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Leave the salopettes in Sochi – spring’s most active trend takes sporty shapes and themes and gives them a high-fashion update. Whether you’re a medal-winner or a gym-dodger, clean lines and luxurious fabrics suggest dynamism and edge. As Mother of Pearl designer (and keen surfer) Maia Norman says: “A sporty feeling brings an ease of wear into the modern woman’s look; a vitality and energy.” Consider it a workout for your wardrobe.
From boxing belts at Pucci to basketball vest dresses at Tommy Hilfiger via school-gym/football socks at Prada, it’s hard to think of a sport that didn’t get represented on the spring/summer catwalks.
Both Gucci and Pucci took a sexy, slightly disco approach. For his Pucci collection, with its micro running shorts, Peter Dundas says: “I used shapes, fabrics, accessories and colours taken from sports. A parka worked great for night in silver parachute silk and so did scuba neoprene, which sculpts well, or technical jerseys, which made for great draping.” The designer had fun “playing” with sporty elements. “A hoodie became a mini dress, motocross trousers were rolled up and slouchy, the boxing shoe was a high-heeled peep toe. It made basics feel fresh, easy and more modern,” he says.
Gucci’s collection was similarly suited to gym-honed bodies. It featured see-through black mesh T-shirts and tracksuits in sheer black pleated silk and liquid lamé.
At Balenciaga, too, Alexander Wang had the toned thigh and midriff in mind, with his sculpted cropped tops and gym shorts. Meanwhile, in his eponymous line, the designer teamed wet-look wind-cheaters with miniskirts and plimsoll-like shoes.
DKNY showcased anoraks in translucent plastic and neoprene, clingy dresses with racer back-straps on the front and sporty block-coloured panelling on jackets and dresses; Sacai offered tailored Aertex trousers with drawstring waists; Marc by Marc Jacobs and Jonathan Saunders both presented silk baseball jackets; and Marni, Lacoste and Prada all featured striped trims that evoked a school sports day. (Although most junior athletes wouldn’t team their ribbed socks with jewelled coats à la Prada.)
No medals for identifying the 2012 London Olympics as a major inspiration behind sports luxe, and, post-Sochi, the smart money is on seeing leather or lamé salopettes on the catwalk sometime soon.
This is not a case of designers simply imposing a sporty aesthetic on an unwilling public – rather that consumer interest in comfortable, wearable clothes has grown. (Not to mention fitnesswear in general, with such workout havens as SoulCycle becoming luxury brands in themselves.) London designer Louise Goldin, whose collection of little white wraparound skirts and aerodynamic mini-dresses was inspired by “sports cars such as the Bugatti”, says that the popularity of sports luxe is down to “lifestyle today. With the stress and pace of life, people want to look stylish and comfortable. Adding a sports element creates comfort.” The elasticated waist-as-fashion statement: what’s not to like?
Should you invest?
Absolutely. Natalie Kingham, head of fashion at Matchesfashion.com, says: “The sports luxe look is a trend that has longevity. Every season it seems to improve, and what we’ve noticed now is that having a good pair of trainers and more relaxed pieces in your wardrobe is more and more relevant.”
Easy sporty updates include bomber jackets (try Phillip Lim’s version, embellished with flowers, £1,160, or Mother of Pearl’s pink-and-burgundy silk style, £1,595), silk joggers (Fendi has a lovely white pair with a python stripe, £1,720) and the luxe sweatshirt (Whistles’ pale blue one with silk back is suitably smart, £85).
Plus, there are always accessories: posh pool shoes, designer trainers and soft leather rucksacks. As Kingham says: “These pieces can dress down a highly glamorous item and make it look very modern. Key ways to wear this look would be a luxe jumpsuit with trainers and a parka or pool slides with a relaxed boyish suit.”
On your marks, get set . . .