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Fashion is teaching us to be resilient, brave and fearless

The recently concluded Paris fashion week was all about statement-making, fetishised dressing  

Models present creations for the Hermes Fall-Winter 2022-2023 collection fashion show during the Paris Womenswear Fashion Week, in Paris, on 5 March. (AFP)

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Trust Maria Grazia Chiuri to pen PhD level notes on the new-age, techno femininity. At Dior's Winter 22 showcase during the Paris Fashion Week, in a stroke of genius, she located a meeting point between the archival new look silhouettes and tech-fuelled utility. Enters the post-pandemic Bar jacket recontextualised with a combative spin, a bridge between the past and the future. 

Maria Grazia Chiuri's latest creations for Dior.
Maria Grazia Chiuri's latest creations for Dior. (REUTERS)

Balmain, too, proposed protectionism by presenting an array of ornate body armours inspired by the bandaging and recovery gear. Call it techno femininity or sportified sensuality, we’re looking at a fall winter closet full of clothes that reflect a strong woman.

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Stylist Ami Patel observes that the presence of protective gear shows brands’ way to exemplify power and adaptability. “It also means the world is constantly in a flux, so it signifies that fashion can help you adapt to any environment. Moreover, leather and faux leather are major recurring elements. Their combination brings out the attributes of courage and vulnerability together. Having said that, vulnerability is strength as well. So that toughness and being able to show your soft side is equally important,” says Patel.

From Balmain's recent show in Paris.
From Balmain's recent show in Paris. (AFP)

Given the way the world has battled covid and the current Ukraine-Russia situation, it was hard to overlook the socio-political commentary some designers made with the power of their metier. There was also a push towards statement-making, fetishised dressing, with buckled leather strappy harnesses, body-con shapes, over-the-knee boots and generous use of vinyl seen across the board. Multi-strapped buckled-up tailoring was seen at Rokh, and Koche layered a sportified suit over a mesh and leather harness top.

Stylist Isha Bhansali notes that it's more of a fetishy undercurrent this season with a hint of military. “It's always a strong statement with the harness addition, especially the way it cuts the torso seductively. Harnesses have even made their presence felt even in a casual, everyday dressing,” says Bhansali.

The Hermès show was marked by an interplay of transparency and opacity with knitted bodycon onesies and flared skirts realised with interlinked lace and leather panels.

Courrèges also adopted a figure-hugging, statement-making approach by sending out vinyl minis, jackets and space-age sunnies.

“PVC has emerged as a post-pandemic essential. I'd dress an actor in an evening PVC look,” insists Ami.

PVC is a staple like sequin. “With the best versions of Spiderman and Batman franchises hitting theatres, in some way they inspire us to don a PVC bodysuit. Faux leather joggers, shirt dresses are everywhere. Post pandemic, there's no holding back and being subdued but going all out there and making a statement,” quips Bhansali.

The Miu Miu micro mini which has been breaking the internet made a comeback in an itsy-bitsy tennis variation with a decidedly low-waist, Y2K touch—flashing knickers and midriff generously. Guess, it’s fashion’s reaction to the demand for eye-catching clothing favoured by a legion of tick tockers and insta stars.

Designer Neeta Lulla observes that fashion has always reflected the times we are in. “It was elaborate and avant-garde when people needed to dream, it was street style when we itched for a touch of our everyday lives. Fashion is now reflecting what we are and must be. Resilient, brave, functional and fearless,” she says.

From Louis Vuitton Fall-Winter 2022-2023 collection fashion show.
From Louis Vuitton Fall-Winter 2022-2023 collection fashion show. (AFP)

Dior x D-Air Lab (a leader in technology and innovation) collab was easily the highlight of the season where the emblematic bar jacket was reimagined into a new-age climate-sensitive piece, which remains cool when the wearer feels hot, and vice versa. Thus utility, comfort and protection resonate together to set the post covid fashion mood.

Designer Pankaj Ahuja of label Pankaj & Nidhi sees a resurgence of more collaborations and a cross cultivation of cultural symbolism- perhaps fuelled in the wake of a post-pandemic existence. “Maybe this iconoclasm is good for our planet, one where we acknowledge the need to co-exist, cocreate and break barriers,” he says.

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