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 Fashion Trends 2004-2005

Autumn 2004 & Winter 2005

 Part 3 - Fashion Show Designer Led Trends

By Pauline Weston Thomas for


Fashion Show Designers Autumn 2004 & Winter 2005


Designer Trends From Milan, Paris, New York and London Affecting Fashion for Fall 2004 & Winter 2005

Milan Shows

Earlier this year in spring 2004 in terms of styling and pizzazz, the Milan fashion shows exhibiting for autumn/winter 2004 were as confident as ever, featuring the common theme of vintage, all with layering, leather and fur.  The Milan shows used the best of vintage 20th century styles for inspiration.  Fur trimmed just about everything.  Fake fur, now fashionably called faux fur and real fur will be everywhere this autumn.  Look out too for similarities in shops to the shaved fur capes that hit the catwalks, fur gilets, fur stoles and fur trapper hats.  Funnel necks on swing jackets will have a new freshness.

Milanese footwear was elevated with stack, wedge, clumpy and wooden heels. Toes were round or oval and the two tone shoe is sure to a be hit, because even though it is an oft repeated revival, it looked new and now.

Skirt lengths in Milan mostly showed a modest hemline covering the knee or at mid calf or longer. Skirts that covered the knees were also a trend at the New York shows.  Perhaps some of the various box pleated skirts some houses have been putting on the catwalks might best be avoided.

Miuccia Prada

Miuccia Prada continued her 1950's revival and she designed square necked dresses and pert grey flannel suits perfect for those who aspire to be ladylike. 

Using contemporary touches such as the use of computer generated digitally distorted old master landscape or tapestry style prints her Miu Miu range harked back to the romantic New Look with sweeping skirts and evidence of cutting in tune with both the late greats, Ossie Clark and Jean Muir. 

Her military inspiration from historical costuming with a modern twist that used both velvet and brocade to make swaggering splendid coats all captured the culture of a long ago European heritage. Her coats featured jewel encrusted collars and belts, also made in tweed and checks.  Interesting use was made of nylon in ski jackets covered in digital prints.

Prada also favoured alligator and snakeskin stilettos, so right now these would be a great summer sale fashion purchases that will remain fashionable for 2005.  Other items to find in the sales are brooches.  Prada used them to great effect as trims particularly on cashmere knits and wherever else she fancied.  Brooches will be everywhere this winter, but worn not only on a lapel, but also on bags, the pockets of jeans and even beanie hats.  Brooches will replace the fake silk organza flower corsage.

On the catwalk there were also gorgeous circle skirts that vied with pencil straight skirts and exceptionally feminine tailored garments from costume suits to sexy coats.  The fitted and shaped waist styling really suits hour glass figures and can only be welcomed by women who are not stick thin and have voluptuous curves to show.

Prada is the best place to look for inspiration for this fifties styling, taking many of the ideas you find there with you to the high street where fast JIT (just in time) fashion companies like Zara and those mentioned above, interpret new and fresh ideas so fast, that designers complain their ideas are pirated and in other suppliers shops, before they are showcased in the original designer's ready to wear outlet.


Dolce and Gabbana

Dolce&Gabbana looked to the 20th century for ideas from every decade.  In particular the 1970s produced translatable ideas and they wove their magic to give their very own D & G touch to Yves St. Laurent 70's inspired styled suits.  D & G  full length evening dresses for autumn winter 2004/5 were made for goddesses from another planet with their futuristic lustrous sparkling copper and bronze metallic fabrics and semi opaque sexy inset fabric panels that emphasised body contours.

Dolce Gabbana Vintage is the new buzz phrase and enables designers to remake past winners their customers adore by calling them vintage, even if the style is only a few years old.  Designers have always turned to fashion history for inspiration and this show proved that La Belle Époque  beading and lace sat happily with 1930s tea dresses and more contemporary 60s inspired T tops and jeans.

Their long coat to lust after, had a half belt at the back making it sensible and wearable with a great fashion aspect.


Armani also favoured the woman of tremendous curves reminiscent of the clothes of Edwardian beauties.  Flared skirts with an organic feel that swept like an opening bell flower form, just like the art nouveau styling of La Belle Époque of 1900, vied with fluid trousers and fluted coats all emphasising a nipped in waist.  Waffle textured jackets, cut velvet gowns and rich velvets added a feeling of sumptuousness.


Rifat Ozbek

Rifat Ozbek was back after an absence of a few years.  Ozbek used braids to detail the hemlines of skirts and the edges of jackets, infusing them with both colour and fashion savvy aplomb.  His use of polychromatic tassels was a nice touch on scarves and cuffs and was Tibetan and Ottoman empire influenced.  Shops that usually translate similar themes well, include Monsoon.

Look out for similar ideas in the shops where tipping on knits in particular will be popular. Tipping is an edge finish of about half to a centimetre of contrast colour.  Popular schemes include black and cream, red and black, flesh pink and cream etc. 

Roberto Cavalli

Roberto Cavalli used crystal, silver and gold lustre to enhance wearable coloured printed paisley fabrics in dirty plums, sage, sharp green and navy.

Paris Shows

Alexander McQueen

Alexander McQueen went futuristic with a sci-fi like setting for models that looked like aliens.  He used draped silk jersey to make dresses that draped from silver chokers.  Leather was used to encrust dresses of chiffon.  Fur pony skins were shaved to become even flatter to make coats. 

Mc Queen has also forecast that feather shrugs in silver black or coral worn over glamorous dresses will be big next year

Karl Lagerfeld

Karl Lagerfeld took a very unisex approach to many of the clothes he designed for the House of Chanel.  Borrowing from the boys for daywear he focused on headwear such as trilby hats, caps and drainpipe jeans in pinstripe materials.

The colours were often pastels and he did not neglect classic Chanel styling and there was usual mix of cardigan suits, but this time teamed with flat boots.  Patriotic colours of red, navy and white as well as pastel tweeds were striking.  The tweed cardigan suit is classic Chanel and Lagerfeld knows just how to add a contemporary twist.

The high street has taken this look to heart and chances are you have much better chance of buying the high street version than even a ready to wear Chanel version at almost £3000.  Just about every collection in the stores today has a tweedy jacket inspired by Lagerfeld and at a tenth or even thirtieth or less of the Chanel boutique price you can opt for this high fashion look and wear it with matching or contrast trousers or skirts, or for a more dress down look just add your favourite jeans and a string of pearls, maybe pastel coloured pearls.

Christian Lacroix

Christian Lacroix is one of the right designers for now with his passion for colour, pattern and jewel encrusted garments.  He showed  broderie anglaise trimmed tiered skirts with masculine cut trench coats, jackets that were long and straight over tweed culottes and eastern, oriental inspired yellow and purple patchwork prints on jackets.

His use of ribbon woven through long cardigans is likely to be taken up by the high street fashion stores who are currently feeding off deconstructionist and textural techniques.  His use of lace in fine black lace shirt dresses with gold mancheron shoulder detailing was another wave to the return of the emphasised shoulder.  Coloured tights abounded and are a real 1980s revival touch.

John Galliano

John Galliano brought geisha girl and rockabilly to his collection.  He used vivid shocking pink dyed furs atop huge enveloping coats.  The look was unexpected and jarred, but at the same time captured street culture and was innovative and original.  The catwalk is where Galliano shows his fantasy vision.


Valentino produced the most beautiful evening wear of columnar dresses of lace or chiffon layers and some in the primary colour red with huge fabric roses at the sides that were show stopping.  His fur bomber jackets were luscious, modern and street savvy.

New York Shows

New York began by turning to the 1970s for inspiration with groomed pussy bow collar looks, popular in the late seventies for the office look of today and tomorrow.  Others turned to 1950's fashion favourites and used luxury tweeds including herringbones, wools and ribbon enhanced polychromatic glittering tweeds, to produce fur trimmed suits and coats tailored to the body.  Shrugs and ponchos, fringing and belted coats sum up New York's passion for statement outer wear for fall.

The effect gave clothes the aura of being effortlessly chic, feminine and ladylike.  They skimmed and tightly hugged the body with their narrow cut silhouettes, peplums and wider, puffed shoulders.  All this set amid pin tucked and frilly blouses with pie crust collars.  Proenza Schouler and Marc Jacobs did this best.  Jacobs made prim look sexy in the 70's retro looks that Jacobs does so well.

New York fashion shows styled clothes to be layered from bustier to top jacket.  Drainpipe jeans may set an autumn look already half there with turned up cropped drainpipes already a high fashion sale this summer.  Kaftan tops, high waistlines, ponchos, capes, fedora hats, wide man styled trousers and jeans and trousers pushed into boots were all New York styles likely to become fashion favoured trends this autumn.  Combinations of colours continue from those of the summer with flesh tone peach, purple, rich brown, greens and blues still high on the list.

Look out for high throat hugging necklines as opposed to cleavage exposure, high waistlines, ponchos, capes and fabrics of tweed, chiffon and paisley.  Mid calf or longer skirts even to ankle was the norm.  Occasion dressing was evident.  The return of the brooch for fastening cardigan knits and adorning a wide range of wardrobe items brings a return to decoration and dressing up with costume jewels.  The little green dress may soon eclipse the LBD as next season's must have!


Caroline Herrera

Caroline Herrera sought inspiration from the ski slopes.  She mixed pinstriped pants or long skirts with patterned knitwear or sweaters consisting of fur strips or ermine.  Her Audrey Hepburn inspired boat neck black shift dress was a subtle look that women often search for, but cannot find in the shops.

Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs sent out primly dressed secretarial styled models with fussy Miss Moneypenny style pussy bow blouses with neat high waisted elegant pencil skirts, with not a low rise waistline in sight. The look was schoolmarm prissy, but sexy and was every grown up boy's fantasy of a saucy school mistress or strict female dominant leader like Margaret Thatcher. 

With his closely fitting skinny cardigans, tweed suits for day and glittering dresses for night where modest aspects reigned supreme, Jacobs's racy style meant that the groomed and glamorous look was back for flirting rather than over obvious display of flesh.  He used strong colours like emerald green and deepest jade that seemed new in their revival.

Michael Kors

Michael Kors gave a show that the average person could copy as their own look.  Models sashayed the catwalk in their jeans, textural cable knit sweaters and big fur bags.  Elements of the look have been seen before, but people like it and find it easy to follow as their own fashion.  The fur bags are likely to be a huge hit as fur will be so fashionable this coming season.  Whilst wearing fur can make you look bulky, even the fattest woman can get away with a fur bag and feel she has her finger on the pulse.

Camel and lilac were a perfect foil for softly faded jeans.

Roland Mouret

Roland Mouret also toyed with little black dresses that softly draped with bloused styling and jewelled necklines that were like armour breast plates.

Anna Sui

Anna Sui made a romantic pretty collection that women who yearn for feminine styling adore in her fashion garments.  The collection included brightly dyed fox fur boleros, neat cardigans, or ribbon decorated sweaters worn with flowered skirts teamed with dainty accessories such as her heart shaped bag.

Narciso Rodriguez

Rodriguez is a Cuban American and brings just a touch of Hispanic exotica to all his designs.  Colourful piping tipped the edges of flesh toned dresses.

Oscar de la Renta

The design house of de la Renta opted for tweed suits with raw fringes.

Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler produced tailored garments that showed refinement and elegance in their graceful design.  Chic is a word that easily describes their work.

Betsy Johnson

Betsy Johnson highlighted some retro 80s styling with tomahawk hairstyles and over the knee thigh boots.

Ralph Lauren

The house of Ralph Lauren showed a spare colour palette concentrating mainly on black, but uplifted some items with touches of camel or red.  Lauren showed a regard for all things of the American south west using touches of Navajo imagery in earrings, cuffs and belts.

Zac Posen

Zac Posen showed striped lame that shimmered dramatically on the catwalk.

Matthew Williamson

Matthew Williamson used Aztec style linear graphic prints to make up Kaftan dresses and chiffon baby doll empire gowns.  Tweed with glitter thread made wonderful multi coloured jackets.

London Fashion Week

With about 40 fashion shows London Fashion Week attracted only a small number of about 2000 buyers and journalists compared to Paris which attracted 10,000 visitors.  But London can still set trends and it's clear that cleavage is out of favour with London designers too as more severe modest clothes were introduced.  Waists are back in fashion and the belted coat will characterize this year's styles from last years.

Fur tippets are likely to be all the rage by November and December as not only are they a 200 year old revived fashion item rarely seen, but they are also practical in chilly windy countries in winter.  The fur might be any type from fake to sheepskin, but they will be around and being small and less costly than a coat or jacket can help instantly update looks.  Accessories like chain mail scarves and gaiters add new touches to old looks.

With chill ever on the mind British designers covered up legs in interesting opaque tights.  Some tights will have a metallic sheen, with copper being fashionable colour for them.

Layering will also define looks as fur and sheepskin and faux jackets help keep the chill off skimpy slip dresses for evening.  Slip dresses have now been around for about 10 years but women still seem to love them.

Julian Macdonald

Julian Macdonald was master of a sophisticated show that had mink bomber jackets, leather seamed skirts and snakeskin pants worn with fox fur shrugs.

Jasper Conran

Jasper Conran's designs were strict and severe and showed women as the dominant sex through their dress.  The Equestrian look popped up here too with his flesh hugging breeches pushed into leather boots.  Like New York Conran revived the cloak in the style of floor sweeping Lord of the Rings traditional sweeping versions. 

Sir Paul Smith

Sir Paul Smith has a ready made clientele world wide and is especially well liked in Japan.  His catwalk show theme was nautical and used navy, red and white focusing on skinny trousers, cropped tops. It was predictable and quite English in the sense of county style. There were also elements of sharp tailoring, accessorised with traditional silk foulard snaffle scarves, cashmere striped sweaters and plenty of bling with gilt accessories.

Read more about earlier designer ideas for 2004 here.

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