PARIS — What is the final assessment on the 321 collections shown over the last month in London, Milan, New York and Paris? There are, of course, strong trends — particularly in the powerful return of outerwear and a new focus on a more womanly and rounded figure.
But there is also a test that each designer has to pass.
Brand recognition  is the vital issue, especially now that collections go global and viral before buyers have even had a chance to get to the showroom and make a choice, and way before advertising campaigns or editorials can express the look of the season.
One definition of branding in fashion is how quickly a seasoned viewer is able to identify a look. This is nothing to do with logos or overt symbols. Ultimately, the power of a designer is to be able to register a vision and to project that for the consumer.
With nil advertising and an aversion to promoting himself or his clothes, Azzedine Alaïa has achieved such clarity that every single piece in his privately shown collection — princess-line leather coats, skating-skirt dresses, shapely knits and flirty ankle boots — definitely belong to the aesthetic of this designer.
Miuccia Prada gave her usual spiel after the MiuMiu show, that everyone should have “fun with fashion.” She might have said “sex” with fashion. Because the defining character of this Prada satellite brand is of nymphettes who, by the curving rise of a skirt at the back, a half-moon scoop of bared-flesh below the bosoms or a strategically placed bow at the rear of the thighs, are provocative beyond their years.
Typically this season, the focus was at the back, rather than on the womanly bosoms at Prada. Tossing their ponytails, these fillies came out in short, geometric 1960s dresses, perhaps in orange felt and with all sorts of childish embellishment, especially silvered rosettes. And it really was sex with everything. Even the shoes — the company’s heartland — had an over-layer like a tongue emerging from open lips.