Spring/Summer 2015 is going to be a good time for women. And a great time for female designers.
The man/woman dynamic has been part of fashion since the age of androgyny. So, maybe the new feminist attitude is a stand against the revival of the Seventies, rather than the glass-ceiling-breaking Eighties.
Women designers from Phoebe Philo at Céline through Clare Waight Keller at Chloé have established a new attitude to building an appropriate wardrobe.
You don’t have to dress like a man to take giant steps forward in a man’s world. And hey! Even the shoes of today are made for walking!
Two different designers, at Rykiel and at Sacai, made it happen for women on the go.
Sonia Rykiel: A palpable hit!
From the moment that the show opened with Georgia May Jagger with her Bardot pout, a fringed white tweed jacket à la Chanel and short shorts, I had a good feeling about the new Sonia Rykiel designer.
Julie de Libran then sent out a second Mick Jagger daughter, Lizzie, in a tweedy dress with eyelets at the waistline, and copious red hair in just the same shade as Sonia Rykiel herself. The founding designer stepped down in 2009 and since then the brand has been struggling to maintain the legacy.
But de Libran, formerly with Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton, hit the right note: pretty, witty and very French in that slouchy sailor look or shrug-on sweater. She also had the good sense to show in the Sonia Rykiel flagship store in her Left Bank homeland, rather than launching a full runway collection.
Once the basics were in place — the trousers with naval flat-buttoned fronts and the all-important sweaters — the designer could start having fun with layers of feather fringe on a skirt and woolly fringe on the knits.
The marine look of denim and sailor tops was just right for Rykiel, because although the brand had its heyday in the Seventies, in this collection the square-cut trousers were modern and the signature house stripes were given controlled exposure. Otherwise the clothes were bold, sporty and not at all the truncated schoolboy knits from the past.
Sonia and Julie have something in common: a sense of female freedom and energy. There were glimpses of skin at the midriff but they were often hinted at under big jackets or above track pants. These were no shrinking violets — even if there might be horizontal lines in a purply blue on a sparkling top.
I could have done with less of the slightly oversexed sheer and bondage dresses, but cuddling into a furry top — as the designer herself did to take her bow — struck a right note in a powerful debut collection.
SACAI: Back to front – and vice versa
I tried a game with my two smartphones at the Saci collection. Knowing that Japanese designer Chitose Abe has a penchant for making the front different from the back, I decided to see how this collectionwould read if I broke it into two halves.
The result was fascinating. The collection shot from the front was solemn and purposeful, with the models in military khaki or navy and pin stripe, lightened with guipure lace and later with patterns of bright flowers.
The backs told a different story. Basically the collection was divided into strictness and freedom: as the models negotiated a blue mountain path of a runway and then turned to go back.
A tailored khaki top and skirt would segue at the back into tiers of frills; or a front smothered in green fur would transition to green leather at the rear.
Chitose Abe has built this front/back look for several seasons, but this was different: less frilly and without the Japanese Kawaii cuteness; more a tough, womanly surface.
This was a Sacai collection that expressed vividly with its military jackets and sailor looks the dichotomy between women’s hard and soft sides — and yet it was also a wardrobe of youthful and appealing clothes.