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24-09-2011
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Hyperfemininity S/S 2012: Do women want to look like that again?
I'm not sure whether a similar issue has been raised (mods, please feel free to remove/relocate), but after seeing collections such as Prada and Jil Sander, I found myself wondering if it makes sense to imitate the 1950's, a decade not usually associated with social progress...in 2011/12. Or at the very least, long after that side of the 1950's, which promised a non-threatening, structured lifestyle.

Understandably, hard times make people seek out comfort, which could easily be associated with the past. But for a while, it seemed like designers were gearing up for a fight. Even this season, there have been a few collections that didn't resemble a pity party, but rather looked forward with optimism, which is a much better way to lift a spirit out of a depression. And why not, the economy is slowly starting to recover.

It just seemed to me, like the general spirit was that of people running, going somewhere, getting on their bicycle, etc. And almost out of nowhere, we saw so many looks that were very very "proper", and quite backward-looking. I was really under the impression that tailoring has been undergoing a nice transformation to something softer and more user-friendly in terms of both wear and shape. So these neat tailored silhouettes seem a little unfair...Quite unlike anything in an Alaia or even Versace vernacular, which is almost always strong.

This rather sudden shift really threw me for a loop and I'd like to hear other people's opinions.

Do women really want to be dressing themselves in images of conservative femininity again? If so, why?

Is it responsible to spread this message, when women's roles are finally approaching a place where they should be?

What designers then, are doing it right, and why?

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24-09-2011
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I don't know if this is what you are referring to or not, but your post reminded me of women during WWII who would draw stocking 'seams' on the backs of their legs because they couldn't afford the real thing, or pincurl their hair because they couldn't afford to go to the salon. There is something to be said for that sense of DIY glamour despite unfavorable economic circumstances. Though it could be viewed as regressive feminism, there's something about those women that I find to very strong and self-determined.

On a completely different note, everyone is doing casual/hipster/hippie/boho/punk these days, so uber-glamorous retro looks are in the minority and thus, refreshing to see.


Last edited by Fabulyss; 24-09-2011 at 01:03 PM.
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24-09-2011
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What I find regressive is the notion that women should try to dress like eternal teenagers - or worse, like overgrown children - so I always welcome the return of any form of adult fashion.

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24-09-2011
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^And I feel like designers who have really made a difference have always been sensitive to how their clothes will suit the age range of their clientele.

Even the last Jil Sander collection could have looked right on someone who is 16 or 60, which isn't exactly the target market of the brand, but it was interesting.

And this is season, it's just, "bam!" images of women dressing for men, not themselves.
It's just a strange move. I guess it reinforces the fact that fashions fade...and we all know the rest.

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24-09-2011
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moving this to the in depth forum because it has the makings of a good discussion...
pastry- i agree with what you say about prada and jil sander being very lady like...
almost 'retro'...

kind of like old marc jacobs in the earlier days when he was basically re-doing vintage dresses over and over...

clearly- there is a customer for that...
just as clearly- that customer is not me!...


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24-09-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pastry View Post
And this is season, it's just, "bam!" images of women dressing for men, not themselves.
I think a lot of men tell you that women who wear Versace or Tom Ford dress really for them (for the men), and women wearing lady-like style are wearing for themselves but not for attract/satisfy men.

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24-09-2011
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Well, one idea that strikes me is that when women approach, as you say, being more equal, having to a certain extent reached that goal, it no longer is imperative to wear clothes that scream "I may be a woman, but I am foremost a professional" since woman and professional are no longer mutually exclusive.

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24-09-2011
  8
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i think that's a good point and somewhat true...
i don't think women need to hide their femininity so much anymore...

and i suppose that seeming sweet could actually be an advantage in some business situations...

what i don't care for though is the 'retro' vibe i get from both these collections...
prada...jil sander...

i'd like to look forward rather than back...
isn't there a more modern way to be feminine?...

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Last edited by softgrey; 24-09-2011 at 05:50 PM.
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24-09-2011
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^I have never seen anything like the Jil Sander collection in my 60s mags...it does have an unmistakable now element, actually, but perhaps it takes many years of pouring over old mags to see that. And certainly nothing like Prada either.

As soon as you, on a day dress, nip in the waist and still allow for some curves, you come closer to the pre youthquake fashions.

Prada might have been onto something, since many of those outfits looked like tents. That hasn't been done before. I guess the reason is that many of the prospective customers are not done procreating.

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24-09-2011
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Granted I'm not a woman and wouldn't try to speak for women, but I think the main thing to keep in mind when these retro mid-century styles come back (because they always manage to every now and then) is that back when those clothes were new they were what was acceptable to wear - and they were often the only thing that was acceptable to wear. There were fairly rigid rules that went along with dressing if you were a woman. Now it's not only a choice whether or not a woman wears these nostalgically feminine clothes, but how she wears them if she does choose to.

I think iluvjeisa and softgrey both hit the nail on the head; there really isn't any reason for women to sacrifice their femininity in order to be taken seriously anymore.

As an aside, I've always kind of hated that categorization of "dressing for herself" and "dressing for men" as a way of defining entire looks, not to mention categorizing entire groups of women who may or may not have anything in common beyond their taste in clothing. It's way too black and white for one, and it doesn't take into account the individual at all.

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Last edited by Spike413; 24-09-2011 at 06:29 PM.
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24-09-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pastry View Post
^And I feel like designers who have really made a difference have always been sensitive to how their clothes will suit the age range of their clientele.

Even the last Jil Sander collection could have looked right on someone who is 16 or 60, which isn't exactly the target market of the brand, but it was interesting.

And this is season, it's just, "bam!" images of women dressing for men, not themselves.
It's just a strange move. I guess it reinforces the fact that fashions fade...and we all know the rest.
I really felt as if the Jil Sander collection should have been a sort of satire, the sexy Stepford Wife, it seems cliche but it would have made more sense in the case of relevance for today's woman.
When the shopping channel music stopped and the 'Candy Shop' music started, I really expected the Stepword Wife outfits to morph into the sexiness that is really expected for a younger customer.
Instead, they continued and I was surprised - there was no potent contrast to the button down modesty replicating the 'fifties.

As I have previously mentioned in other threads, I am surprised that this 'ladylike' theme is continuing at all; last winter when the below-knee skirt first reappeared, people were continually commenting on how unflattering it would be. And yet, they are now showing spring 2012 and it hasn't stopped - it is getting more severe, in fact.
Will the woman of the 2010's be a lady without a sense of humour?

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24-09-2011
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While viewing the Jil Sander S/S 12 show, I did think of references that may not be aspirational to all women. (Hitchcock blondes, Nurse Ratched) However, I did greatly enjoy the collection. I hope this re-emergence of conservative taste is an attempt to redefine some of genre's subliminal messages.

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Last edited by nyc_art_style; 24-09-2011 at 07:36 PM.
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24-09-2011
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Thought I'd copy my comment from the Pucci thread here:

---------------
What is happening in Milan?! By and large there seems to be a virgin/whore split in the collections: everything from slutty mermaids (there's the dichotomy right there!), to tacky 80s bitch dressing, to even tackier gypsies, to even-tackier-than-that Hawiian grass skirts and lei-style florals, all the way through to "sweet" sickly car nostalgia, and scary Stepford wife clones & ice-cold frigid fashions. *heavy sigh.* I am disappointed.

NYC and London had their downsides, too, of course, but they were far far stronger collections, fashions, directions, depictions of women, overall, than Milan has been thus far. I guess I am putting my cards on Paris at this point, hoping that the best will be last!! (Or maybe Mui Mui will surprise. Here's hoping...)
--------------

Even if Jil Sander's collection is satire, when women wear it, it won't be interpreted as such, and "Candy Shop" won't be playing in the background. :p

Also, why don't people realize how utterly horrific The Stepford Wives was when it was originally made in the 1970s. It was showing the reactionary attitude towards feminism then. And to hear people saying these shows remind them of Avon ladies and Jackie O's and Stepford Wives is, frankly, scary to me. ALSO, if you contrast all of these frigid housewife, virginal blonde, sweet girlfriend and so on with the other images coming out of Milan - slutty mermaid, bitchy career woman, etc - it is a SAD state of affairs.

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24-09-2011
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First off I have to say I do like the looks of the 1950's. Or rather, I liked the style in the 1950's when it's from that time period. However, I do question if it's right to continue this tread of hyperfemininity now days. While it may seem pretty it just doesn't work very well in today's world. I think if hyerfemininity is done in a cheeky way, as Prada showed in the s/s collection, like cars on dresses and such it can sometimes work. Because it's calling out society on it's objectification of women.
Loved this soundbite from Cathy Horyn, "Men are a little obsessed about beautiful cars and women, so Ms. Prada seemed to be referring to the objectification of women. ‘Does a woman feel obliged to be sweet’ in society, she asked, ‘or is it a choice?'"
But at the same time part of the problem is no one is going to see these collections as ironic (if that's indeed what they are trying to be. Although many aren't at all, they are just buying into the "sweetness" of the era). And while the clothing of these era's was nice the way women were treated wasn't. Women were often put into Stepford Wives situations. It irks me that as a society we are still splitting women into the virgin/whore categories. Either you are one or the other. Which is a load of rubbish in my opinion no one should be labeled like this. Yet, our fashions continue to do so.

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Last edited by YoninahAliza; 24-09-2011 at 08:56 PM.
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24-09-2011
  15
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hmm over-interpretation? For me fashion has no intention to contribute to social sciences or in particular the gender issue, only a means to an end for (some) customers to express themselves (like "take me seriously", "I don't give a XYZ how I look like", "I never age" or "I thought it was 10°C warmer")

On the designer or corporate site the magic dice have spoken: 50ties are in, ta-da.

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