There’s a historical edge to many of the looks seen on the catwalks but it’s more great literary heroines, pop culture versions of fantasy figures or wild distortions of history than a faithful recreation of past style.
So while the empire line is having a moment, don’t think Empress Josephine, think Elizabeth Bennet, Miss Havisham, Mary Shelley actually meeting Frankenstein, or even the young Queen Victoria as imagined by Jenna Coleman (now there’s a wild distortion of history if ever I’ve seen one).
So we get the maxi lengths, the frills, ruffles, heavy lace, florals, puff sleeves, lace edging, broderie anglaise, demure yokes, raised (or at least shifted) waistlines and full, longer sleeves; everything we imagine women wore way back when.
Take it a step further into Helena-Bonham-Carter-as-Miss-Havisham territory and the look is more than a little unkempt than pretty with frills becoming more ragged, but in many ways that’s what makes it feel modern.
Of course, the question is whether such a trend has legs – after all, it’s not exactly an offer that has something for everyone, at least on the surface. But don’t just take it at face value. For a start, it’s big news for occasionwear, a huge bridal influence and intimates/sleepwear companies should be all over it.
But all of the materials and details listed above can be applied to pieces that are more wearable while other details, like Burberry’s ruff collars and military frogging, do have their place, even if they fell a little too costume party in their straight-off-the-runway incarnations.
So imagine all these dresses pared back a little, shortened to more wearable lengths and you have a commercial option for Christmas party time as well as summer outdoor events. Shorten them further and hey presto, there’s a statement blouse that works as well with slashed and generally distressed denim (both favourite skinnies as well as the newer wide cuts) or tailored pants.