Recently, at an incredibly intimate gathering of less than thirty of South Africa’s top media editors, fashion industry heavy hitters and an assortment of pretty, young things were privileged to enjoy Swedish retailer H&M’s presentation of their latest Autumn/Winter ’16 Studio collection at the H&M Studio in the Mother City and at the Alexander Theatre in downtown Jozi (dinner was served on the theatre’s stage, nogal). At both events, Amelia May Woudstra and Conrad Roselt who are H&M in South Africa wooed the guests with their humour and informative and detailed trends talk.
With emerging public relations powerhouse Jenna McArthur at the helm, you know that this event would not only be the hottest ticket in town but also the hottest collaborators working behind the scenes to make sure things were flawlessly executed. I can say this without any shame because friends Alwijn Burger (aka The Blomboy) and Jacques Erasmus (of our favourite mid-week brunch spot Hemelhuijs) would have been anyones first choice for the most creative décor and food to serve to a luminary gathering of this kind.
But back to the fashion!
H&M Studio for AW16 is an elevated collection of individual pieces rich in detail, from the precision of cut to the embroideries that appear throughout. Tailoring has oversized shoulders and a fitted waist, an hourglass shape which contrasts with Swedish folkloric influences in both silhouette and embellishment. Meanwhile, long-sleeve draped dresses bring glamour and softness.
“There is a new femininity in this H&M Studio collection. It’s about female strength and power, with a fresh look at folklore and romance. It’s very elevated, and also very real,” explained Ann-Sofie Johansson in a supplied trends briefing book as her words took the gathered fashionistas on a journey through Swedish folklore which inspired the silhouettes, prints and embellishments and folkloric blouses.
You could see the romanticism of the long sheer dress printed with the Swedish lynx while coats played with shape, from oversized utility styles that wrap the body, to double-breasted wool coats with a rounded short sleeve. A contrast of materials reveals the complexity of character, from shearling coats to velvet tailoring, bringing back the feminine softness to tailoring, as well as glamour to a long draped dress while shearling added the necessary contrast and a sense of Swedish heritage.
I was very interested to hear what menswear had in store, for no other reason than that I would seem more informed (I know, right?) given that Cape Town would be treated to the SA Menswear collections in a few weeks’ time. Plus it would be a lovely side swipe to reference the trends booklet with “Andreas thinks this…” or “Andreas said that…” to the jealous bitches who didn’t crack the nod to attend either events.
Intuitive styling takes an updated look at menswear classics with the bomber now elongated to create a new outerwear garment. Car-coats are reborn in recycled wool and traditional fabrics like my favourite corduroy are cut into utilitarian shapes.
All important to any Scandinavian country or the Highveld during winter is that knitwear becomes the essential layering piece of the season. Outfits are often monochrome, which is great for those winter mornings and the hassle of having to make a choice every morning while giving the sense of a new uniform for city life.
In case you were wondering, or didn’t speak Swedish (luckily my Danish isn’t too rusty) the first part of the post seemed so apt as truly “the water you collect from the stream teaches you about its source” and that is what this evening was about: finding the source of fashion for this coming season in September at an H&M store near you.