Jan 17, 2019 | By Alice Gividen
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In the wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, fashion has come to the forefront as a key instrument of expression and solidarity.
From the black carpet at both the Golden Globes and the BAFTA’s, to the Net-a-Porter-commissioned T-shirts in aid of Women For Women International – fashion continues to be used as a means of creating conversations, inclusion, and to signal and engineer positive change.
As catwalk season commenced, all eyes turned to the runways across the major fashion capitals, expecting to see evidence of these movements and the socio-political climate threaded, quite literally, into the very fabric of AW18. It was something WGSN predicted ourselves in our Catwalk Predictions report.
This International Women’s Day, we reflect on a catwalk season that not only celebrated the strength and resilience of women, but also the strength in femininity itself.
Across the season, the shapes, cuts and silhouettes seemed to turn away from more androgynous shapes and move towards a focus on the female form.
For WGSN Catwalks Director, Lizzy Bowring, nothing captured the strength in femininity quite like Sarah Burton at the McQueen AW18 show.
‘There appears to be a quiet confidence emerging throughout the final shows of fashion month, seen in the representation of both fragility and beauty of womanhood,” says Bowring. It was Burton’s butterfly theme, and a focus on metamorphosis, that felt particularly resonant. A tailored black tuxedo unfurled at the back to reveal a vibrant display of red, just as a butterfly unfurling it’s wings – a poignant analogy in a #TimesUp-era of fashion.
Elsewhere, more overt expressions of femininity were captured. Tom Ford’s ‘pussy power’ bag featured in a collection that opened New York Fashion Week with a powerful, feminine energy. As the pink pussy hat has become a symbol among demonstrators against the Trump administration, Ford’s collection took on an entire ‘cat woman’ theme. Skin-tight animal print dresses and trousers were unapologetic in their focus on the female form, and over-sized pieces were cinched in and belted for business.
Fashion month saw plenty of nods to decades past, placing emphasis on and seeking influence from the defining social movements of the 20th Century.
None were perhaps more obvious than Maria Grazia Chiuri’s emboldened feminist vision at Dior, from the clothes themselves to the collage of fashion magazine covers from 1968 serving as the backdrop.
This Paris Fashion Week, the late 1960’s acted as the cornerstone Chiuri’s ‘youthquake’ of a collection. A term used by Diana Vreeland in 1965, it captured the zeitgeist of the decade – a time where “fashion proved to be a catalyst” for female independence and empowerment, says Chiuri.
With AW18, Chiuri is reinforcing the sway and influence of the young generation, and with this collection meeting the needs of an empowered generation of young women, using feminine cuts and bold typography.
In London Teatum Jones addressed “global womanhood”, inspired by a diverse collective of 25 women, from editor Sophia Neophitou to activist Caryn Franklin. Asked about their most instinctive, human emotions, their answers were filmed and presented at the AW18 catwalk show, ensuring that the collection felt part of a wider conversation around femininity and the essence of womanhood.
London also showcased Sharon Wauchob and her take on the feminine form. In an interview with WGSN, she discussed moving her collection to the menswear calendar in June – a gesture that presents a defiant strength in her collection of soft silks and traditionally feminine pieces.
For many seasons, a focus on androgynous tailoring has presented women as being ‘one of the boys’. The AW18 fashion month has revealed, however, a strength in a more traditional femininity – the power of women in their own right, and it could not be more timely.
Fashion month may be over, but our Catwalks Director Lizzy Bowring will now begin her tour of Europe, delivering our content directly to our clients. Want to be there? Head to our events page for more details.
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