The Runway Roundup: Trend Report from Pre-Fall 21

Madeline Caris
Last Updated:
September 5, 2023
7 min

A year into this global pandemic, and the fashion landscape has evolved as it needed to.  

Whether that be changes in designs, pivots to new categories or exploration of entirely new businesses - the lockdowns have given us time to reflect, review and renew.

... the lockdowns have given us time to reflect, review and renew.

This paired with the shifting mindset of the consumer to start dressing for one's self, and clothing becoming an extension of our homes, offering comfort and reliability amidst global turbulence shows designers more than ever needed to design with their buyer in mind.

Andrews at Salvatore Ferragamo put it most aptly, "Whatever you do, there must be some casualness and ease combined with high-values and sophistication, refinement, beauty. But mostly, it has to have a certain vibrance — and to bring joy."

Looking to the Pre-Fall FW21 and Mens FW21 presentations, the below key trends emerged as designers reflected on past decades and renewed designs for today.

Elevated Comfort Dressing

Three super cool, and super comfortable looks from Givenchy, Deveaux, Jil Sander
Givenchy, Deveaux, Jil Sander

If there was one resounding theme across a majority of the collections it was that comfort had to play some sort of hand in what was being created but re-creating what comfort means because DAMN we're getting tired of sweatpants.

... re-creating what comfort means because DAMN we're getting tired of sweatpants.

The approach they take varies from designer to designer, some take a very literal approach and quite simply take pieces and make them more comfortable by the use of materials, such as Rag & Bone's blazers constructed to be more like cardigans or shirts made in a poplin/jersey mix.  Wainwright at Rag & Bone states that the experience of the pandemic will permanently change how we get dressed and there is now a blurring in the formal/casual divide.

Luke Meier at Jil Sander follows suit understanding "the need for comfort while elevating the proposition expressively", and produced track pants in a soft Nappa leather, an alternative to the classic pantsuit.

In Paris, Givenchy featured knitted dresses, silk leggings & suede sliders - all much more impressive alternatives for those who continue to WFH.

Prints - Playful or Primal?

Simon Miller, Oscar de la Renta, Christian Dior, Nicole Miller

If there was a season to try your hand at wearing prints this would be the time.  Choices abound from fun-loving illustrations to raw animal prints - the choice is really do you go playful or primal?

Everyone seems to have their own spin on just how to wear prints in pre-fall, and why not?  Break up the plain and bring back joy, if not by way of self-expression.

Back in December, Chelsea Hansford of Simon Miller drew inspiration from fashion's recent video game obsession (understandable since gaming is a newfound habit for many!) and introduced cute prints of racing cars and chequered flags ala Mario Kart.

Over at Oscar de la Renta, the palette was bright, floral and fruity with pineapples adorned across multiple tops and dresses - exactly what the doctor ordered (oh wait, was that apples?).

Meanwhile in the Animal Print Camp, roars Christian Dior  with over 20 looks featuring animal print in either ready to wear or accessory form covering hats, bags and shoes meaning you could quite literally be head to toe in leopard spots.

Nicole Miller is right alongside with animal prints dominating a third of her collection, and the added delight of elephants being printed onto crop tops and minis.

Dramatic Monochomatic

Carolina Herrera, Moschino, Oscar de la Renta

For the minimalists out there that gravitate to the dark and light of monochrome, you're in luck as many designers in pre-fall featured black & white in spots & stripes.

Over in New York, Carolina Herrera engaged her usual regal sophistication but took it for a playful ride in pre-fall, introducing more fluid lines and juxtaposing both spots and stripes in the very same look.

In usual Moschino form, Jeremy Scott pushes the boundaries of fashion to new realms this season thoroughly enjoying odd mismatches.  The latter part of his collection, takes "prisoner stripes" and presents them in huge cute bows, mini dresses and an evening gown to boot.

Three looks from Oscar de la Renta's Pre-Fall 21 show
Oscar de la Renta

The Monochromatic Medal goes to Laura Kim & Fernando Garcia, designers at Oscar de la Renta, the levels of different design layers being applied in Look 16 alone is swoon-worthy.  Designers Kim & Garcia take on:

  • monochrome,
  • geometric prints,
  • diamond-edge hemlines, AND
  • create movement in the flyaway detailing

All in ONE LOOK.  One glorious, fabulous, 'creative and yet still commercial' look.

Then they carry theming through in a party-ready mini dress in Look 17, to embellishment perfection in Look 18.  I'll take all three looks thanks! #takemymoney

Stunning Sixties

Gucci, Versace, Oscar de la Renta.

Michele of Gucci portrayed the most literal inspiration from the 60's with references to this iconic fashion era evident all throughout the collection.  Both 60's silhouettes and prints made appearances from bootleg pants in plaid, to pantsuits (thank you Twiggy) and paisley shirts.

60's Style Icon Twiggy rocking the pantsuit.
60's Style Icon Twiggy rocking the pantsuit.

Versace adopted paisley and reimagined it into 2021 in neon tones, paired with a miniskirt babydoll dress - a key signature of the 60's Youthquake Movement.

60's fringing made an elegant appearance at Oscar de la Renta - showing that there is a 60's silhouette, print or design detail for everyone this season!

Leather Looks (Pre-Fall Unisex Trend)

Chanel, Salvatore Ferragamo, Givenchy, Deveaux.

A pre-fall 21 trend seen across both Womens and Mens was Leather, which works perfectly for the southern hemisphere dropping in the cooler months of May, June & July.

In New York, Tommy Ton's Deveaux collection covered both women and men - showing a blazer & maxi skirt in vegan leather for the ladies, and a hoodie and pant set for the gents.

Similarly over at Salvatore Ferragamo, Paul Andrew used deadstock leathers to craft women's  patchworked skirts and maxi dresses as well as men's fold-and-pack puffers, spreading the leather trend across both genders.

Bohemian for the Bros

Gucci, Christian Dior, Gucci again.

Taking a page from the 60's trend seen in Womens Pre-Fall, the 60's bohemian trend in menswear emerged in several collections.  

Hailing from a time when the Peacock Revolution paved the way for men to break out of their staid boring grey suits to bright bold colors, vivid prints and use of new materials and design elements such as suede, velvet and ruffles.

Alessandro Michele at Gucci led the charge in this trend showing many a bellbottom, exaggerated widths of lapels and loud prints dominating the pieces.

Over in Paris, Kim Jones of Dior Homme created a genius fusion of tie dye turtlenecks and muted corduroy, with the street art prints of East Village artist Kenny Scharf.

Nothin' like the 90's

Louis Vuitton, Versace, Dsquared2.

The 90's with their windbreakers, baggy pants and oversized flannel shirts fits right into this new found desire for comfort.

Donatella at Versace wanted to infuse pre-fall with a joyous spirit, and from her design team came a lot of 90's inspired pieces.  Windbreakers in multiple colourways, plaid in primary colours and the 90's iconic bucket hat dominated the collection.

Over at Louis Vuitton, cargo pants made an appearance along with many a bucket hat styled with an array of looks from casual tie-dyed blousons to a double-breasted suit (stayin' sun smart over there in Paris!)

Givenchy? Thom Browne? Yup, you guessed it bucket hats!


Rag & Bone, Versace, Dsquared2.

Camouflage in fashion you may say became official in 1971 when Vogue declared the print as a “functional, practical, good looking print and just as wearable as the everyday blue jean”.

In recent times, this trend has re-emerged in both FW19 and FW20, and looks to continue into Pre-Fall 21.

Rag & Bone features the print in a pant and casual jacket, similarly to Dsquared2 who produced a camo pant (styled with a cowboy boot, because hey why not)?

Versace took camouflage to whole new levels, imagining the print into everything from jackets, pants, puffer jackets, skirts and suits for men and women.

Burberry showcased a number of variations of camouflage, from the traditional to a more graphic & digitized modern day version.

Ivy League

Balmain, Fear of God, Rag & Bone.

For those who just feel more themselves in formal outfits, never fear there's something for you this season because the men's Ivy League fashion trend will you provide you with (non-hoodie, non-cargo pant) options.  

The Ivy League trend emerged during the mid 50's through to 60's from college campuses on the East Coast of the USA and evolved into the Preppy trend as the pieces became more casual.  

In Pre-Fall Mens 21, cable knit jumpers are seen at Salvatore Ferragamo, and Balmain presents their version of the college blazer.  But it's Fear of God that really goes down the preppy road, featuring sports coats, chinos and penny loafers.  With that combo, you could not get more Ivy League if you tried.


The two prominent themes this season is comfort and joy.  

Comfort because this is what we have been accustomed to - like Andrews at Salvatore Ferragamo said this season, "after months at home Zooming in their pajamas [they're] not dying to be in form-fitting garments again".

"... after months at home Zooming in their pajamas [they're] not dying to be in form-fitting garments again".

BUT, we are not looking to just be comfortable at the expense of how fashion makes us feel.  And by "feel" not just in a tactile manner (ie. wow this feels itchy) but how it affects our mood (ie. wow I feel  bad-ass in this jacket).

Many designers this season have conscientiously looked to infuse a sense of dream and joy into their collections as well. From Jil Sander, Donatella Versace to Salvatorre Ferragamo the importance of bringing vibrance and a joyous spirit is highlighted in all their collection talking points.

Addressing both the physical need of comfort and the emotional, mental need of joy this season is a trend I hope remains far into the future of fashion.

Industry & Trends
Subscribe to Style Arcade
Arrow pointing north-east