The Return of Personal Style |


This piece was written for MATCHESFASHION.COM

‘Desire is the strongest human emotion,’ the late, great Isabella Blow once said. ‘Desire for a hat, desire for a dress; that’s what drives people to want and buy things.’ In our post-truth landscape – where emotion triumphs over pragmatism – this feels truer than ever.

The chatter that we are ‘over’ trends is, of course, disingenuous. Whether it be in fashion, politics or culture, there will always be clustering around familiar ideals. Nor is it accurate to say that we have stopped anointing ‘cult’ brands – the new luxury guard includes Brock Collection, Khaite, Blazé Milano and Gabriela Hearst.

What there is, joyfully, is a new emphasis on individuality. Perhaps borne as a counter-current to Instagram, the new season’s offerings are chaotic in their variety, with influences from every decade. Whether you’re a purist or a femme romantic, the emphasis is not on the must-haves, but the must how.

At Altuzarra, fruit-print hosiery and coloured gingham were made cool again by dramatically split pencil skirts and bare midriffs. At the newly helmed Saint Laurent, Anthony Vaccarello re-considered the variables, in their simplest, nostalgic form: a velvet blouse with sweetheart neckline and a pair of boyfriend jeans was reminiscent of the iconic 1988 Vogue US cover, featuring Michaela Bercu. At Lanvin, silky separates were made modern with the unexpected edition of encrusted slides. Meanwhile, young labels such as Jacquemus ride the wave with a canny self-awareness. Shirting is having a moment, and with designer Simon Porte Jacquemus, a shirt is never just a shirt – it’s slashed, twisted and buttoned.

Off the catwalk, the women currently blowing up the style zeitgeist are united in their irreverent attitude to styling. Spanish consultant Blanca Miró pairs tartan trousers with red-capped bovver boots and a purple sweater. Stylist Pernille Teisbæk regularly melds the utilitarian and the decorative: a sequined blouse with a bomber jacket or socks with jewel-encrusted pumps. The much-photographed Veronika Heilbrunner, co-founder of fashion website, is all about contrasting elements – such as an Erdem dress with a hiking boot. But she says she keeps her style united with a ‘“rough” element, be it a sneaker, sock, T-shirt or a pair of heavy boots’. For the German stylist, the secret is simple: be comfortable. Gilda Ambrosio, one half of young label Attico, is implicit in the best-selling status of the brand’s boudoir-chic peignoirs. Utilising her own exposure through street style, an increasingly persuasive medium, Ambrosio demonstrates the unexpected versatility of her embroidered, elevated silk designs by mixing them with jeans, flats and hoodies.

Digital fashion features director of Harper’s Bazaar US Kerry Pieri says that what makes your style choices attractive to others is not an endless roll-call of new-season hits, but a fondness for the old and familiar. Renegotiating your wardrobe each season should not see older pieces rejected when a ritzy new favourite enters. I am a fan of the old but true style adage that says you should never buy anything that you can’t wear with three things you already own. Pieri says she is ‘drawn to the off-duty look of certain stylists – Julia von Boehm, Marie-Amélie Sauvé and Barbara Martelo – because they also not afraid to rewear their favourite pieces’. Effortless is a much beleaguered word, but such confidence in their own taste, regardless of what is in or out that season, makes them cool. Leandra Medine, the founder of, may be no stranger to unpredictable, emotionally-driven fashion statements, but the key to a defined sense of personal style, she says, are brands that ‘give you strong, sturdy staples and a fashion name tag that you get to write your name on’.

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