A Return to the Feminine
Lady-like meets bold in the garments of our time
Fashion is the most immediate indicator of the times we live in, and recent fashion weeks brilliantly embodied the styles of our era. “Are not courturiers the poets who, from year to year, from strophe to strophe, write the anthem of the feminine body?” asks Roland Barthes in The Language of Fashion, further confirming designers’ contribution to the spirit of a generation. Whether it’s Christian Dior’s “New Look” of the late ‘40s, Yves Saint Laurent’s smoking jacket of the ‘60s, or Donna Karan’s five easy pieces of the ‘80s, each decade has had its own sartorial maestro.
So what can be said of the women of the 21st century? A return to the feminine may have been a prevailing theme in the past few seasons, but runway looks also nodded to women of power, like Michelle Obama and Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi, who demonstrate that authority needn’t go hand in hand with masculine styling. The bold, gem-toned hues and streamlined shapes in collections by Lanvin, Jil Sander, and Miu Miu represent a modern sensibility paired with womanly silhouettes.
The exuberance found in last season’s collections, which are currently available for purchase, also persists in Raf Simons for Dior. Clean and sleek has always been Simons’ mantra, but now at Christian Dior, he blends his aesthetic with the time-tested charm of Grace Kelly. The same sentiments can be given to Simon’s old home at Jil Sander. With the designer reclaiming her eponymous brand, Sander’s collection was pristine and sharp. Outstanding presentations at Lanvin, Akris, and Carven also embraced feminine silhouettes without the excess of old-fashioned daintiness. All these designers have created poetry with colors and shapes and are speaking to the way a powerful woman wants to dress; not like a man, but like a woman.— Barry Samaha