22 Big Ideas for a Fashionable Fall

Prada. Photo: Landon Nordeman
In our biannual survey of the runway, we put the season’s biggest trends — Victorian Velvet, Gothic Creepers, Power Suits — on the women most likely to wear them.
Backstage at Prada. Photograph by Landon Nordeman

Fashion has quite a bit in common with fairy tales: Strangely compelling ideas, lives distilled to extremes, and a desire to leave the banalities of this world for something more fantastic. And this season’s clothes are great for dressing up as a character in one's own story — whether the plot is Victorian, Gothic, or simply “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” there's a little something for everyone. Scroll ahead to see the fall's biggest ideas, including rich velvets, power suits, and a return to the ’80s, shot on the stylish women who wear them in real life.

Granny Glamour

“This is a quintessentially British-eccentric look. I am from London, so this is something I really connect with. I’d rather feel odd than sexy any day.” — Tali Lennox 22, Painter

Coat, blouse, and skirt: Gucci; Photograph by Bobby Doherty

The Magpies

Layered thick.

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Big Fur Collars

Full up top, nipped at the waist.

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Photographs: Sean Dempsey-WPA Pool/Getty Images (bonham carter); touchstone pictures/photofest (margot tenenbaum); patrick mcmullan (westwood); imaxtree (runway)

Power Dressing

“Women in suits are intimidating for some people. I don’t know if it’s because they’re traditionally a masculine thing, or if it’s because they’re not ‘sexy.’ I would take Claire Underwood’s wardrobe in a second.” — Josie Duffy 28, Racial-Justice Lawyer and Writer

Suit: Dior, Shoes: Gianvito Rossi; Photograph by Bobby Doherty


It’s election season.

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Perfect for an inauguration.

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Photographs: RDA/getty images (onassis); patrick mcmullan (clinton); courtesy of netflix Getty Images (house of cards); imaxtree (runway)

The Virtuous Victorian

“There is something very creepy about the Victorian era. I’m definitely interested in darkness. I went to a psychic who said that I channeled my creativity from a cryptic place.” — Elizabeth Ammerman 25, Designer and Shop Clerk

Dress: Valentino, Vintage earrings: Doyle & Doyle; Photograph by Bobby Doherty

Lacy and (Mostly) Modest

Ever-so-slightly repressed.

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Velvet Dresses

The Victorian go-to.

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Photographs: Mary Evans Picture Library/Alamy (ophelia); Alamy (victoria); imaxtree (runway)

The ‘80s Icon

“I really relate to Dale Bozzio from the band Missing Persons. This is like something she would wear. It’s super–New Wave and post-punk, which I’ve always been drawn to.” — Samantha Urbani 27, Musician

Jacket: Loewe, Skirt: Missoni; Photograph by Bobby Doherty

Rainbow Leather(Ette)

Tight, shiny, and inauthentic.

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Desperately Seeking Big Earrings

To wear on just one ear.

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Photographs: alamy (madonna); Fin Costello/Redferns/getty images (flock of seagulls); Keith Hamshere/Getty Images (Grace JOnes); imaxtree (runway)

“Oh My Goth!”

“My favorite color used to be gray. I’ve been influenced by Harajuku style in Tokyo since I was 18.” — Asumi Higashimura 28, Student

Top: Alexander Wang; Photograph by Bobby Doherty

The Black-Widow Brigade

Paging Tim Burton.

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For stomping, and feeling.

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Photographs: Trinity Mirror/Mirrorpix/Alamy (siouxie); Zade Rosenthal/20th century fox/photofest (edward scissorhands); paramount pictures/photofest (wednesday addams); imaxtree (runway)
Portraits: styling by rebecca ramsey; Hair by Edward Tricomi for Warren-Tricomi Salon; makeup by Frances Hathaway for M.A.C at Jump

The New Retro



Easter colors on autumn clothes.

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And old-fashioned way to fasten.

What, exactly, is a brooch? (Formal name: fibula.) It traces back to the Bronze Age, when it was used to fasten cloaks and capes. Cast aside for buttons in the Middle Ages, it regained popularity in the 18th century as a means of decoration as well as mourning (Victorians often encased hair within brooches for keepsakes).


Heavy Jewels

For ears, noses, lips, even faces.


Mary Janes

The grown-up version.


Opulent Fabric

Jacquard, damask, brocade.

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Fashion and interior design have always cross-pollinated: This season, Stella McCartney’s paisley brocades are a dead ringer for Calico Wallpaper’s Aurora prints, and Clarence House’s Orsini Paisley fabric was evoked for the Lanvin show. Marc Jacobs’s set was based on Diana Vreeland’s “garden in hell” red living room designed by Billy Baldwin. – Wendy Goodman


Glamorous Gloves

For a night at the opera.


Structured Bags

With handles, not straps.

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Photographs: Tim Graham/Getty Images (diana); Keystone-France/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images (kelly); Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images (middleton); universal studios/photofest (blanchett); Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images (elizabeth); warner bros./photofest (hepburn); imaxtree (remaining)

Sci-fi Siren



Bring on the polar vortex.

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The brutality of last winter introduced polar vortex into the common lexicon. But the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a “strong El Niño event” through early spring 2016, meaning there’s a good chance of a milder winter this year for the Northeast. The irony? Coats are bigger, bulkier, and more quilted than ever.


Super-Natural Shine

Notice-me dazzle.

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Black, White, and Graphic

Zebras, checkers, and an Escher-esque grid.

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Great Big Grommets


Hemlines Move Up

The return of the miniskirt.

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Photographs: columbia pictures/photofest (weaver); warner bros./photofest (blade runner); photofest (matrix); ITV/ABC/Photofest (peel); Columbia pictures/sony pictures entertainment/photofest (fifth element); paramount pictures/photofest (barbarella); imaxtree (remaining)

*This article appears in the August 10, 2015 issue of New York Magazine.