Year of the Magpie: Pre­fall 2016

By Cassandra Gagnon

In the recent Pre­fall 2016 collections, excess seemed to hold reign. As an individual a little over

the minimalism/athleisure trends that have been holding fashion hostage, this return to Nancy

Drew cuts with Old Hollywood excess came as a breath of fresh air. Especially at

Valentino,Gucci, and Alexander McQueen did this aesthetic hold most strongly, with mixed

whimsical animal motif prints, rich furs, and demure cuts all gave a romantic, retro reboot to a new season.

Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, the creative directors of Valentino since 2008,

delivered a line spanning different geographic and era influences, in part due to their channeling

of the recently deceased Italian designer Elio Fiorucci, who often combined global styles. This

shows in the American use of shearling and denim, as well as the Japanese influence in oriental

embroidery and traditional kimono cuts. The two sides were defined not only in silhouettes and

materials, but in the glamorous pop from the American and the elegant simplicity in the


Next is Alessandro Michele for Gucci, who has certainly taken the brand far from past designer

Tom Ford’s flashy sex appeal, and moved towards a more reserved, yet still intriguing approach.

It is a line that truly exemplifies Michele’s new Gucci woman, and solidifies this year as the one

of the magpie, a term Vogue uses towards the line to describe the scavenging and collecting of

all different fabrics, prints, baubles, and accessories, and somehow seamlessly completing looks

that are shockingly cohesive, while each piece holds its own right, an impressive marketing feat

for sure. The collection included a look made of purple and red, from the fur coat, to the head

wrap, tights and gloves, in a very mod sixties meets early 2000s sense that somehow works, and

a pale blue ruffled gown straight from your mother’s prom.

Rounding off the trio of decadence is none other than Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen.

Definitely no stranger to the avant garde, Burton brings that drama within the line down to a still

accessible ensemble. Deep burgundies and the brightest crimsons create a whole color spectrum

of reds, and again we see animal motifs in a coat with moths, birds, and, of course, skulls. Just

like at Valentino we see Asian inspired embroidery on sheer bases. A gold ruffled gown fit for

the silver screen.

This season seemed straight out of an estate sale dream, all piled together into over the top yet

somehow refined outfits, creating a craving for more of everything, a longing for the excess of a

Golden Age while we are far from it economically. However, there is a hope in the quirky

oversized glasses or evening gloves that a trip to a flea market or rummage through a relative’s

attic may just give us the luxury we never saw before, coming full circle in the round of the coin.