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Craig Green AW17, J.W.Anderson AW17
Craig Green AW17, J.W.Anderson AW17Photography Chloé Le Drezen

How fashion is responding to our uncertain future

Whether it’s returning to home comforts or arming themselves in military garb, this season designers are reacting to a world in crisis

In many ways fashion is all about the future, it looks ahead and show us clothes for a time not yet passed. But if there’s one takeaway from the men’s shows so far, it’s that the industry isn’t feeling very positive about the years to come which, as Brexit and Trump’s inauguration draw nearer, is hardly surprising. While we’ve seen some designers respond to the events of 2016 by referencing the style and politics of club culture, we’ve seen others look to what is known, familiar, comforting and protective.

J.W.Anderson for example, who is one of fashion’s most ardent modernists, referenced traditional British crafts. This was most apparent in the crochet which was found throughout the collection; on scarves, sleeves, pockets, his trademark detachable zip collars and on shoes that looked like they were being protected by tea cosies. There were also patches depicting stained glass windows, which have strong associations with English churches, and enormous Argyle knits.

“The crochet and stained glass windows seemed to represent things that are cozy, familiar and comforting – particularly for British people who need all they can get right now”

“Layers on layers as a defense mechanism. Something knitty and cozy – the epitome of British craft,” the designer said of his collection before going on to discuss the “almost motherly” way he dressed his muses this season. It was as if he was wanting to wrap them up and shield them from the harsh realities of today’s world. At the same time, the crochet and knits came to represent things that are cozy, familiar and comforting – particularly for British people who, with Brexit, a rising alt-right and a crumbling NHS, need all they can get right now.

Craig Green also wrapped up his models, but in felted and quilted materials, along with garments constructed from bits of embroidered carpets stitched together. This season the designer was thinking about people who have phobias of the sea, which is widely believed to relate to a fear of the unknown – something many will be experiencing as they consider a future of global political uncertainty.

It didn’t stop in London, though – at Prada’s AW17 show in Milan, Miuccia debuted a collection fuelled by her desire for “humanity, simplicity and reality.” After showing an extremely modern collection last season, she ditched the high-tech for the homespun to explore the known, naïve and normal. The whole collection was based on corduroy and leather – materials she says “give a sense of normality” – while accessories were inspired by “low-art and naïve things” and comprised of twigs, crystals and sea shells.

Jeremy Scott and Donatella Versace responded to the world’s with a slightly different ethos. Scott went to battle with military berets, camouflage print and graphics of Transformers fighting, while Versace stressed the idea of unity – “I liked the idea of men and a brotherhood, and I believe men are stronger together,” she said after the show, which saw a mob-like gang of models dressed in a way that was slightly reminiscent of an Italian mafia family.

“We have to fight for everything we believe in. That’s the expression I wanted to use” – Jeremy Scott

Whether bolstering themselves against an uncertain future with military attire at Moschino, or wrapping themselves up in protective padding, so far designers have been responding to the world’s problems in different ways. This too shall pass, but for now let’s just take comfort in crochet.