My favourite season is not summer. Nor is it fall, the only really palatable time of year at this end of the country. It’s pre-fall, a season that exists only in the minds of fashion designers and was invented by marketing departments to try and squeeze more money out of rich people who actually buy new clothes every season.
“Pre-Fall” as a fashion season has only been around for a few years — the pre-fall archive on Style.com goes back only to 2008, a year in which only about 30 of the biggest designers showed pre-fall lines. This year has three times as many designers presenting collections. A pre-fall collection is small, usually between 15 and 30 looks, and is sometimes described as an “appetizer” for the designer’s fall show, which is held in February or March.
As Vanessa Friedman points out in an article on Financial Times, “pre-fall” is a bit of a misnomer, since we all know that, at least in the northern hemisphere, summer comes before fall. She also writes that pre-fall collections are the domain of obsessive fashion types and celebrities who need something new to wear to the Oscars. But in terms of content and use, pre-fall might as well be called “Canadian Spring/Summer,” directed towards us sad-sacks in the land where the boundary between winter and summer is arbitrary, ill-defined and sometimes non-existent.
With the sandals and miniskirts of spring/summer collections about six months away from practical application — an application which itself lasts only a month and a half — “pre-fall” collections are often perfectly tailored towards a Canadian spring. The delightful — and, above all, seasonally reasonable — combinations that designers favour in pre-fall shows suit the alternatively and uncontrollably snowy/rainy/muddy/frigid conditions that plague Atlantic Canada between March and July. Boots and trench coats and short skirts! Sweaters and shorts! Fur and wool and leather and chiffon! It’s an eclectic’s paradise.
It’s clear that I bear a deep-seated resentment towards spring/summer collections. Sometimes I take on the challenge of adapting these ridiculously unseasonable outfits to the thermometer, sometimes I ignore them out of spite engendered by the weather and my bank account. Either way, pre-fall renders spring/summer collections irrelevant in my excitement for the fall shows, which are often much more interesting (mostly because I love layers and strong colours and I don’t live in a tropical country). Besides, most Canadians I know don’t have different clothes for summer — we just wear less of the same ones we wore in the winter.
And as a tonic for surviving three more months of winter, the pre-fall season can’t be beat. I know it seems as though it takes a leap of wild imagination to take inspiration from expertly hand-crafted pieces of expensive fabric draped onto statuesque teenage genetic anomalies and apply it to my own drearily familiar wardrobe and decidedly un-statuesque frame, but that’s what so fun about fashion. Getting a look at the freshest ideas from the greatest minds in fashion — Colours! Patterns! Silhouettes! Fabric combinations! — is always just what the doctor ordered to wake up my imagination from its winter boot-, coat- and mitten-enduced coma. So thank you, pre-fall. You’re the only season I can count on to show up just in time.
(Image shows looks from Rochas, Pre-Fall 2012 via Style.com)