If the vaccination drives continue and people follow precautionary measures, it soon may be time to replace zoom dressing with reemergence dressing. After the Black Death of the 14th century, clothing became more flamboyant. After the 1918 Spanish Flu, Flapper Girls arrived. In today’s covid-19 world, a question many designers are trying to answer is: how will we be dressing in the post-pandemic era?
“People would want to show-off survival and that they are ready to venture a brave new world with positive authority,” says Nimish Shah, the creative director of Indian contemporary label Bhaane.
The re-emerge look is currently trending in fashion. We want clothes that are bold and beautiful, colour is back and prints are making a joyous return. It is a summer of reopening, even if travel restrictions are in place. Even if it is just going to your local market, or meeting close (and vaccinated) friends for a leisurely lunch at home, clothes now need to look towards a cheerful future.
American Italophile J.J. Martin started La Double J in 2015 on the premise of designing items that bring joy and that are all inspired by vintage prints and are all proudly Made in Italy. The fashion editor-turned-creator took a brave step during these unprecedented times, opening her first brick and mortar store in Milan in May. On the opening day, “Ready to resurrect” was splashed across her shop windows.
“Now is the moment to unpeel the dry and deadened layers of ourselves, to unshackle any chains tethered to fear, and to truly rise up and out of our previous state of consciousness. Resurrection is a rebirth,” says Martin. And what better way to do this than with mood lifting retro prints in vibrant hues on easy and forgiving silhouettes—you can be a maximalist yet be uncomplicated and effortless.
After months of cozy loungewear, we are not ready to even veer towards the “no pain, no gain” mantra of fashion. As Martin says, “Personally I’ve been wearing flat comfortable shoes for a very long time now and I can’t imagine going back to high heels on a permanent basis ever. That being said, no one wants to live in their sweatpants.”
A splash of colours
Fashion labels are also addressing this moment, with their choice of colours and silhouettes. London-based Han Chong is the founder of cult brand Self Portrait, a label known for its party dresses that have a sense of ease. “ I think dressing had already started to evolve significantly even before the pandemic. I’ve been thinking a lot about the modern wardrobe and had already noticed that people were starting to steer towards styles that have more fluidity and ease,” he says. “People want to feel uplifted, and I think that dressing is going to be a big part of making us feel more like ourselves again.”
His pre-fall 2021 collection had a feel of structure yet was fluid. Colour wise, there were some pretty and romantic powder pastels, some pieces in bright tangerine orange. You see colour again in his Fall 2021 collection, and the use of his signature ruffles and dainty details seemed more restrained than in his pre-pandemic collections. “I want our clothes to feel mood enhancing, to excite and uplift, day or night. I try to do this by exploring colours and prints,” says the designer.
As Martin explains, “A luscious, brightly coloured and printed dress will do wonders to lift your spirits. Colour has a very strong energetic frequency attached to it; so it’s only natural that we feel more expanded and cheerful when we wear it. The trick is to find dresses that are beautiful but also comfortable and easy to wear.”
It is only natural when you have been starved of reasons to dress up that you feel like going on a binge. But if the last year has taught us anything, it is the importance of caution— a notion reinforced with talks of a third wave. Even before the pandemic, “conscious” had become the fashion buzzword.
The period of lockdown has made us more aware of the need to be responsible in our fashion choices. Today, many designers and consumers are vowing to be more mindful of their sartorial choices. People want clothes that give them that instant good factor and ones that can be worn on repeat for years to come. Nine-to-nine dressing, seasonless, elevated essentials— these are things consumers want today.
Which is why when Martin was designing her collection she kept in mind that women were looking for pieces that would take you from “weekend to the office to cocktails and dinner…People just want ease, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to look beautiful too.” This time at home has made the customer reflect. They are clear on what they want and will not just blindly follow fashion diktats.
As Self Portrait’s Chong says, “I think it’s important to be mindful of the ever changing needs of the modern consumer.”
Dress Sense is a monthly column that takes a look at the clothes that we wear every day and what they mean to us.
Sujata Assomull is a journalist, author and a mindful fashion advocate.