I learned to appreciate designer goods, the art and people behind the fashion industry when I worked in the magazine industry. Working along side with some of the most knowledgeable and creative people is where I gained insight beyond the labels and really set my love for design. Ever since then, I’ve looked at the fashion industry in a different light. I’m interested in learning the story from the creative minds of the designers to how what we see on the runways make it to the retailer floor. So, when the invitation to attend the “In Conversation with Roopal Patel” event at Saks Fifth Avenue (Queen Street, Toronto), I didn’t hesitate.

Bernadette Morra, Roopal Patel and Amy Patel

Roopal Patel is the fashion director for Saks Fifth Avenue  and someone who is truly inspiring with her confidence and style. She, along with Amy Patel (stylist) and moderator Bernadette Morra (Editor-in-Chief, Fashion Magazine), spoke about what’s “on trend” for this fall, what we should be expecting on the Red Carpet at TIFF, as well as sharing their personal views on fashion.Luxury in fashion has changed over the past few years. “Back in the day, luxury was only reserved for a select few especially when it came to fashion,” says Roopal.  “Now luxury is available to everyone and is accessible. Here at Saks we are very focused on the new luxury. The ideas is that you will find luxury whether it’s that trend of the season coming in, that shade of lipstick, or in a beautiful dress or jacket or even in a sneaker. It’s about the idea that fashion is available and accessible to all as it should be. ”

Shopping has also changed over the past few years with online so how has that shaped the fashion retail scene? Roopal tells us that fashion has challenged the retail landscape and at Saks they are constantly looking for ways to enhance the in-store experience, particularly at the flagship stores. In New York, they brought in the L’Avenue Paris experience into the store with art installations and beauty floor with treatment rooms. “The whole ideas is that you can come down, have lunch, shop a little, get a massage or facial. If you need to get to a Broadway show, you can get your make up done and jet out. It’s meant to be fun.”

So, what about fashion trends? Amy tells us she dresses for her mood but will generally go with a certain overall look, like a classic silhouette when considering the trends of the season. “Repurposing outfits makes you creative,” says Amy. She goes on to explain that it doesn’t mean you have to buy all the trends but take a look at what works with what you have and what you would wear confidently. “It doesn’t have to be something a magazine told you to wear,” says Amy.

Roopal adds at the end of the day it’s all about how fashion translates. “I don’t wear fashion for Instagram. I wear fashion because I’m in this business. I notice when it’s natural and authentic people will react. When it feels posed it doesn’t translate. I buy what I love. I want to wear this Bottega jacket for the next five years. It’s not just for one photograph.”

She tells us that fashion is about stepping outside your comfort zone and trying something different. You may surprise yourself.

Here’s a quick overview of what was shared…

What’s on-trend for this fall?

New Neutrals: Where black has been a favourite staple for many years, Roopal looks to what she calls the “new neutrals” think warmer colours in shades of camel, tan, and beige. It’s a colour that translates into many existing closets. That goes for men as well.

Leather: Go beyond the expected leather jacket and look for skirts, pants, tops and dresses. It’s that one piece that looks good, yet effortless. It’s the one thing that everyone stops and goes “wow”!

Trench Coat: It’s a polished look for the transitioning seasons. Look for leather or even faux leather and even switch up the belt for something different.

Pants: We are moving into pant season and trousers can be worked in at the office and night out. But also look for paperbag waists and more leather.

Gold:  was previously considered a night time look but it’s now translating into daytime and works well with the “new neutrals”. It’s warm.

Evening wear: expect to see a lot of drama when it comes to clothes for night outs from dinner parties to event season and galas. Go for sparkles and exciting details that show some personality.

Boots: Fall is the perfect time to make a shift to boots and this trend is strong. From short combat boots to tall boots and with everything. Check out Celine and the high shaft boot in colours like burgundy, cognac and hunter green.

What’s the one piece they would add to their closet this fall?

Roopal tells us her one piece would be a camel colour handbag or something leather. Investment is really important to her. “You can never go wrong with the longevity of a good handbag. A gorgeous camel, burgundy or cognac leather handbag is timeless. I know that I can work in the new neutral trend and I can wear it with a suit or with jeans on the weekend. It will have a great staying power and can transition into spring and then bring it back next fall.” Leather is the other piece to consider adding this fall season because it’s not something you see everyday. She bought a Givenchy skirt last fall and continues to wear it even through the summer.

Amy tells us her “one piece” would be a good trench coat. A Burberry trench coat in the neutral trend that she spotted recently had cinching on the bottom, a  detail that feels new and modern, yet she knows it will still look good 10 years from now. She also knows she can travel with and it looks good with everything.

What’s going on with daywear? Are we stuck in this leisure-wear mode and sneakers?

There’s a place for the casual daywear but take a look at how it’s all put together as an outfit. Switch out for trousers for a change. Paired with even a good t-shirt and jacket is a great look this season. As for our absolute love for sneakers? Look for fabulous detailing on them if you like this look. But there is a shift moving away from the everyday sneaker.

What about for TIFF? 

For those of us who go from the office to a screening, how do we transition from our work outfit? Amy, who formerly worked in the corporate world, tells us the quickest way is to change up your shoes and accessories. And what about the red carpet? It’s all about “expect the unexpected.”