Fashion used to operate on two seasons a year. Now trends are staying in fashion for years, not months. From now on, fads are out and personal style is in
• Read more from the spring/summer 2018 edition of The Fashion, our biannual fashion supplement
So there I was, perched on my gilt chair at the Paris haute couture shows one evening in January, waiting for the Givenchy show to start, fiddling with the satin ribbons that cinch the wrists of my favourite new Mother of Pearl sweater, idling the time away with a little light screen-shopping. I zoomed in on a new-season Ellery dress whose sleeves, curled and trailing like a lemon zest twist in a cocktail glass, caught my eye, but then I was distracted by the heavenly black Givenchy blouse being worn by the PRs, with frothy tulle sleeves that look like tremendously chic angel wings.
Sleeves are having a moment. But here’s the weird part: sleeves have been having a moment for five years. Towards the end of last year, we were at fashion week swooning over puff-sleeved gothic blouses on Stella McCartney‘s catwalk, while wearing Versace knits with POWER or UNITY emblazoned from elbow to wrist. “The Statement Sleeve – STILL!” proclaimed Vogue in its spring trend report, reporting on the poet sleeves and trumpet flares that abounded a year ago. And the year before that, sleeves made headlines both at London fashion week (virago sleeves at Erdem) and during the presidential campaign, when Melania Trump wore bell-sleeved Roksanda. And two years before that, the Alexis Colby statement sleeve was already being championed by Olivier Rousteing, at the height of Balmania.