Although you might assume emerging trends at the 2021 Melbourne Fashion Festival (MFF) would reflect the sombre mood of the past year – one that’s been particularly unkind to fashion and retail – it seems local labels have instead decided to look to the future.

Karinda Mutabazi, stylist and creative director at Style by Us and Them (which works on runway shows for David Jones, the Aria Awards and fashion events such as MFF) says the biggest trends to come out of this year’s event give us some hope that 2021 may be the year we move past the couch and out into the world again. “I think the trends reflect optimism,” she says.

“The time off has offered introspection, and a focus on simplicity and beauty through design. The silhouettes are relaxed, with draping and flowing fabrics a great way to ease everyone back in to dressing for the world and not just for the living room – or from the waist up for a zoom meeting.”

Here are the top four trends from this year’s Melbourne Fashion Festival.

Laid-back suiting
Suits are in, but post-pandemic it’s all about relaxed silhouettes and looser fits. For 2021, try tie-waist pants, wrap-style blazers and draped, flowing separates in block colours.

Scanlan Theodore delivered soft trenches in cornflower blue and classic beige, while White Story reinterpreted the traditional suit with plaid wide-leg pants paired with matching lightweight, floor-length coats (it also brought back ’90s-style silk shirting). Acler and Bassike opted for a slightly oversized, double-breasted aesthetic.

Head-to-toe earth tones
Block-colour dressing continues through to 2021, mostly in tonal earth colours such as caramel, blush and toffee. Regardless of your chosen colour palette, the key is to keep it clean with minimal accessories and zero print for a clean, unfussy vibe.

Arnsdorf and Scanlan Theodore delivered head-to-toe tonal looks in coffee, cream and natural. But this trend wasn’t just about muted colours; Jason Grech delivered drama with a breathtaking acid-pink ensemble, pairing impossibly tight, metallic fuchsia cigarette pants with a sheer, voluminous pussy bow shirt.

Utility dressing
Perhaps the one riff on 2020’s WFH aesthetic was a strong nod to utility. Acler combined elements of utility dressing with the aforementioned suiting trend in a series of looks that saw oversized pockets and buckled detailing pair with pseudo suit jackets and trench-style collars. Lee Mathews delivered an interpretation of the safari suit, while Manning Cartell turned the bomber on its head, presenting it in silky peach with a tie-front, easy-going legging.

Old-world accessories
The Bridgerton effect is in full force this season, as accessories trend toward old-world glamour with a modern twist. Long, mostly leather gloves were one of the key takeaways from the runway this year, and featured heavily in Oroton’s ready-to-wear collection.

Mutabazi says she saw a lot of ’60s-inspired headscarves, neckerchiefs and Peter Pan-ish lace collars à la Mad Men. “The leather neckerchief caught my eye,” she says. “There were a few variations, and in each instance it looked excellent.”

Check out more styles from this year’s festival. Broadsheet was at the opening-night Gala Runway to capture it all.