Is this the end of trousers? Culture Trip examines the implications of the designers who are re-energising the dress and putting feminine silhouettes back on centre stage.
Dresses have never been lacking at London Fashion Week, they are a staple in most womenswear designers’ canon and rendered in various hues, shapes and tones. However a certain group of designers have put ‘The Dress’ at the locus of their aesthetic, building collections that shun neutral palettes or indistinct, androgynous silhouettes in favour of a romantic, invigorating depictions, making it the statement piece to wear this season.
Molly Goddard AW17
London-based designer Molly Goddard is an originator of this trend. Her voluminous tulle dresses have become a must-see attraction season on season, with London’s most influential figures queueing to take their place at her presentations. Having begun with smock silhouettes, Goddard has increased the scale of her work while keeping the sense of play and whimsy at the heart of her creations. The invitation at Molly’s shows is always to join her gang, and this year’s dinner party-themed show was no exception.
This season saw the designer presenting her most wearable collection yet, where signature sheer tulle dresses were interspersed between 70s brown patterned dresses and more fitted red dresses with a bright blue tulle trim. There were also trousers too – salmon pink silk and high waisted – as well as print t shirts and stripy knits. However it was her dresses that were her most captivating; there’s something faintly rebellious about a designer who continues to present such fantastical pieces. Goddard celebrates the transformative power of clothing and as the scale of her vision grows, so does the excitement surrounding her brand.
Bora Aksu AW17
Turkish-born Bora Aksu is also a designer who has harnessed the power of the dress, to great effect. At his AW17 show, the designer drew inspiration from the suffragettes, and in particular from Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, the goddaughter of Queen Victoria and a pioneer of the suffragette movement, along with Emmeline Pankhurst. While his SS17 focussed on neon pinks and oranges, for AW17 Bora Aksu drew on pastel shades – lace and silk tulles were rendered in lilacs, blues and powder pink shades. The result was romantic, but also evoked a bold and rebellious woman – a combination made all the more powerful when styled with black boater hats and Victorian boots. Embroidery played a pivotal role here, with messages sewn onto shirts, collars and cuffs, which added additional nuance to the collection.
As with Goddard, Aksu presented his vision through the notion of the power of the collective. At the end of the show, models walked in unison up and down the catwalk, evoking more contemporary images of the Women’s March as well as their suffragette predecessors.
Simone Rocha AW17
Simone Rocha’s shows are always beautiful and AW17 was no exception, not least because she celebrated diversity by using three older women to model the clothes. This season saw a departure from the über feminine pinks and reds that Rocha has previously used. Instead the designer investigated notions of femininity in darker hues: inky blacks, camouflage green and crocheted leather flowers. In this collection Rocha used designs to explore ideas of protection and armour, inviting a fresh appreciation of femininity through bonded velvet, chequered tweed and hand-plaited braid.
It is clear that the dress had moved beyond a decorative medium; this new wave of intelligent design harbours a more revolutionary and reactionary spirit. Against a background of oppression and angst, this proclamation of power and unity through the most traditionally feminine of forms is exactly the kind of message the fashion world should be sending. Pussy grabbers beware.