Life rarely proceeds in a linear direction so it’s nice if at least something can be relied on to trace a straight pathway, even if it’s only in your wardrobe. A nod to the athletic influence that has pervaded runways from New York to Paris – as well as the op-art movement that has designers bedazzled – today’s stripes (the bigger the better) allow you to have your sport and culture too. Not to mention the advantages of visual geometry as associated with the vertical line. Which is a wordy, highfalutin way of saying: they make you look skinny.
Here’s a riddle: when is buttoned-up not buttoned-up? Answer: when you’re talking about a shirtdress, of course. It may involve the actual buttoning of buttons, but the effect is the opposite of prim; it’s slightly twisted, slightly short, slightly … exposed. More redolent of rolling out of bed, grabbing a boyfriend’s shirt, and slinging it on than the 1950s style that actually originated the term. So maybe, in the interests of Truth in Fashion, we should rename it. The shirt-ish dress? The boyfriend frock? OK, maybe not.
Even fashion was not immune to the recent commodities boom. The markets may be feeling less bullish about heavy metals but designers are still fully invested – in bronze, gold, platinum, copper, you name it. Analysts, cut them some slack: they started these collections a few months back. So if it shines, it’s having a catwalk moment – albeit with a more casual attitude than ever before. Wear a 24-carat dress like a T-shirt! Slouch around in a gleaming all-in-one! Try some sneakers with your silver! Just don’t take it all too seriously. If fashion teaches us anything, it’s that what goes up must come down.
The way it happened is a mystery, but somehow Japanese designer Issey Miyake has become the unlikeliest of this season’s fashion muses. After all, there has been no recent documentary; no museum retrospective or widely reviewed monograph – all the stuff that usually sends other designers into a frenzy of homage in their own work. And yet the most omnipresent technique on the Paris runways, whichever way you cut it, was unquestionably the knife-edge pleat: in gowns, skirts, even laser-cut leather; on the diagonal and on the vertical; paired with silk and with tulle.