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How To Read Fashion Week Coverage Without Having To Lie Down In A Dark Room Afterwards

It’s October. One of the month’s many implications is that it’s not September any longer. And one of the many characteristics of September is a rash of Fashion Weeks, in New York, London, Milan.

Come October, do we care? The answer might be yes.

Certainly few of us review these shows with an eye to actual purchases. There are cars to buy and tuitions to fund. Must we then slap our laptops closed and cry, “Fie on you, designers! Bah humbug to parades of tall skinny models in brutal shoes! I care naught for your sequined eye decorations, your feathers, your organza!”


I’ve been a dedicated follower of fashion every since I first picked up a Glamour Magazine in 1968 and here are my tips on what we might call The October Issue. In other words, what do the real people, the Sturdy Gals, Artsy Cousins, and all but the Grandest of Dames, do with fashion shows?

We use what my mother used to call our noggins.

  1. Choose a collection of designers whose work you usually like. For me that’s been Prada, Dries van Noten, Armani, Narciso Rodriguez, Chanel, Lela Rose, and Tory Burch. If I had to look at all the shows I’d require rehabilitative sedation, but these few reveal what I want to know.
  2. Browse your selection. is a fantastic resource.
  3. Ask yourself, “Am I taking orders from the Fashion Industry on what to wear?” Answer with a resounding “No!” Remind yourself,
    1. I am only finding out if what I ALREADY like will be deeply and broadly available.
    2. I am only determining which general silhouette directions, approaches to color and pattern, and quirky little specifics I might want to explore.

For example, a few looks from Prada, Armani, and Rodriguez.

At Prada, we can recognize two interesting themes. First, the cocoon shape. Raf Simons started it in his last show for Jil Sander. I’d expect this silhouette to start showing up here and there in mainstream clothing lines. My midlife waistline says, “Thank you.”

Second, the use of singular and identifiable nature motifs. J. Crew is already doing it with the French Hen sweater. Miuccia Prada brings on the daisies, and the somewhat poignant dandelion-gone-to-seed.

Armani, on the other hand, gives us blue shades and skirts over pants…

as well as an ongoing flirtation with the sheer. Even those who eschew clear pants might take a sheer top, well-camisoled, for a spin.

Finally, Narciso Rodriguez sends word that color blocking is not yet dead. And by color blocking, I mean the use of shades that might clash a tad, side by side, to beautiful effect. If one has no occasion for gold and silk chemises, this effect is easily achieved with layered tees, or a shirt against a jacket.

The best thing about September’s Fashion Weeks is October’s daydreams. No plans to make, no budgets to draft no orders to follow. Just a watch a notion or two float by like brocade leaves, and say, “Hmm.”

Please take a look here, for other style posts on October.

All images via

16 Responses

  1. In my younger days I was in the fashion & beauty industry and still like to keep up with trends. I’ve found as I’ve reached “a certain age” that I stick with the classics, buy only what looks good on me, and add a few trendy pieces just to stay current. I also try to please my husband and, as an example, he doesn’t like the animal prints this fall. So I bought a scarf to stay with that trend and can toss it if he really objects or when it goes out of fashion.

  2. Spot on, Lisa!!!
    The only people who actually might look at all of the shows and then actually wear everything at once are the very young. I love those Armani skirts over trousers, kinda evocative of India, I think. I could LIVE in Dries. Really. And, remember, it’s the accessories that can make any basic wardrobe a seasonal hit. Sam is correct too. xx’s & love

  3. Quote from my then 14 year old daughter, upon encountering an Armani display in Rome : I would wear anything Mr. Armani thought of.

  4. I always end up thinking that the shows are there to point us in a direction … rather than to wear exactly what’s shown… because who can… Interpretation is the fun part, adapting what is on trend to our lives and our tastes… Like you, I am a fashion lover… have been forever… xv

  5. I lack ” the ” favorite designer, therefore I just browse a little here and there.
    Usually there is ” something ” similar in the collections.
    Right now, I´m interested in a bit oversized clothing. And I still believe, that less is more and good quality. Top accessories survive from one season to the other ( for numerous years ).

  6. Wonderful, wonderful post. I agree wholeheartedly about just dipping your toe in or you will be overwhelmed. I am sure if I wasn’t working that would not be such a big deal… :)

  7. I’m sorry, but I look at these pictures and say “really” as they go from one cutsie outfit to another. If they are pointing us in a direction, I hope it’s out the door. The only outfit with potential was the nature one but they needed to lose the bow on the boots. I have to agree with Sam – stick to the classics

  8. I saw a couple of examples of the pants under a dress/skirt and wondered if this is a nod to Mideastern customers who’re interested in covered-up looks. The sleeveless top your gal has on probably wouldn’t fly, or would be another layer, but the pant/tunic line looks friendly to other cultures.

  9. So funny, I used the word “noggin” in a post just the other day — something in the air, the zeitgeist. . . ;-) It’s a good word, should get used more often.

    Fun to see your analysis of the shows. I wasn’t really conscious of them until I joined the blogging community, relying on monthly fashion magazines for decades without paying much attention to where they were drawing their inspirations. I’m honestly a bit bemused now, by my ignorance, but it’s fun to discover a new world at this relatively late stage. Thanks for sorting out this round for me.

  10. Hi there,
    What a lovely take on our October subject for By Invitation. Being a teenager in the ’60’s I have always loved fashion and still do. I used to go to Biba all of the time. I always keep my eye on what’s in fashion and what the designers are doing but have always liked to be slightly different as far as fashion goes. My problem is that I can’t seem to buy anything unless it’s black, grey or sludgy in colour !!!! Enjoy October and the Autumn …….. I love it because I can get my boots, jackets, coats , scaves and fingerless gloves out !! XXXX

  11. Lisa,
    Oh, be still my beating fashion heart. I still get so excited to see the models parade in the latest fashions. It will be fun to see what I can find in the mass market. It is amazing at how certain trends trickle down and others merely are unattainable – unless you are Lulu Guinness – I do love stylishly avant-garde ladies and then those in the real world that can put themselves together and present their own unique style. Be they classic or a slave to fashion.
    It is work but I do enjoy the hunt.

  12. Ah, I have been all over the shows lately, I have to admit! Like Vicki, I am happy to just get the perfume off of it and go from there!

    Thanks for a wonderful post, a fun take for BIO!

  13. I take a very brief overall “skim” of the shows and see what I come away with.
    This time, it’s oversized, and the cocoon – both silhouettes I’m happy to see.

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