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Porter
Cover story

The SS20 Collections To Covet

With

Edita

From Bottega Veneta’s perfect trench, resplendent in red leather, to Gucci’s second-skin pencil skirt you didn’t even know you needed (you do), the latest collections were a masterclass in honing – and in turn elevating – the pieces that will reinvigorate your closet for spring. Here, NET-A-PORTER’s fashion director KAY BARRON considers the power players, while Edita captures the essence of SS20 in the season’s most seductive new looks

Photography Carin BackoffStyling Helen Broadfoot
Cover Stories
Main picture and above: bodysuit, and leather skirt, both Gucci

The spring/summer ’20 collections were not about attention-seeking trends or cerebral interpretations of incomprehensible themes, they were about shopping. Doesn’t sound that revolutionary, does it? Yet for years, designers haven’t necessarily put their customer first. Instead, they would give them what they wanted long before they actually knew they wanted it or, indeed, even liked it. But right now, fashion is about making sure the pieces you add to your closet each season are so beautiful and so timeless that you will want to – and can – wear them immediately and keep them forever. Designers and brands have revisited their core strengths to deliver the signature pieces they have long been loved for, whether that be the perfect trench, a little piece of summer escapism or the best-cut LBD you’ve ever slipped into.

But SS20 was also about something else we haven’t seen much of recently – clothes to have a really good time in. Dresses that demand you take them out, tops that will command attention, and bright and beautiful colors that don’t deserve to stay at home. This isn’t the season to spend hours getting ready, only to worry about the creases you’ll create if you sit at the party and end up leaving in the first half hour. Instead, go out and stay out, as many designers have ensured it will be a night (or many nights) to remember.

Gucci

Alessandro Michele has been fashion’s maximalist king since he turned the Gucci house on its head when he was appointed creative director in 2015. But, for SS20, he surprised us all by stripping it back. Not to basics – let’s be clear – but by adopting a slightly less-is-more approach, he re-energized his Gucci once again. The signature color and decadence were unmistakable, but, this time, there was something more, once associated with the Gucci of old – sex appeal. Riding crops accessorized transparent black dresses, vinyl featured heavily, while seductively high slits in skirts, and tantalizingly low-cut leotards revealed acres of sleek skin. “They’re not sexy in my opinion,” Michele said. “They’re elegant.” Of course, in his hands, it couldn’t be anything but utterly desirable.

The signature color and decadence were unmistakable, but, this time, there was something more, once associated with the Gucci of old – sex appeal

Dress, belt and bracelet, Versace

Versace

Versace is the 1990s. The decade is the label’s natural home and, in a season that is paying homage to the ’90s, this is the perfect time to hero the brand that defined an era. We’re talking short black dresses with Medusa-embellished gold buttons, square necklines that make you want to donate all your round ones, and shoulders so perfectly square on a denim jacket that you want to stuff your existing ones. Versace makes you want to dress differently. Better. Sexier. Probably more like 50-year-old J-Lo, who closed the show in a version of her internet-breaking 2000 Grammy dress. “The dress was a symbol for a woman who wants to show herself and be proud,” Versace said. But nothing about the brand is for shrinking violets; these are clothes for women who value their swagger. And thank goodness for them.

We’re talking short black dresses with Medusa-embellished gold buttons, square necklines that make you want to donate all your round ones, and shoulders so perfectly square on a denim jacket that you want to stuff your existing ones

Shirt, pants, necklace and bracelet, all Chloé

Chloé

With five seasons now under her belt, Natacha Ramsay-Levi’s Chloé woman has emerged as a romantic, but with a strength that shouldn’t be underestimated. She also has no interest in trends, or trying to be something she’s not. Which means that everything she wears, from an oversized but perfectly tailored suit to a frou gown, or simply a silk blouse and pinstriped pants, is totally true to her. “I felt it was a good moment to be able to make silhouettes more perennial and less disposable,” Ramsay-Levi says. “Less about what is in the fashion of the day and more about the signatures of Chloé.” This was a considered approach to fashion, making pieces that you will want to keep forever – and, believe me, you will.

The Chloé woman has emerged as a romantic, but with a strength that shouldn’t be underestimated. She also has no interest in trends, or trying to be something she’s not

Coat, shoes, clutch, necklace and bracelet, all Bottega Veneta

Bottega Veneta

All eyes remain on Daniel Lee. Could he repeat the phenomenal success of his debut collection with his second runway collection for SS20? Well, of course he could. In fact, he served up even more pieces that racked up a waiting list just seconds after the final model exited the runway. Lee’s Bottega Veneta is true to the signatures, or “solidifying the icons” as he calls it, but he’s made the Bottega woman instantly recognizable. Powerful, though totally feminine; relevant, but not chasing a cool factor (though that has certainly chased her). His collection is a veritable must-have shopping list. The perfect leather trench coat, check; an asymmetric jersey dress so simple yet so effective, check; a nylon utility short suit that you would never have thought you wanted and now you can’t think of anything else, check. Lee is clearly enjoying reinventing the Italian house, and we are all desperate to be part of that fun.

Powerful, though totally feminine; relevant, but not chasing a cool factor (though that has certainly chased her). His collection is a veritable must-have shopping list

T-shirt, and skirt, both Isabel Marant

Isabel Marant

Oh, to be an Isabel Marant girl. All long-limbed, glossy skinned, and clearly having the time of her life on a never-ending vacation in Brazil, sound-tracked by the best playlist you’ve ever heard. “Colorful, summery, crafty, and a lot of skin!” Marant said. “You can imagine her coming off the beach.” Her life is a party, but thankfully we’ve all been invited. Because, for every pair of shimmering disco shorts, there is a pair of super-flattering slouchy jeans, for every crocheted crop top, there are sweaters that are every bit as sexy. Marant is the ultimate free-spirit brand, and there is definitely no age limit on that.

For every pair of disco shorts, there is a pair of super-flattering slouchy jeans… Marant is the ultimate free-spirited brand, and there is definitely no age limit on that

Dress, and boots, both Saint Laurent

Saint Laurent

The Saint Laurent woman is cool. It’s undeniable. Yet, under Anthony Vaccarello’s artistic direction, she isn’t cold and she is definitely approachable. You don’t just want to be her – you want to be friends with her. And you want to live that 1970s lifestyle with her. Whether that be through the short shorts – of which there are many (and if you can, please do) – or the opulent dresses in shades so smoky and luxurious it’s as though you are moving through them, this is a collection that plays out your sartorial fantasies. Regardless of who you are, where you are or what you are doing, just embrace the Saint Laurent dream.

You don’t just want to be her – you want to be friends with her. And you want to live that 1970s lifestyle with her… This is a collection that plays out your sartorial fantasies

Dress, Loewe; shoes, Saint Laurent

Loewe

A masterclass in craftsmanship, vision and true luxury, Jonathan Anderson’s SS20 Loewe was considered his best yet, and the bench was already set pretty high. The designer described the collection as ‘ethereal, aristocratic and poetic’, but beyond the essence of it, this is still fashion that you want to, and can, wear – exquisite lace dresses, exaggerated leather collars on exaggerated A-line coats, layered shirts that still feel pure and not overly designed, and an array of exceptional white dresses that you just want to own. You immediately know that you already own a piece of fashion history, for this is a collection that people will refer to, and lust after, for decades to come.

You immediately know that you already own a piece of fashion history, for this is a collection that people will refer to, and lust after, for decades to come

Dress, Valentino

Valentino

This season, Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli wanted to strip everything back. And in essence, he dedicated the opening of the collection to the white shirt, or at least a study of it through a couture lens. “It brings the attention from the dress per se to the personality that gives life to it,” he said pre-show. “From the object to the individual.” Of course, the ‘simple’ white dresses were anything but, and it would be a challenge to look beyond the magnificent shape, silhouette, embellishment or detail to concentrate on the woman wearing it. Perhaps even more difficult when the wave of bold and punchy neon shades swept out, so juicy you could almost taste them, serving as a reminder that Piccioli can deliver the pure and the plush and you know you could live your best life in all of it.

The ‘simple’ dresses were anything but, and it would be a challenge to look beyond the magnificent shape, silhouette, embellishment or detail