Femininity in 2005


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Posted by HSG on November 07, 2004 at 17:41:36:

In Reply to: Femininity in 1850 posted by Emily on November 06, 2004 at 17:55:58:


The dress in that image is truly lovely. It's wonderful to see an example of the sort of attire worn by 19th-century beauties such as Lillian Russell, but with all of its vibrant colour on display, rather than in a vintage black-and-white photograph.

The article refers to the "opulence" and the "lavish trimmings, and ornate accessories" of pre-1900s attire, and indeed--as we have often suggested--those elaborate, lush elements are tailor-made for setting off the charms of a plus-size figure, because they originated in a time when luxuriant womanly proportions were celebrated as the ideal of beauty, and when designers were predominantly interested in adorning curvaceous bodies rather than walking skeletons.

In a longer .pdf document, which also appears on the MFA Web site, the curators enthuse about the "opulent and luxurious fabric, including frothy tulles and gauzes" of the dresses in this exhibit. We are pleased to note that such details also distinguished the finest creations of the "New Femininity" in fashion, which made such an impact in the 2004 Spring/Summer season.

The MFA documents reveal that 19th-century designers also embraced another principle of plus-size fashion, the "body-as-fashion-accessory" concept. The show's documentation notes that "Evening wear for women was distinguished from day wear by short sleeves and very low necklines." Ergo, then, as now, curve-friendly designers realized that full, shapely arms and generous decolletage comprise part of a goddess's irresistible allure.

* * *

All of this would be merely an interesting historical footnote, except that today's designers appear to be paying very close attention to exhibitions such as these. A recent article (November 2) in FWD was titled "LA Spring Trend Report: Frilly, Flirty and Feminine." And if that title alone isn't enough to get you excited about the coming season, here is what the article forecasts for fashion in Spring/Summer 2005:

Girls, get ready to ruffle!

Judging by the Los Angeles designers collections shown during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Smashbox, Spring/Summer 2005 will be nothing if not ultra-feminine, flirty and frilly.

Think floral prints, icy pastels, lots of light frothy chiffon, and slinky silk charmeuse. Add crocheted sweaters, cotton eyelet blouses and summer ponchos. Dust off your espadrilles. Now take out your pencil and paper and get ready to make a spring shopping list.

Something Ruffled: Ruffles are literally everywhere. On short or long skirt, halter evening gowns or summery sundresses. Even shorts and Capri pants are ruffled. Especially on long and short sleeve sweet cotton blouses. Please use discretion or you will look like a May Pole.

The descriptions of the styles in both the MFA documentation about the 1850s exhibit, and in this article about next year's trends, sounds almost identical. The "aesthetic restoration" in fashion is well underway.

* * *

It is truly encouraging to see designers increasingly stepping away from their old practice of simply recycling the anti-plus trends of the 20th century, and instead drawing inspiration from pre-1900s fashion, which was far more favourable towards naturally-proportioned women.

What a shame, however, that last season (with the notable exception of Torrid), very few plus-size retailers embraced the New Femininity, in all of its frilly fascination.

Let us hope that the Spring 2005 season will be different, and that the plus-size industry as a whole will offer their customers the kinds of ultra-feminine designs that--after all--were created precisely with their beauty in mind.

Yanderis (Click NY, Irene Marie) modelling 2005 promwear--at SydneysCloset.com:

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