There were no shortage of look-at-me neons, sequins and balaclavas vying for attention on the Fall 2018 runways. But the most exciting statements of the season came from houses ditching flash-in-the-pan fame for wear-it-forever longevity. Shortly after Stella McCartney announced her deal with designer resale website The RealReal to promote the long-term value of past collections, the British designer continued to raise the flag of sustainability with the lingerie-inspired dresses, luxe cable knit sweaters and impeccably tailored coats and blazers that hone in on what her house does best. The clothes may have been reminiscent of McCartney’s debut collections—and why shouldn’t they be? The British designer’s multigenerational front row served as visceral proof that her trademark practical chic has and will continue to earn a place in the closets of grandmothers and granddaughters alike.
So, too, if Valentino’s crisp-lined dresses, pants and jackets were inevitably layered for of-the-moment sensation, they can be just as easily broken down for separates with eternal relevance. The Row’s Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen carried on turning out the kind of magically monastic trappings of a stylishly regret-free life. Even Sarah Burton breathed an air of practicality into her couture-worthy productions at Alexander McQueen via pitch-perfect tuxedos that have become as much as necessity in a woman’s wardrobe as they are in a man’s.
Perhaps in homage to Phoebe Philo’s first absence from Céline, young designers in Paris are considering the life-changing magic of clothes that are easy to wear. Joseph Altuzarra’s 10-year-old brand reinforced its staying power (and recent investment deal with Kering) by sending beautifully cut wardrobe staples in wool pinstripes and silk florals down the runway—sure to outfit his powerhouse female friends for years to come. And for her sophomore collection for Chloé, Natacha Ramsay-Levi’s best looks reworked straightforward classics into thick-ply ribbed sweaters and seductively-cut shirt dresses that are as pragmatic as they are romantic.
Not a moment too soon. Just weeks after the season’s runways came to a close, news broke that fast fashion magnate H&M had accumulated a shocking $4.3 billion in unsold, new apparel. Women with a social conscious have been designers’ raison d’etre for a few seasons, but as of the Fall 2018 season, the most stylish women will waste not and want not.