HTSI editor Jo Ellison
HTSI editor Jo Ellison © Marili Andre

It’s been a while since I considered skirt suits, 10-denier hosiery or court shoes, but this season it seems they’re coming around again. For that we can thank Anthony Vaccarello, Saint Laurent’s creative director, whose AW23 show exhumed the power dresser and put her at the fore. Actually, the glamorous aesthetic was a feature of many autumn/winter shows – waists were cinched, shoulders broadened and there were lots of blazers. I gave up noting the number of times I wrote “mannish overcoat” and “grey”.

The looks were business-formal, but they weren’t an expression of some new conservatism abroad. I was reminded of women such as Inès de la Fressange, Kim Basinger, Sade and other ’80s muses who exuded confidence and a smoky, seductive charm. In this autumn style issue, Jessica Beresford examines the return of power dressing against the context of today. While the nod to the ’80s has been unmistakable, the effect now is less The Bitch, as played by Joan Collins, while the sexiness is more restrained.

HTSI issue cover of Burberry coat
© Louise & Maria Thornfeldt 

Another trend: this season is all about the feels. Our main shoot draws on the feathers, quilting and swaddling fabrics that lend every item a tactile edge. It’s a mood established on our cover (pictured above), on which the model Victoria Fawole wears a feather coat by Burberry. Daniel Lee’s debut for the brand eschewed the trench coat and garments one might associate with the British luxury house to offer a collection that fused a range of elements, including duck prints, plaid and punk. It also set the mood for cosy fashion, in spirit if not in style – each seat at the show was accompanied by a hot-water bottle wrapped in a fleece-y tartan coat.

As a conscientious consumer looking for leather alternatives for shoes and bags, FT fashion editor Lauren Indvik has assessed the options for us and evaluated the progress made so far. In addition to the ethical considerations about how animals are treated, the environmental costs of leather are concerning: the methane produced by cows is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and the tanning process releases toxic chemicals that can pollute waterways. Are the current alternatives any better, or more attainable to those without huge means? Lauren’s report provides hope for the ethical shopper, as well as some covetable vegan accessories.

Mansur Gavriel vegan Apple bag, $495
Mansur Gavriel vegan Apple bag, $495
Julie de Libran (left) with her friend and muse Sonia Sieff, photographed in Paris
Julie de Libran (left) with her friend and muse Sonia Sieff, photographed in Paris © Charlotte Robin

Julie de Libran, a former designer at Prada, Louis Vuitton and Sonia Rykiel, and now creator of her own namesake label, will always be in style. A veteran of the industry (she knows all its secrets), Julie is one of the kindest, chicest people in the fashion world. For this issue, we asked her to name her muses. From her sister Fanélie Phillips, the company’s CEO, to the novelist Amanda Sthers, her assembly embodies the same sensual, insouciant charisma intrinsic to her brand.

Fashion editor Alexia Niedzielski on Praia do Diabo, Rio de Janeiro
Fashion editor Alexia Niedzielski on Praia do Diabo, Rio de Janeiro © Tinko Czetwertynski

And that’s not the end of my favourite things in this issue: we’ve also got model Erin Wasson’s Marseille café, Amanda Harlech’s Welsh Jacobean hideout, spa life in Budapest’s muddy and magical waters, and Alison Loehnis’ book of style. But nothing is quite so magnificent in this HTSI as the sight of fashion editor and consultant Alexia Niedzielski resplendent in a technicolour sunset while emerging like a mermaid – and eight months pregnant – from the Rio de Janeiro seas. 


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