Première Vision’s fashion emphasis had a feel for warmth made visible, with collections showing fabrics fashioned for serious winter weather. They were cossetting but at the same time used techniques to lighten and make them easily wearable. Both womenswear and menswear collections showed bouclés, knops and bumpy surfaces to achieve this by texture and handle, so that bright wool and wool blend fabrics were brushed or teased for warmth with various layers of construction to achieve maximum comfort and attraction, and double face designs with underplayed patterns giving a trompe l’oeil effect.
Coatings were to the fore. Wool coats with large patterns are on the cards, fabricated with oversized black and white checks, chevrons, herringbones or stripes - many also shown with a manipulated surface to give depth and to blur the underlying design with an indistinct cloud. In worsted Merino, a smoother fabric was interpreted with particular panache by Danmao, China; camel-coloured for elegant worsted winter overcoats, and grey Merino wool for knitted versions, both elegant and practical. Melton overcoatings found favour in greens and brown with a weight which was on the ball for the season. Lambswool with bouclés or twisted yarns gave substantial heft and imaginative colour in woven jacketings, which showed an imaginative use of bright colour against sombre grounds.
Trans-seasonal ideas are in full flood, seen in the different weights and colours which can now cross seasons and at the same time cross the gender divide. Mills no longer try to suggest the end use of fabrics, many having been surprised at seeing them being used for menswear, womenswear and also furnishings. The design mood is more one of practicality, fused with original approaches to time honoured styles.
The attraction of tweed in its full panoply of colour and texture was typified by Scottish collections with bright, assertive tartans such as Kynoch, Harris Tweed Hebrides, Lochcarron of Scotland, Linton Tweeds from the Lake District and by other views of the classic repertoire. Tweed impressed with bright and eye-catching colours at Cape Tweeds, Hinterveld - South Africa’s debut at Première Vision - and in dramatic French collections by Mahlia Kent. Tweed’s seductively complex mixtures of fibres, colours and stitches catches the moment.
Smooth country cloths, as seen at Marton Mills and other British mills, showed subtle approaches, with fabrics echoing the season’s crossover characteristics. Most of these were achieved with plain dyes, while some were brightened with specks of sparkle, such as Harris Tweed Hebrides’ starry night, navy tweed with random spaced-out bright points of colour in the yarn, or Moon’s points of light on classic checked wool and dark woven designs. These design techniques are typical of the mix of vintage, craft and edgy street influences which are the key design elements to watch for in Autumn/Winter 17/18.
Suitings in subtle colours and designs revelled in ecological approaches and sustainable manufacturing techniques. This seems particularly prevalent in the collections of luxury menswear fabrics, with sustainable qualities an important draw for customers in this high-end division of the trade. These included antique flannels, contemporary fine wools and additions of small amounts of alpaca or cashmere to winter worsted twists. Fine worsted light suitings in shades of grey and the still popular electric blue, elegant flannels and the return of the striped suiting reinforced the trend for individual designs with a move towards novel finishings and handles.