This time last year, ever celebrity worth their salt - from high fashion Victoria Beckham to high drama Lady Gaga - made an appearance draped in velvet. The material's old-fashioned connotations of demure party dresses and Sunday Best lady-likeness spoke to a #MeToo era of modesty. A fashion community freshly outraged that Celine - the bastion of women dressing for women - had just been reborn by Hedi Slimane, shape-shifting the much-loved feminist label into a sexy army of slinky trouser suits and LBDs. By contrast, velvet was feminist armour; chic and strong.
But a year is a long time in the world of fashion and a lot can happen. After viewing Slimane’s second collection, “New Celine is” - in fact - “Old Celine”, according to Vogue. So the world has moved on (even though we could still spot lingering traces of velvet on the Tom Ford and Balenciaga autumn/winter 19 catwalks).
Yet for spring/summer, it’s time for a gear change. Replace the demure of velvet with the hippy vibes of tie dye and California dreaming as seen at Calvin Klein, R13, Prabal Gurung and Etro. If 90s revivalism isn’t quite your thing, how about the disco glow of Studio 54 (more 70s appeal to be found in the return of crochet) or perhaps the electric shock of the 80s more is more your approach; think metallics, pleather, lame, bleached white denim. Head to Ralph and Russo for Dynasty-worthy dresses.
If you’re not scared of making a statement, try a pussy bow, seen on the catwalks but also on Natasha Lyonne, star of Netflix's Russian Doll, co-written by Amy Poehler. Lyonne, plays Nadia, who, like her character, loves a pussy bow. Aside from her sartorial choices, her chain smoking, swearing, straight talking New York attitude is a 2019 style we should also get behind. Well, maybe not the smoking. Another way to pack the punches; a bold coloured trouser suit (far more exciting for a summer wedding than a knock-off Ganni number) or, for the truly courageous, print on print on print. In this kaleidoscopes of colours, time references, fabrics and print, there is a singular message: ditch demure, we’re free to be who we want to be. In a moment of female empowerment, are we allowed to be proud of who we are and let the world know we’re here.
Which may go some way to explaining why we’ll be wearing boiler suits and cycling shorts this summer, also. Yes, Kanye and Kim might have something to do with the latter, but shorts will replace flimsy summer dresses this season. Even when venturing into the office, dare to pair with heels and a blazer. And until the weather warms up, invest in a boiler suit (another nod to the 1980s). Ultimately practical and comfortable, this is another example of fashion taking an empowering term. Women are busy deconstructing the patriarchy and they need something practical to do it in.
But there is a strange anomaly - and that’s the colour beige. Seen *everywhere* from Burberry to Max Mara and Balmain, expect to see this colour across the high street this summer. A respite from the high-octane levels, maybe, and a reminder that power comes in all shades.
Main image credit: Melodie Jeng via Getty Images