As with politics, gender and ordering a bunch of flowers (thanks, Flowerbx), in 2017 body-con means something entirely different to before.
Back in the day, form-flaunting garms equalled sex: Yasmin Le Bon and Gail Elliott smoking backstage in skintight Lycra minidresses dreamed up by Azzedine Alaïa; Elizabeth Hurley on the red carpet in the Nineties, Gisele in her skinny jeans and Brazilian micro-bikini, and the Kardashians’ bumsters and side boob.
More recently it has come to be associated with female empowerment - think of Beyoncé’s hyper-feminised onstage persona or Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow character in The Avengers. Powerful, but still undeniably va-va-voom.
Today, body-conscious clothing has become a little more complicated and interesting. In fact, the general trend is towards being covered up. From Gucci’s walking bric-a-brac aesthetic to Valentino’s virginal necklines and hemlines to the current craze for oversize hoodies – fashion seems to be experiencing some kind of aversion to skin-baring.
But that’s not to say that the female form isn’t finding some kind of way to express itself beneath all those layers. (We’d like to show how all that clean eating is paying off, thank you very much.) It’s just that now we want to be a bit more subtle about it.
Think about Proenza Schouler’s geometric, modernist-inspired form-fitting knits; look at Julien Dossena’s body-caressing chainmail dresses for Paco Rabanne and Balenciaga’s unnaturally coloured disco leggings. Check out the autumn collection by of-the-moment label Koché, with clever body-hugging ruching in retina-burning neons. All of these brands are finding ways to showcase the female form in a way that feels modern and interesting without resorting to tired clichés.
The common thread is sensuality rather than overt sexiness, ease over discomfort, and also a focus on interesting details. In this look, modelled by Lexi Boling, fashion editor Kate Phelan has layered a ribbed dress over leggings by Colombian designer Esteban Cortazar, both of which stray from the norm with asymmetry and ruffle hems. The pinstripe oversize shirt, by Maison Margiela, comes emblazoned with daring sloganeering which exudes deconstructed coolness.
The message, loud and clear, is that using clothes to showcase your body never went away – it just had a little 2017 upgrade.
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