Enter the coat, the skirt and the boot

It may still be summer but the fashion world has its eyes firmly on autumn, winter and beyond

It may still be summer – at least according to school calendars and airport waiting times – but in the fashion world, the season of sun ended somewhere around May. With the autumn-winter season just around the corner, eyes are focused firmly on trends that have been floating around in the sartorial subconscious since February, when the collections were shown in the world’s fashion capitals: London, New York, Milan and Paris.

Items that were last seen on catwalks are now awaiting new owners in high-end boutiques around the world, while the high street is witnessing a filtering through of autumn-winter stock with an aesthetic that is heavily influenced by the new-season collections.

At Emporium Kalu in Naas, where shoppers can expect to see clothing by Maria Grachvogel, Giles Deacon and Vivienne Westwood, co-owner Louise Flanagan says trends don't play as strong a part as in other shops. (The high street tends to be largely trend-driven, while bigger-ticket items, though they might adhere to a particular trend, are sold on the strength of silhouette and design.) "Beautiful clothes are always in fashion," she says.

Seasonal collections are somewhat predictable. Spring-summer always sees a resurgence of florals. There’s usually a pastel story, and dresses feature strongly, though their silhouettes may change. In autumn-winter, we see coats take centre stage; quite often, there is a heritage story with tweeds, wools or plaid; military will rear its olive-green head once or twice.


An influx of new ideas
But by that same token, each season does bring an influx of new ideas. Elaine Curtis, whose eponymous boutique in Co Carlow stocks labels including Diane von Furstenberg and By Malene Birger, says that the biggest change this autumn- winter is the prevalence of the skirt.

“There really is a shape to suit all figures,” says Curtis. “That said, below-the-knee and fuller-shaped skirts are really on-trend this season.”

This needn’t mean pants at the ready for those of us carrying a little below-the-belt weight, though: “By Malene Birger has some really cleverly designed dresses with side slits that give beautiful movement without adding too much bulk.”

Shelly Corkery, fashion director of Brown Thomas Dublin, agrees with Curtis that the skirt is big news this season – in more ways than one. "Volume is big," she says. "And the dirndl skirt is new for this season and a must-have for every wardrobe."

In terms of trends at Brown Thomas, Corkery identifies several, “from the rebel to minimalism, a play on masculine/feminine, the lady, from sports luxe to couture glamour”. Overall, she says, “it’s a season of over-riding feminism with a playful punch of punk”.

Key pieces for the new season
While it might be fun fantasising about the hundreds of items we would each add to our wardrobes every season, there are few of us who can afford to – so what are they key pieces for some instant wardrobe updating?

Corkery and Flanagan are in agreement that an oversized coat should be on the wish list. “Both Balenciaga and Celine have beautiful cocoon coats,” says Corkery, while Flanagan identifies Alison Connelly’s cape as being the best on the market.

At Elaine Curtis, a Fitzpatrick’s Shoes concession has just opened in the shop, in Carlow’s Potato Market. “The quality of their leather is second to none,” says Curtis. “A good pair of winter boots is always a clever buy.”

Corkery's picks
The biker jacket: "Saint Laurent Paris has the biker jacket of the season."

The cocoon coat: “Both Balenciaga and Celine have beautiful cocoon coats.”

The dirndl skirt: “Acne and Marni are my favourites, but most collections have a version of the dirndl or full skirt.”

Curtis's picks
The Diane Von Furstenberg jumpsuit: "It's a really versatile addition to your wardrobe."

A good pair of winter boots: “I would find it hard to pick just one pair!”

A K-Yen fur neckpiece: “It’s fine enough to wear during the day, or on your favourite coat for a touch of luxury.”

Flanagan's picks
An oversized masculine coat or cape: "Check out Alison Connelly's cape – it's the best on the market."

The trouser: “In whichever style suits you.”

A brogue shoe or ankle boot from Robert Clergerie.