Blame Alexa Chung. Not only is she queen of the somewhat infantalising Peter Pan collar, she’s been styling her jumpers with a shirt underneath, collar peeping out, for at least a year now. Then Victoria Beckham was photographed late last year exiting Claridge’s with a white starched collar worn atop a mushroom-hued tweedy bouclé dress. Before you could say “school uniform”, the collar was having a moment. You only have to glance at Karl Lagerfeld’s new Karl collection on Net-a-Porter for proof. He’s created two detachable black collars, one leather, another sequinned (pictured, £125, www.netaporter.com) to sit atop round collared tops and jumpers everywhere. He’s not the only designer enamoured with collars for spring/summer though.
At Miu Miu the collars were Peter Pan, embellished and often contrasting: a black collar on a blush pink jacket, a lacy collar on the “Cady” dress. At Louis Vuitton they were stiff, white and lacy, worn atop the Ladurée-hued jackets and dresses. Marni offered floral collars with plain green tops and dresses; Nicole Farhi a white collar against a yellow dress; black collars atop floral garments appeared at Dries Van Noten while Preen added a floral collar to a plain black dress.
“This has carried through from last fall,” says Sarah Rutson, fashion director of Lane Crawford. “We see the Peter Pan collar effect showing up on every type of shirt, and contrasting collars with mixes of fabrics from leather to lace to traditional cotton poplin.”
While collars may be a contemporary fad, they have a venerable history. Before 1950 the collars on most men’s shirts were detachable and could be sent to the laundry to be washed and starched separately from the shirt. “I have always tried to rework the collar,” says designer Peter Jensen, “probably because I come from a menswear background and love shirts. I think that ‘Peter Pan’ is a big thing but I think we are moving towards a more menswear/clean cut look generally for shirts and collars.” Jensen recommends that people should wear their collars up for a more modern look but, in her latest collection, designer Emma Cook has created slim white shirts in sheer chiffon with contrasting leather collars and cuffs, and “metal collar tips on the shirts”. “It toughened up the blouses,” she says. And the wearer doesn’t have to do a thing.