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FW20’s Most Impactful Runway Looks

After pouring through hundreds of runway collections, we’ve narrowed it down to these 15 looks, all guaranteed to make a splash come September.

FW20’s Most Impactful Runway Looks

Anchor Image: Key looks from Dior’s FW20 show.
(Image: Laura Marie Cieplik/Dior)

Following the FW20 shows finally coming to a close, there’s no better time like the present to take stock of everything we’ve just seen on the runway.

Amidst the usual fare of Fashion Week drama – including surprise appointments, designer rants, and a coronavirus outbreak midway through — there were also plenty of spectacular looks that we saw. Hits included Saint Laurent’s return to the heady glamour days in the ’80s, the dreamy looks paraded at Max Mara and Marc Jacobs’ return to his girlish looks that charmed audiences.

Before they hit stores in September, here’s a quick run-down of the most impactful, beautiful and trend-leading looks to expect. From cultural signifiers to downright gorgeous embellishments, there’s plenty to excite you in the future ahead.

  • FW20's Most Impactful Looks
    01 | PRADA

    What:
    A sleeveless blouse and tie, layered underneath grey wool coordinates with black embellishment.
    Why: Just two days before announcing the appointment of Raf Simons as the house’s new co-creative director, Miuccia Prada presented a collection that was rife with Prada-isms. Summarily, the collection wanted to subvert the symbols of femininity and fragility — such as fringing and lingerie elements — and give them a sense of power. That message feels most clear in this dramatic outfit, which takes on “business casual” with a party-ready twist.
  • FW20's Most Impactful Looks
    02 | RICHARD QUINN

    What:
    A dress entirely embroidered in sequins and pearls.
    Why: As a celebration of London’s Pearly Kings and Queens — a practice that dates back to 1911 where groups of men and women who get dressed in outfits that are spangled with pearls to raise money for charity — Quinn’s first few looks were festooned with every manner of sparkly knick-knack he had. In a season where designers are gearing up for flagging financial figures that will come with an economic recession, Quinn’s look is a joyous sight to behold.
  • FW20's Most Impactful Looks
    03 | CHRISTIAN DIOR

    What:
    A black Bar jacket, with matching trousers, shirt and tie.
    Why: By now, most of us would be well-versed with Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri and her obsession over feminist messaging. But few would have imagined that her FW20 collection would be shown the day after Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of rape. As one critic noted, this moment felt like “the righteous fury of the #MeToo movement replaced temporarily by satisfaction”. Opening the show was a sober black pantsuit, and it made for a strong statement: the once-controversial attire of women, now a symbol of gravitas.
  • FW20's Most Impactful Looks
    04 | SIES MARJAN

    What:
    A white dress with foliage motifs.
    Why: Creative director Sander Lak should be applauded for finding fascinating ways of creating new materials for his FW20 collection. On this dress, he collaborated with Cornell University to create a pattern where leaves were hammered directly onto the fabric, leaving behind ghostly colour stains that formed a pattern. Elsewhere, plant roots engineered by Diana Scherer were coaxed to grow in a specific way to become part of a blouse.
  • FW20's Most Impactful Looks
    05 | TOM FORD

    What:
    A cashmere knit, with a sequinned floor-length skirt.
    Why: Tom Ford was referencing Tom Ford — specifically, his years of creating hyper-sexy, unabashedly glamorous looks at Gucci at Yves Saint Laurent. In this outfit, that love for glamour comes back, but is tempered with a New York City sensibility that gave it a modern sensuality. An oversized sweater with an evening skirt? If Ford does it, we’re following suit.
  • FW20's Most Impactful Looks
    06 | TOD’S

    What:
    A tailored shirt underneath a leather bustier, with grey trousers.
    Why: In explaining his vision for the house, Tod’s new creative director Walter Chappioni said that he was looking to reinvigorate the brand with sensuality and “a sense of Italian good taste”. That sentiment is best conveyed in this look, which combines sober tailoring that the Italians take ever so seriously, with the hint of sexiness that comes courtesy of the bustier top.
  • FW20's Most Impactful Looks
    07 | SAINT LAURENT

    What:
    A latex top with a camel-toned cashmere skirt.
    Why: Latex often carries the idea of being related to bondage — a far cry from the quiet luxury that is denoted by a camel cashmere skirt. Yet in this look, it magically works. Designer Anthony Vaccarello wanted to explore the haute bourgeois of the ’80s and ’90s — which entailed dressing up with a certain devil-may-care attitude to properness and elegance — and in this look, it melded perfectly.
  • FW20's Most Impactful Looks
    08 | GIORGIO ARMANI

    What:
    A bevy of haute couture looks.
    Why: Giorgio Armani’s show played out the day the coronavirus outbreak happened in Italy. In response, the designer had ten Chinese models trot out in pieces from his couture collections from SS09 and SS19 — both coincidentally inspired by China — as a sign of solidarity with the Chinese people. In the days where reports of racism and xenophobia against Asians are increasing, this was a welcoming statement from the Italian house.
  • FW20's Most Impactful Looks
    09 | BOTTEGA VENETA

    What: A rhinestoned green dress, paired with thigh-high leather cowboy boots.
    Why: After all the accolades creative director Daniel Lee has received, FW20 saw the designer push out into exciting, new territory and establish even more ground. With carwash vented hems, clingy knits and plenty of sparkly dresses that are contrasted by no-nonsense cowboy boots, it was exciting to see the design wunderkind explore new languages without breaking away from his winning formula of minimalist, sculptural silhouettes.
  • FW20's Most Impactful Looks
    10 | MARC JACOBS

    What: A metallic dress composed of lively ribbon loops.
    Why: During his SS19 show, Marc Jacobs went on a full-blown exploration of couture-esque shapes that involved plenty of acidic colour and voluminous shapes. Three seasons on, and Jacobs is pulling back on the exaggeration in favour of a look that fits better with his DNA. His FW20 brimmed with a girlishness and youth — the same principals that endeared him to the industry in his early days — without removing all the joyfulness that his past few collections embodied. In this dress, it’s a combination of the aforementioned girlish vibes with a new grown-up appeal.
  • FW20's Most Impactful Looks
    11 | BALENCIAGA

    What: A tent-shaped dress in red patent leather with an oversized bow.
    Why: Exploring the idea of apocalyptic-chic, Balenciaga’s show was a chockful of Demna-isms — rugby shoulders, grandma florals and strict tailoring all abounded as models navigated a dark, water-filled runway. Easily the standout look of the collection came in this red dress. With an arresting play of volume in a bright cherry red that was part couture, part armour, part potential makeshift-home. If the world is ending, then we’d want to go out looking as chic as we can in Balenciaga.
  • FW20's Most Impactful Looks
    12 | GIVENCHY

    What: A sheer blouse with a feathery motif, and black trousers.
    Why: Givenchy’s Clare Waight Keller revisited the idea of French cinema and the elegance of arthouse film stars. Amidst a beautiful collection that feted the legacy of house founder Hubert Givenchy — where effortless layering and draping meets a certain French je ne sais quoi — this monochromatic look felt particularly poignant for the modern-day Givenchy muse.
  • FW20's Most Impactful Looks
    13 | LOUIS VUITTON

    What: A panelled sleeveless top, with a bouffant textured skirt.
    Why: This season’s Louis Vuitton collection featured plenty of things that creative director Nicolas Ghesquire is best-known for. In this look, a blend of sci-fi panelling meets the can-can skirts of the Moulin Rogue, it showcases Ghesquire’s love of intermixing different and often disparate influences together.
  • FW20's Most Impactful Looks
    14 | CHANEL

    What: An embellished tweed blazer with matching shorts.
    Why: Continuing her exposition of effortlessly feminine, no-nonsense confidence, Virginie Viard’s equestrian-themed show produced this beautiful shorts suit. With an embellished bib that glimmered as the model moves, it represented that youthful, rebellious sense of freedom that Coco Chanel often championed in her day.
  • FW20's Most Impactful Looks
    15 | ALEXANDER MCQUEEN

    What: An embroidered tulle dress.
    Why: The nude tulle plays into the idea of feminine fragility, but it only gets interesting when it’s contrasted by the blood-red colour of the embroidered patterns. Together, these two opposing qualities juxtapose each other beautifully. When paired with thigh-high leather boots (another slightly BDSM-ish touch), it comes together to create a showstopping evening look.

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