For spring/summer 2016, the catwalks weren’t short of bag varieties with everything from ladylike glamour to jolts of rainbow bright all storming the runways. The common theme running through every bag this season? Functionality. With no microscopic ‘can barely fit a credit card’ sizes or difficult to handle totes in sight, the new season bags lent themselves more to solid shapes and roomy sizing.
The seventies theme of the last few years showed no sign of slowing down for spring. This year however, it’s less about hippie fringing and bohemian detailing, with the focus on a muted palette of sandy beige flowing through to chestnut brown, and a relaxed approach, with loose bags slung across the body, smooth suede and retro accents all making an appearance. Look to Ralph Lauren for inspiration, and the house’s sturdy leather bowling bag and Michael Kors Collection with its selection of easy, breezy suede pieces with contrasting leather elements. The order of the day here is ‘throw over your shoulder, sling in everything you need, and be on your way’.
2016 is definitely the year of the prim and proper, fold-over flap, front clasp handbag. Harking back a few decades, with a true vintage style, these ultra-feminine bags bear structured frames and were seen in a host of candy colours, from bubblegum blue and sunshine yellow at Delpozo to piecey patchwork at Boss. While some of the models kept to tradition and carried the bags nestled in the crook of their arm, many brought the look bang up to date by shunning the norm, foregoing the handles and straps, and instead clutching them at the top for a more laidback ‘grab and go’ feel.
If there’s one print to look out for this season, it’s reptile skin. Whether inky blue alligator at Zac Posen, dark emerald python at Jason Wu or realistic snakeskin details, from piping to straps to embossment, seen just about everywhere, there was no escaping the wrath of the reptiles this season. In terms of colour, bright rainbow hues rule the roost, with graphic designs, geometric shapes, playful stripes and mixed-up prints seen on almost every runway.
When the bags weren’t showing off a kaleidoscopic spectrum of colours, they turned in the opposite direction, foregoing all colour and making a statement in bleached-out stark white. From bucket bags to squishy totes and big and boxy carry-alls with contrasting metal hardware, this pure minimalism perfectly complemented the bags’ clean lines and structured shapes.
Across the catwalks, clear sheeny plastic was the material of choice for everything from hats to shoes, but it really came into its own when swinging from the wrists of the models in bag form. Far from simplistic, the fabric lent itself an expensive quality in shimmering grey and blue tones with bright gold detailing at Loewe, while Christopher Kane showed off flat and functional pieces with a jolt of interest on the straps.
As for the details, the new season is all about the chains. Whether completely covered in them as at Alexander Wang or bearing industrial-sized loops at Marni, to long and dangling at Burberry Prorsum, lightly draped at Calvin Klein and sculptural works of art at J.W. Anderson, you won’t go far wrong with a little chain reaction this spring.