The overarching mood of autumn/winter 2022's fashion trends can be summed up in one word: Nostalgia. Now, nostalgia comes in many different forms depending on your age, experiences and interests. Whatever you might associate with happier, simpler times has likely been translated to the runways for the upcoming season because the creative collectives in New York, London, Milan and Paris have all been feeling that desire for a better life. Designers powered through the past two pandemic years with optimism, channelling their energies in quite literal pick-me-up trends such as dopamine dressing—a hashtag that continues to garner attention on almost all social platforms—but with the easing up of restrictions and a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, more varied style directions are opening up too.
Although the loudest takes on nostalgia are defining the A/W 2022 outlook (more on that in a minute), for the minimalists out there, who perhaps have felt a little underserved in the past couple of seasons, a return to '90s and '00s basics will provide a great palate cleanser. If there's going to be one viral item of the season, it'll be Prada's white vest. Yes, that's correct: As we roll into the winter months, there's a surprisingly humble, surprisingly summery item that will be on the majority of fashion people's wish lists. We can already see that plain(ish) white vests are trending in high-fashion circles—Loewe's anagram-emblazoned version is selling like crazy. Other subtle riffs on minimalism are on offer as well: Oversized tailoring, classic suits, bomber jackets, maxi skirts and neutral colours are plentiful for those who want them.
Euphoria—the costumes, the cast, the makeup, the wild lifestyles—felt omnipresent throughout the shows. The throngs of young fans hoping to get a peek at Jacob Elordie or Sydney Sweeney walking into a fashion show seemed to be larger than ever. But there's no denying the big, pink attention-seeking elephant in the room: TikTok and youth-driven pop culture are the dominant forces for autumn/winter's look. The perception of TikTok is that it's the place where "extra AF" has found its natural home and that no Y2K stone will be left unturned. To a point, that is true, but I would argue that the platform offers much more across personal styles, subcultures and age groups, and I think that it's actually this diversity and freedom of taste that has led to designers tapping into even skimpier noughties looks and a veritable banquet of party looks for the best night ever and little offshoots such as the #gothaesthetic, too. "Expect the unexpected," says fashion expert and Flannels head of womenswear elevation Emma Ilori. "Over-the-top, more-is-more, experimental wardrobes—pushing the boundaries of everyday dressing. We're ready to be out and be seen. Think fresh-off-the-runway social media moments and head-turning full looks." And things couldn't be more committed to that idea than they are over at Valentino, where—during what could arguably be the show of the season—Creative Director Pierpaolo Piccioli crafted a custom hot-pink hue in collaboration with Pantone. Prepare to see Valentino Pink PP (or at least as close as any other brand can get) everywhere.
"The season's overarching mood is one of fun and extravagance, and the A/W trends are set to be all about OTT fashion. Bags are getting bigger, colours are getting brighter, and everything seems to have been covered in shiny sequins," says Morgane Le Caer, content lead at Lyst. And almost every single buyer I spoke to echoed the sentiment—investing heavily in clothes and accessories that spark joy in the most conspicuous of ways. "More is definitely still more, with party continuing to be the predominant trend for the upcoming season," says Heather Gramston, head of womenswear buying at Browns. "As a company, we've invested in partywear across our ready-to-wear collections and non-apparel, and we anticipate the Browns customer will be wanting to dress up at every given opportunity."
There was a surreal vibe over in Paris. Loewe, Rick Owens and Schiaparelli's conceptual takes on fashion are attracting a new and younger crowd of dedicated shoppers who want items that not only provide uniqueness in every single #GRWM post but also could potentially hold their value and become more important over time (resale is the new side hustle, after all). The surreality wasn't limited to aesthetics, as the fashion world found itself in quite a predicament during the show season as Russia launched a war on Ukraine. While each person is allowed their opinion on whether the spectacle of runway shows should have continued or not, it's important for me to share that I have received messages from Ukrainian fashion brands who are miraculously keeping their businesses running and want retail to keep going. As this story is one of the most popular of the season, I want to take the chance to say please support these great labels if you can: Sleeper, Anna October and Vita Kin are just a few of my favourites.
Without further ado, keep reading for the full rundown of autumn/winter's fashion trends for 2022, as told by the experts.
Photo: Courtesy of Prada, Helmut Lang, Bottega Veneta, Beaufille
"We're extremely excited that our favourite Y2K trend has endured for another season. Ahluwalia, Etro and Gauchere showcased some incredibly nostalgic low-slung waistlines, which we predict will be a huge hit with our customers," says Libby Page, fashion expert and senior market editor at Net-a-Porter.
Photo:Courtesy of Nensi Dojaka
The difference with this take on the '90s is that it's all about pared-back looks from the era. Think of the OG set including Helmut Lang, Ann Demeulemeester and Jil Sander, and you're on the right track. It's all plain skirts, even plainer vests, simple low-slung trousers and not a scrap of makeup.
Photo: Courtesy of Eftychia
Lyst's Morgane Le Caer notes that this "low-key luxury" could be seen at Bottega Veneta (under new stewardship with Matthieu Blazy) and The Row and that it provides the oppositional aesthetic to all of the loud looks available throughout the rest of the runways.