Designers behind the Spring/Summer 2021 (SS21) fashion shows are holding a mirror up to a society that is evolving, reflecting the new priorities borne out of lockdown

More than a year into the pandemic, the fashion world has learnt to adapt. An obvious change can be seen in the ways of presentation — virtual runway shows are the new norm — but in the clothes themselves, the collections that designers have put together in isolation, are indicative of a different society moulded by different priorities, interests and fancies. Working from home has resulted in a huge emphasis on comfort, but not without style: ultra-wide trousers and oversized shirts are top picks. Even street-style sweats can make a statement (think capes and heels, as seen at Brandon Maxwell). Speaking of statement, brands are no longer keeping quiet about fashion’s adverse environmental effects. There are efforts to use recycled materials and deadstock fabrics, led by powerhouses Prada, Coach and Alexander McQueen. And how do we explain Renaissanceesque designs like corsets and puffy sleeves? Surely, they are inspired by the popularity of period dramas Bridgerton and The Crown. These aside, Spring/Summer staples you know and love — florals, tie dye and pastels — are here to stay.

PASTEL POWER

Softer hues, such as baby blues and pinks, ruled runways this season but the designs are bold and fierce. From Ulla Johnson’s pastel purple piece with frilled tiers to Philipp Plein’s sweatpant set with embroidered skulls, it is clear that muted tones paired with edgy and loud designs are a fashion must.

WEARING WHITE

While all-white ensembles may not be a new trend, this year’s alabaster apparels are a refreshing take on the theme. Thom Browne and Craig Green’s runways presented a sense of whimsy with their layers and accessories. Burberry and Mara Hoffman, meanwhile, took the more elegant route with modern twists on the white dress.

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TIE DYE FOR

Tie-dye is to summer what florals are to spring. Acne Studios’ lightweight psychedelic top and Gabriela Hearst’s bold tie-dye dress are examples of multicoloured outfits done right. For a subtler take on the trend, look to Christian Dior, Raquel Allegra and Kenzo, which use muted palettes to tone down the loudness.

HARD CORE

The resurgence of corsets marks the culmination of the growing Renaissance revival the fashion world has witnessed in recent years. Balmain’s artistic bodice is one to note but so is David Koma’s sporty variation and Zimmermann’s romantic dress with visible boning.

WIDE APPEAL

Forget bell bottoms and flared pants, this season is all about loose-fit, ultra-wide trousers for both men and women. Chanel and Eudon Choi pair these wide bottoms with chic, fitted tube tops, whereas other designers have created billowy creations that clothe the wearer from top to toe.

PUFF UP

Another beloved detail of the Renaissance is the puff sleeve. If you watched Netflix’s Bridgerton, you would have noticed that Erdem’s outfits bear much resemblance to the costumes worn by the series’ debutantes. A voluminous sleeve up top, as demonstrated by Johanna Ortiz, creates a bolder silhouette but the ones that even out to the wrist, as per Chloé and Rebecca Taylor, make it more wearable.