk. Since I presented this as a trend report, I had to really stop and think about why I chose to include each outfit and how it works with both the season and the general mood and desire of the wearer six months from now. There were a few things I pulled out because they didn't fit my criteria. Sometimes, I would wait and look at the garment the day after before deciding to leave it or pull it.
      The colors, inspired by the changing foliage of the countryside, is essential and was once almost always included in the big design houses' presentations. The mixtures of materials and textures was and remains a necessary element especially since my silhouettes are so simple. And then there is the question of the variety of pants and tops, etc. Along with the designer is a "collections manager" who explains the pieces that must be included because those are the items most likely to "sell" in the stores. I'm not selling anything, but for the sake of my own trend report, I did try to think about how, if these were human clothes, they would look and sell in a real store!
      Well, I will definitely stop by and take a peak at your leather items and your 2021 collection!!!! Ca m'interesse enormement! Merci Shasarignis

  3. All of them are amazing. I loved especially the brown leather jacket <3

    1. Thank you Aya. This was a most challenging project, but I am pretty happy with the way things turned out. Thank you so much for stopping by.

  4. Oooh, I love it. The first photo gave me Benetton vibes, because they always have these colorful clothes even for winter or fall. However, my favourite has to be the black dress with the leather accents.

    Looking forward to read part 2

    1. Thank you so much MC. That black dress (and another black & white outfit I pulled because it looked too "spring") was the catalyst for this collection. I really love that dress. But once upon a time, many years ago, there was always a lot of "Autumn" colors inspired by the changing leaves incorporated in those seasonal collections. There has been a lot of positive feedback on our color palette which tells me, that those famous designers perhaps take note and put more color into the fashions they present for humans! LOL!!!

  5. April, the fashion show according to your trends is amazing. The combination of colors and different textures of materials gives a great effect. I am delighted.

    1. Thank you so much, Dlubaniny. That means a lot to me. This is the way Autumn trends were many years ago....a beautiful explosion of color inspired by the glorious countryside!

  6. Thank you, Linda. And...yes...I'd wear every one of these outfits myself. And that's the way it used to be on the catwalks. I remember shopping for Fall clothes was such an anticipated joy. So, even though each piece is simple, the idea you can mix and match, dress up or down...is precious, I think. I wanted to do more photos outside but I had a wind problem while I was photographing. LOL!

  7. Hello, Lynn/April. I didn't have time to really ponder your post---so I set it aside to really have a long look. First impression....my goodness girl, you need to design for Mattel...so sick of cutsey baggy clothes with 'no style' at all.Also...I would really like some of your jacket designs for me!!! Your third photo with all the jacket ensembles is delicious. I would wear every single one of them. (I am a jacket whore-short/long/dragging...lol). I love all the color combinations...but I'm a blonde so all those clear colors are great for me.

    Coming off a long winter of wearing blacks and grays...kinda took the fun out of your neutrals, do love the styles though. Your blackjack dress and cincher is gorgeous, and anyone could wear that...would love a tunic with that sort of design in applique over it. I do absolutely adore the last blue coat/dress. I have a stash of some Chinese silk mini pieces...that I haven't dug into yet, and this is a perfect way to use them. Gorgeous work...and you outdid yourself with these wonderful designs. Sandi

    1. LOL!!! Thank you Sandi. A few years ago, I visited a Barbie mega-exhibition in Paris. The early wardrobe of Barbie was most amazing. I wish I had many of those pieces. But then towards the end, as we got to the more current dolls & wardrobes, there was a huge wall of....colorful, sparkly.....JUNK!!! Everything is now designed to appeal to 7 year olds. When I saw that wall, I knew instantly I would NEVER be hired by Mattel. Look...they have discontinued the Silkstone Barbies who had the best clothes! So I must assume that colorful sparkly junk is what sells chez Mattel. In any case, thank you for your very kind and flattering words. And yes, if these are clothes that you would wear....well....so would I. (I had lots of influence over what "the girls" designed! LOL!) Many things came from the depths of what I've seen in catwalk shows and magazines over the years... But putting it together in a cohesive and logical way forced me to really think about every piece I put in. It was more work than I anticipated..but still a lot of fun. Big hugs. April

  8. Dla każdego coś dobrego i innego! Różnorodność zachwycająca! Tyle tkanin, tyle struktur, tyle ciekawych fasonów! Umiesz idealnie łączyć ze sobą kolory i różne tkaniny! To fascynujące! Ja bym się bała takiego łączenia a u Twoich dziewczyn wygląda to wspaniale! Te kurteczki, apaszki, szale, futra, żaboty i cudowne, wysokie kozaki! Rewelacyjny pokaz mody! Brawo!

    1. Olla wrote: Something good and different for everyone! The variety is amazing! So many fabrics, so many structures, so many interesting styles! You can perfectly combine colors and different fabrics! It's fascinating! I would be afraid of such a combination and your girlfriends it looks great! These jackets, scarves, scarves, furs, frills and wonderful high boots! A sensational fashion show! Bravo!

      Thank you so much, Olla. Once upon a time, this is what fashion week resembled. Gorgeous clothes drenched in the colors of autumn and cut from rich, lush fabrics. But it seems that today's designers have lost their way and much of what is on catwalks looks more like chaos and confusion rather than a festival of color. But you know, we are designers and we can make things right..at least for our dolls. I think you do an amazing job with your gorgeous knits and crochet dresses. As far as my daring color combinations..all you need do is to take a stroll in your beautiful countryside and look closely at the unexpected color combinations! It's all there! Thank you for stopping by. Big hugs. April


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