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Coronavirus Anxiety, Gender Battles Influence the F/W 20-21 Runway

Genderless fashion may be the future, but women’s styles incorporating masculine and feminine features are everywhere for Fall/Winter 20-21.

Trend forecasting firm Fashion Snoops hosted a webinar on Thursday that outlined all of the themes and details decorating the runways at New York, London, Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks. From slouchy jeans and oversized blazers to childish florals and lingerie accents, fashion is experiencing a battle of the sexes.

And that’s not the only battle it’s seeing. COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, gave many of the shows a different look. Some designers, like Giorgio Armani who prohibited audience members from attending in light of the global health crisis, opted for presentations instead of runways. Overall, designers communicated a theme of uncertainty, as best shown with Balenciaga’s post-apocalyptic stage at Paris Fashion Week, featuring a fire- and flood-themed runway resembling the end of the world.

Dark times

One of the main themes across cities tapped into the dark times the world is currently experiencing as a result of the pandemic. Gothic glamour, shaped by structured pieces enhanced with latex and sheer panels, drove home the point of a potential future apocalypse. Dramatic fringe and all-black looks with powerful red accents communicated an urgency that was balanced by romantic, dark velvet dresses.

Fashion Snoops outlined womenswear and denim trends spotted at New York, London, Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks for Fall/Winter 20-21.
Alexander McQueen WWD/Shutterstock

Grunge also made a big appearance on the runway, with chains, buckles and tough leather complemented by slip dresses and reworked plaid.

Celestial looks provided an intergalactic escape from the world’s issues. Deep blues and purples served as the theme’s foundation, punctuated by excessive crystal and metallic embellishments.

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Flirty femme

Also serving as an escape from the trying times was the theme of girlish virtue, with pastels and doll-like silhouettes showcased by designers such as Gucci and Fendi. Ruffles, hair bandannas and ankle socks were just some of the childish influences that served a stark contrast to the other looks on the runways.

The “Little Women” look inspired by the popular novel and film also fell under this female-dominated category, with Marie Antoinette-style puffed sleeves and dainty florals leading the charge.

Lingerie also made an appearance, with bralettes layered over sheer tops and corsetry bridging the gap between gothic and flirty themes.

Men’s wear-inspired garments

Balancing the female-inspired themes was men’s wear, which showed up in various forms. In denim, this is demonstrated by baggy fits—namely, the slouchy jean, which Fashion Snoops predicts to be a major silhouette.

“This is really an item that we believe in this season,” said Melissa Moylan, vice presidnet, creative, womenswear. The style is marked by its relaxed, boyish fit with a tapered hem. As for denim washes and finishes, dye effects like acid and tinted washes, as well as ’70s-inspired patchwork, were popular on the runways.

Veronica Beard
Veronica Beard George Chinsee/WWD/Shutterstock

Keeping with the men’s wear theme were oversized blazers with pronounced shoulder padding reminiscent of the classic ’80s power suit. While this trend has been around for several seasons now, features are becoming even more exaggerated, with boxy silhouettes and wing-tipped shoulders as communicated by Balenciaga.

Capes, overcoats and suiting were especially prevalent, with houndstooth and plaid two of the most common, men’s wear-inspired patterns on the runways.