One of the latest trends defining collections of fashion labels is armourcore. Think breastplates, chainmail fabrics, sharp shoulders and silver sequins—all inspired by the medieval times.
Balenciaga's recent autumn-winter 2023 couture show, for instance, was closed by a model wearing Jeanne d’Arc chrome-laminated bell-skirted suit of plated armour. At Paco Rabanne’s spring-summer 2023 showcase, Julien Dossena sent out models in combat boots, and babushka headscarves studded with metal grommets and bondage harnesses.
Back home, designers like Rudraksh Dwivedi and Alter-X have been showcasing fantastical, futuristic designs, for a while now.
"With the advancement in AI (artificial intelligence), we definitely see some obligation to have tech-integrated fashion. However, I feel like the resurgence of this trend has more to do with people wanting to shield their vulnerabilities from the world. For a lot of people, how they dress is a very tangible way to control how others perceive them. This style of dressing imposes a sense of empowerment and strength, a sort of figurative armour if you may," says Dwivedi.
It’s easy to go overboard with a trend like armourcore. "The best way to incorporate armourcore in your wardrobe would be to invest in OTT separates that can be dressed up or down as per occasion," he adds.
According to designer Nupur Kanoi, there are several reasons for the growing popularity of the trend. "Artificial intelligence and 3D printing have given designers the freedom to experiment with new materials and details that highlight the texture and strength of armour. The combination of technology and fashion has created a fusion, giving rise to a visual and tangible experience that resonates with the modern consumer.
“Also, global warming and its impact have prompted a reflection on historical periods of resilience. The symbolism of armour as protection aligns with security in uncertain times. This desire for strength and stability is elegantly translated into the fashion realm through the resurfacing of armourcore.”
To embrace the armourcore trend, one should infuse their personal style and narrative into the trend.
“Take inspiration from historical armour motifs while integrating modern silhouettes, fabrics, and embellishments. Armour-inspired pieces inherently possess a strong and bold aura. Balance this robustness with contrasting elements such as fluid fabrics or intricate jewelry,” says Kanoi. “Experiment with layering to replicate the layered nature of armour. Don't limit the trend to clothing, extend it to accessories like statement belts, cuffs and footwear. Look for minimalistic silhouettes that emphasize the strength of the armour elements.”
Designer Nitish Arora of label Alter-X, who's recently done a collection of chain-embellished evening jackets, suggests pairing a chainmail vest with a black jacket along with a pair of skinny black denims. "Finish off your look with slick back wet hair and a pair of black platform boots," says Arora.
Armour dressing has always carried an air of romance and chivalry, harking back to a time of knights in shining armor, believes designer Divya Agarwal. "Today, it allows us to reconnect with our history while embracing a vision of the future," she says.
Corset tops are your secret weapon for nailing the armour fashion trend in the modern day, Agarwal adds. "These tops blend the sensuality of corsetry with the power of armour, creating a fierce yet feminine look. Also, experiment with layering and draping to create a sense of movement and drama in your outfits. You can use capes, asymmetrical hemlines, layered skirts. These elements evoke the spirit of knights in battle while giving your look a theatrical edge," she explains.
Manish Mishra is a Delhi-based writer and content creator.