Fashion Commentary

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Our overriding influence for autumn/winter 2008-09 is that of the strong woman. She is the empowered icon, colouring our three moods for the season as well as driving our consumer trends with her far-sighted vision. She has emerged from last season’s reflective cocoon, a stronger wiser individual who knows her own mind and is not afraid to speak it. This new assertive self is mirrored in the protection of a strong silhouette – think the armoured qualities of military-inspired looks or the biker jacket – with a return to a defined shoulder line and decisive belted looks. It is one of the strongest influences to emerge for several seasons with inspirations drawn from such diverse sources as medieval crusaders like Joan of Arc, the glamazons of the post-war 40s, or 20th century pioneers in design and literature. They all have one thing in common – a belief in self. They are leaders not followers and it is that sense of strength that is at the core of the season as we realise that we are empowered to make our own choices, be it in what we wear or what we buy, the cause we espouse and indeed the way we live our lives.


We see styling as youthfully driven within this trend, moving fur into a new direction with the biker jacket adding to the hard edged look of the trend, maybe worked in shaved furs for a contradictory mix of hard edged and soft luxury. Shaved furs work too for simple shift dresses, offset with the armoured feel of studded trims and maybe wet-look or metallic jersey. The hardcore exposed metal zip is a key design detail for an armoured feel.

FIG 1| The biker jacket in the smooth velvety touch of sheared fur, with asymmetric studded closures and exposed zipped pockets has a strong youthful vibe that is new for the fur trade.

FIG 2| Think outside the box and take fur into a new dimension with the sleek shift dress worked in lightweight sheared fur offset with the contrast of hardware studded trims for a play on hard against soft.



Python, sheared mink and chinchilla offer a pleasing play on contrasts for a statement medievalinspired silhouette at JULIEN MACDONALD.

Long-haired goat adds texture to a strong shouldered coat at DSQUARED.


Next winter’s update to the full fur coat uses innovative fur mixes to create a newly structured silhouette with 40s overtones. Think the glossy texture of mink worked against the definition of silver fox to emphasize strong shoulderlines. There are more fluid silhouettes at play too in supple sheared or knitted furs worked into soft pullover tunics with a distinctly 30s air for a more casual approach to the Metropolis trend.

FIG 1| The structured shoulderline makes a comeback here, given added emphasis with plush silver fox worked against the contrast of a full-mink coat. Add a sleek patent belt detail to create a subtle modern edge.

FIG 2| The trend encompasses a contrast of silhouettes with the fluid lines of an easy pullover tunic top in soft touch sheared nutria or mink. Knitted furs would work equally well for a more commercial approach to the look.


Innovative fur mixes update a 40s style silhouette with printed and plain mink offset by plush long-haired fox at GUCCI.


The flying jacket is a key shape for next winter, here in ostrich and silver fox at GUCCI.


A sleek glossy cape-sleeved jacket with waist-cinching belt for a modern structured look at ROBERTO CAVALLI.



Ultimately a youthful look, the Expressionists should incorporate new silhouettes as well as new techniques to help forge a more directional look. This is where we see ombréd and waxed techniques coming into play; sheared and long-haired furs used together in new imaginative combinations and maybe intricate pieced or printed effects creating a play on pattern. There are no rules here, just a full reign to get creative.

FIG 1| A sheared cocoon silhouette emphasised by gradated ombréd effects and a soft waterfall collar is juxtaposed with a longhaired fur cowl.

FIG 2| Long and sheared fur mixes create a play on texture while intricate pieced or printed effects add an offbeat colour accent, finished with patent leather trim.


Creativity knows no bounds with this belted kimonosleeved silver fox and chinchilla coat at FENDI.


Simplicity personified with gradated ombréd effects defining the belted silhouette in shades of vapour grey at ALBERTA FERRETTI.


This coat perfectly mirrors the Expressionists trend with innovative waxed treatments on dyed rabbit adding texture to a simple belted silhouette at LOUIS VUITTON.



1. The medieval mood works to update the classic trench with subtle military effects. Create strong waist definition with heavy buckled belt detailing. High stand collars help define the neckline, creating face-framing effects. Use hardware trims and supple sheared furs to complete the look.

2. Here, the emphasis lies in the exaggerated high stand collar balancing bracelet-length sleeves as an update for the short fur jacket. Move this shape forward with a fly-front closure for a clean-edged look. Contrasting fur mixes can be used to help define the essential detailing of this silhouette.

3. This shape may be the ultimate in simplicity but the silhouette is designed to show off innovative new fur techniques. Play with waxed furs or ombréd treatments to create innovative surface interest. The new short dolman sleeve is a key design detail along with the wider-set collarless neckline.

4. An easy jacket hybrid here with the T-shaped pullover tunic in lightweight shaved or knitted furs. The key details are the relaxed kimono sleeve and the soft unstructured neckline, making this an easy silhouette with a youthful vibe that sits well within the season’s medieval mood.

5. A new youthful look for the short fur jacket with biker styling works with the season’s medieval influences. Use chevroned effects, exaggerated collars, quilted leather and the all-important heavy-duty metallic zips to create a strong armoured feel. Deep knitted or ribbed welts complete the look.

6. The latest update for the full fur coat sees this silhouette rely on a play on volume with contrasting long and shaved furs defining the shape. Full fur sleeves and a strong shoulder are balanced by a smooth slimline body, offset with the soft swell of the full fur skirt from a dropped waist.