Key spring/summer 2024 trends to know now
The most talked-about collection of the spring/summer 2024 shows was the one that wasn't there. Phoebe Philo, who has yet to unveil the first fruits of her eponymous line, which was originally scheduled to debut online in September, some six years after her departure from Céline, dominated the fashion news cycle all month. As spring/summer 2024 fashion trends piled up, designers nervously waited to see if their collections would be eclipsed by a spontaneous digital launch of a woman many revere as fashion's messiah.

Her status as the industry's savior was accentuated by the news that the spring/summer 2024 show would be Sarah Burton's last collection for Alexander McQueen and that Gabriela Hearst would also be leaving Chloé. Coming up: Sabato de Sarno to Gucci, Peter Hawkings to Tom Ford, Peter Do to Helmut Lang, and Louise Trotter to Carven. Does fashion have a woman designer problem? At LVMH, the world's largest luxury conglomerate, only Dior and Pucci have female creative directors, while Stella McCartney and Phoebe Philo are eponymously managed. At Kering, the second largest fashion conglomerate, not a single brand is led by a woman, nor by a person of color.

In the face of this demoralizing disparity and an equally depressing economic and political backdrop, designers played it safe for spring/summer 2024. The palette was muted, with black and white doing away with the bright colors that are usually in the limelight for summer collections. Retinal red was one of the few tones that made it through the gagged color wheel. The post-pandemic era of body positivity-and the nude looks that came with it-has largely vanished, and with it the wider variety of body types that had begun to populate the runways.

The flashy dresses are gone, and understated chic, supported by wardrobe essentials such as trench coats, pencil skirts, pantsuits and good jeans, has arrived. On the Tagwalk search engine, which analyzed more than 11,000 images from the spring/summer 2024 runway shows in New York, London, Milan, and Paris, looks labeled as "minimalism" are up 46 percent from the previous spring/summer 2023 season. Logoed looks, on the other hand, decreased by 52 percent, while looks tagged "90s" increased by 42 percent-the latter was also the most sought-after tag. With the 25th anniversary of Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy's untimely death coming up next year, the succession-fueled "quiet luxury" trend is morphing into something more akin to the understated New York elegance of the 1990s of the former Calvin Klein publicist.

What will you wear next year? The good news is that you probably already own most of the key elements of spring and that smart styling (a touch of red here, a crisp white shirt there) will allow you to easily update. Ballet flats and Mary-Janes aren't going anywhere, nor is a well-cut blazer. And carrying a bowling bag chock-full of last night's high heels, a spare pair of socks, your notebook, wallet, keys and some paracetamol is no longer something to be ashamed of, thanks to Miuccia Prada and Miu Miu. The designer said her fashion show was an exploration of modern beauty: "Not beauty, but beauties, an embrace of unique characters, the joy of living." Momentarily, she gave us something to smile about.

Short shorts 
If you can coolly observe the short-shorts trend without your mind immediately replaying the song "1957" by the Royal Teens (or the Homer Simpson homage), well, you are culturally more solid than we are. Microshorts hit the catwalks in Milan - memorably opening Gucci's new-look show, now under the direction of Sabato de Sarno - and filtered into Paris as well, from Chanel, Alexander McQueen and Isabel Marant. Consider it the logical conclusion of the fall predilection for no-pants.

White noise
Will you say yes to the white dress? From diaphanous and sheer to embroidered and densely textured, designers have signaled a clear departure from the euphoric bursts of color and frothy pastels that come each spring with a smattering of swan-white dresses.

High-waisted pants
Rely on Jonathan Anderson to define the silhouette of the season. At Loewe, the designer celebrated his 10th anniversary at the Spanish house by introducing a new form of very high-waisted pants, so high that the pants have a built-in corset to hold them in place below the bust. The good news is that they immediately elongate the legs, as witnessed by Anderson's colleagues at Alaïa, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, and Saint Laurent.

Scent of roses
Romance was in the air at Simone Rocha, where fresh, pale pink, long-stemmed roses were trapped between layers of tulle that made up the prettiest of party dresses. The rose theme was curiously reprised in the four major fashion cities for spring. Olivier Rousteing, who was feeling philosophical after most of his Balmain collection was stolen a few days before his runway show, quoted Gertrude Stein's 1913 poem "Sacred Emily" with its famous line "Rose is a rose is a rose" before a floral dress outing; while Sarah Burton closed her tenure at Alexander McQueen with a collection partially inspired by a blood-red rose and the female anatomy. With rose prints, floral embellishments, three-dimensional appliqués, or petal-shaped silhouettes, designers from Rei Kawakubo to Richard Quinn are feeling...prickly.

Polo club
If Ms. Prada says the polo shirt feels right again, who are we to disagree? With Miu Miu leading the way as one of the most influential shows on the calendar, prepare to see a lot more of the humble collared cotton style, which was paired with everything from men's beach shorts to micro-mini skirts with ruffles, from gold brocade shift dresses to sequin-embellished blouses. The country club vibe was maintained elsewhere as well, with rugby shirts making an appearance at Dries Van Noten and DSquared2, and flip-flops and beach towels gracing the looks at Chanel and The Row respectively. The secret to staying out of trouble? Remember to muss up your hair. No one likes people who get ready for anything.

Sheer skirt
After several seasons of sheer dresses and lingerie-inspired details, the see-through skirt is stepping into the spring spotlight as a bold look to try both day and night. Altuzarra has given it a feminine twist, pairing sheer pencil skirts with soft crewneck sweaters and handbags with handles, a combination that has popped up at Carolina Herrera, Coperni, Givenchy and Carven. If this seems a bit frou-frou to you, double the sheer layers and pair them with a bomber jacket and heavy belt, as in the case of Louis Vuitton.

Sequins, lamé and metallic treatments never seem to leave the orbit of fashion trends, but they have gained new life for spring as the host city of Paris looks ahead to the 2024 Summer Olympics. A dose of supermodel elegance helped, too: at Ralph Lauren, Christy Turlington looked statuesque in a liquid gold gown, while at Versace, Claudia Schiffer gave the checkerboard knit crush a curvaceous ease.

Matthieu Blazy's deft tricks continued at Bottega Veneta, where we went from denim-fused leather to net dresses adorned with pom-poms and fringed dresses that looked like they were made of feathers (they were, you guessed it, leather). The handcrafted illusions continued at Diesel, where Glenn Martens turned expired denim and jersey into patent leather-effect party dresses and fused old movie posters into jackets. Elsewhere, crochet, embellishments, and laser-cut leather expanded the artisanal vibe.

Modern flapper
Embellished with crystal wheels, metal fringing and glittering eyelets, Prada's spring offering combined sculpted tailoring and shift dresses with jazz-age glamour. The show baptized a trend that Vogue editors call "the modern flapper," which spanned the season with golden bangs, glittering headdresses, and low-waisted dresses that we associate with 1920s baby vamps, now remixed for 2024 with leather jackets and blazers.

1990s redux
It is time for a 90s redux. As the world slides into another recession, bold colors and cheeky logos are on the way out (Phoebe Philo's October launch, with its ultra-subtle branding, is proof) and understated chic is back. That the trend coincides with the 25th anniversary of Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy's untimely death is no coincidence, as the New York Times recently pointed out. With the U.S. presidential election and a potential return of Trump on the horizon, cool minimalism seems the only appropriate sartorial response. Look for camel-colored pencil skirts, gray tailoring, white shirts, and boyfriend-style jeans from major players in the industry-Proenza Schouler, Max Mara, Bottega Veneta, and Gucci.
May 16, 2024