Test driving the trends with Susie Bubble

By Susie Lau

It’s all very well sending models down the catwalk in outlandish clobber, but could anyone ever wear the key trends of the new season in real life? Yes, argues Style Bubble’s celebrated blogger and sartorial adventurer Susie Lau, who test-drove a fearsome fashion foursome on the mean streets of north London.

Americana at Tom Ford; romance at Alexander McQueen and normcore at Miu Miu. Pictures / AP Images
Americana at Tom Ford; romance at Alexander McQueen and normcore at Miu Miu. Pictures / AP Images

The trend: AMERICANA

It's hard to find poles more opposite than Tom Ford and Jeremy Scott. One is cited as the king of glamour; the other a prince of kitsch, unapologetic about appealing to the lowest common denominator. For autumn/winter, however, both wound up showing off their American roots (Ford is from Austin, Texas, and Scott is from Kansas City, Missouri). Ford paid homage to the American Southwest in sequined football jerseys and luxurious cowboy boots, while Scott's Moschino debut equated fast fashion to fast food. Who wouldn't want to indulge in their American Dream? That said, donning Ford's sequin-spangled football top, velvet cowboy boots and a Moschino fast-food handbag to visit McDonald's was, maybe, Americana overkill. The cashiers were amused enough, but clearly the public could sense my unease. One woman took a long look at me as I was exiting McDonald's and very audibly stated (or rather, slated): "Slut! What is she wearing?" For the first time in my life, I was publicly slut-shamed on the street based on my attire. Despite physically exposing only my knees, Tom Ford's loud orange sequins and the spindly heels on the boots offended this woman, who felt the need to make her feelings known. I scuttled back to the car, mortified, American Dream shattered. In Ford's defence, his clothes aren't likely to be seen near a McDonald's, nor are the women who buy his designs meekly shuffling around, uncomfortable in sequins and spindly heels. It takes cojones and chutzpah to ride boldly out into this new frontier.


Sportswear: a trend that has lingered on and off in various guises over the past few seasons. It's the extreme surface decoration that fashion is after, as opposed to clothes that can withstand extreme physical exertion. Even the online fashion giant Net-a-Porter recently launched a separate division - Net-a-Sporter - selling "real" sportswear as well as clobber it has dubbed "apres-sport". In other words, you won't be breaking an actual sweat in these garments. Marc by Marc Jacobs, rebooted under Brit duo Luella Bartley and Katie Hillier, gave us skater slash motocross slash ninja chicks, mixed with ra-ra skirts and tartan bows. Purist? No. Fun and interesting? Yes. As a fair-weather runner, I love mixing bona fide sportswear with fashion pieces. For example, Christopher Kane came up with his take on sportswear by edging nylon skirts with guipure lace, mixing puffer jackets with tailoring and high-octane doses of Nike neon, albeit deployed on a high-necked frilly jumper. Who cares if I'm wearing this stuff just to walk to the supermarket and back? By riffing off well-established style genres, innovative designers such as Kane present us with something new and fresh.

The trend: ROMANCE

Poor old romance. While sportswear, streetwear and a gradual casual-ification process have been overtaking fashion to make things more "accessible" and "democratic", the frilly stuff has taken a back seat. But this season, there are a handful of designers who have indulged in unabashed, misty-eyed romance. Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen, to a soundtrack of Bjork's Bachelorette, offered up virginal deities in intricate organza and broderie anglaise gowns, roaming some mystical land; Dolce & Gabbana veered away from their Sicilian roots to imagine instead a fairy tale filled with woodland creatures, knights and princesses (Game of Thrones-tinged, just to be topical). Wickes is hardly the stuff of fairy tales but it's a good backdrop to test whether Dolce & Gabbana's appliqued cape, curlicue-embroidered heels and gem-encrusted armour can withstand the harsh light of reality. Not surprisingly, people were won over by romance. There's no getting away from the popular notion that fashion is often associated with fantasy. A lady asked where she could buy the shoes, so struck was she by their ornate detailing. A passing child exclaimed: "Are you a model? You look so pretty!" It was refreshing to live the fashion dream, as it were. And isn't that what fashion is about - selling a dream?

The trend: NORMCORE

Normcore - the ambiguous buzzword of autumn/winter 2014, spawned by the New York trend agency K-Hole and malappropriated by the fashion industry. Apparently there are so few discernible trend movements at the moment that fashion peeps have adopted this word to describe the kind of fashion that is, er, anti-fashion. Think grey sweatshirts, trainers and anything nondescript. When applied to catwalk clothing, it's ultimately flawed - once you factor in any degree of branding, embellishment or, heaven forbid, fun, the term normcore becomes redundant. Hence, my interpretation of normcore was quite loose: clothes vaguely rooted in conventional normality. Not as catchy, but more accurate when describing Dior's apple-green coat with lace-up detailing at the side, matching haute embroidered trainers, and Miu Miu's Starburst-shaded quilted-brocade pack-a-mac. That's where normcore really breaks down - surely it's wrong to have a universal and definitive meaning of what the "norm" is? Layering up the Miu Miu under the Dior coat seems entirely "normal" to me. Did the blokes outside the car-wash garage across the road think so? Probably not. That said, they've seen me traipsing up and down Seven Sisters Rd in even more complex outfits. This outfit isn't normcore as defined by K-Hole or the fashion industry. I'll settle for clothes I feel great in because they're perfectly normal - for me.

- The Independent

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