Self-love and body positivity define fall 2021 fashion sensuality – WWD



MILAN – From loungewear to lingerie, the step is short but decisive.

After a year of searching for comfort enveloped in cocooning silhouettes and cozy textures, women are ready to metaphorically shed their skin – to show it.

This has been suggested by many designers in their fall 2021 collections, in which they have instilled the art of seduction and the art of layering delicate laces, transparencies and revealing cutouts.

Alessandro Dell’Acqua played with the concepts of bourgeois and boudoir in the programming he presented for No.21 in February, balancing subtle eroticism and discretion with silk and lace lingerie pointing under jackets, dresses fringed and chiffon dresses. “Precisely because of these imposed chaste times, I wanted to make a collection that is not at all chaste”, said the designer at the time, when he imagined a wardrobe for women who “want to be journals”. He bolstered the engagement by launching a capsule collection of underwear last month.

Lucie and Luke Meier also imbued positive energy into their fall collection for Jil Sander, flanking the immaculate silhouettes of suits and coats not only with colors and patterns, but also sultry babydolls adorned with sophisticated lace inserts, that evoked the 90s.

The ambiance has also inspired the work of a large number of emerging designers from London to Milan, who have put their own twist on the sultry trend. If the improvement of the human body by Alessandro Vigilante went through minimalism in form-fitting silhouettes, deep slits, geometric cuts and contrasts in fabrics – including neoprene and vegan latex – Andrea Adamo, founder and creative director of emerging label AndreaAdamo, unfolded its signature knit, crafting curvy shapes in ribbed cardigans, soft corsets and off-the-shoulder dresses, all rendered in a palette of skin tones.

Del Core’s eccentric debut runway show opened with sharp, graphic suits worn over lacy underwear; CHB designer Christian Boaro opted for glamorous lace-trimmed babydolls, lace tank tops and vinyl trenches, while former publicist-turned-designer Alfredo Cortese exposed the flesh in his AC9 line with dresses. in sheer chiffon with plunging V-necks or stripped-back prom dresses. by their exuberance in wet-look black silk. At the Fashion East showcase in London, Nensi Dojaka layered transparencies in light, flared dresses with double bra details, sheer leotards and tulle corsets to match tailored pants.

But there was a reassuring quality in the many ways that sensuality was channeled, as it came from the same intimate, domestic dimension as loungewear.

“These are dresses meant for private moments and for the private self,” noted Melissa Marra-Alvarez, curator of education and research at the FIT Museum. “It’s an act of indulgence: you bring the inside out, you bring the private audience and so I think the ideas of embracing freedom, empowerment and sensuality resonate with so many. us stuck in our homes.

Emanuela Mora, professor of sociology of communication in the department of political and social sciences at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, also underlined the correlation between the trend and the current situation, with people being forced to rediscover their home environment by due to the pandemic. -induced lockouts.

“Improving sensual clothing is an expansion of the intimate dimension and time spent at home,” she says. “It is true that these dresses are designed to be worn to go out, but they represent a [development] from what we saw last year, this loungewear trend, which has a comfortable quality, but is now gaining momentum.

According to Mora, women “regain contact with bodily” and “rediscover the pleasure of sinuous forms compatible with their own private sphere and decide to transport them because they are able to manage these forms, because they move in. a world where the assertion of the right to dress as one wants must absolutely be defended and justified. “

This kind of attitude and awareness supports the specter of takes on the theme, some extending into party outfit territory. Discover the Gucci Aria collection in which Alessandro Michele picked up the seductive story of Tom Ford in the 90s and early 90s as part of the brand’s centenary celebrations. Introduced last month, the line was filled with sheer numbers, including a sheer lace statement and feathered dress revealing a bra and panties underneath. A transparent bra with logo, lace-up dresses and corsets have been added to the range, in which the house bit has also been transformed into a fetish harness for added seduction.

“Lingerie had a moment during the pandemic, but it wasn’t just about comfy basics and sweatpants. We’ve actually seen women buy flirty underwear, racy sets, garter belts, and even bondage-inspired lingerie. It’s a very emotional category and women saw lingerie as the new second-hand outfit, ”said Patricia Maeda, director of womenswear, underwear and swimwear at trend forecasting firm Fashion Snoops, based in New York.

“We cannot forget that sensuality plays a vital role in wellness fashion,” said Maeda. “While we understand the psychological effects of sensual dressing on building confidence and boosting morale, this new sartorial trend seems to be perfectly in sync with the desires of consumers.

According to curator and fashion historian Pamela Golbin “in general people just want to get their bodies back” and dressing sensually is just one way to temper and react to what they’ve been through over the course of time. Last year.

“There is something more intimate now and more about the person and each individual, as if you are embracing what makes you feel good and desirable,” she explained. “There’s something about it that says, ‘Look at me’,” but in a more intimate and attentive way.

“I think there is also a pride now in showing off the body, it’s almost like a ‘I feel good about myself’ statement. It’s about feeling comfortable with who you are, ”Golbin said.

To this end, the sultry imagery featured in the latest collections was indeed loaded with a refreshed sense of self-confidence and body ownership, which determines a significant difference from other fashion moments that conveyed similar trends.

If in the past fashion helped transform bodies into objects of sexual desire, this time the sultry aesthetic has been stripped of its most controversial elements, giving way to nuanced interpretations – from delicate to cheeky, romantic to pragmatic – rather. than to impose univocal, masculine – filtered codes.

Even when taking a voyeuristic approach to the fall 2021 collections, the designers presented women as subjects, not objects, consciously choosing to show off, taking back control of their bodies and their fashion choices.

This approach is once again part of the cultural landscape, reshaped by the pandemic and by the seismic upheavals generated by the #MeToo movement since 2017.

“[This trend] doesn’t mark the passage of the #MeToo movement, we certainly didn’t leave it behind, but in fact, we are crossing it and taking it one step further, ”Mora said. While the Dior Spring 2017 “We should all be feminists” t-shirt anticipated the seasons of social and political messages spelled loud and clear on the catwalks, fashion now seeks to offer ethical values ​​with a more subtle approach.

“It’s that return to sensuality, but on new terms, new patterns,” said Marra-Alvarez, predicting that today’s iterations of the trend will be interpreted “by championing body positivity and celebrating all cuts and sizes. “

Celebrating “sensuality as an attitude”, Pierpaolo Piccioli made a subtle statement – both romantic and libertarian – about body possession in Valentino, his models almost always bare-legged. Netting was a recurring theme, appearing on the diamond-patterned sweaters, mini-dresses and second-skin turtlenecks worn throughout the collection.

“The clothes that are shown today, although some may be a little more revealing than a few years ago, the skin that is shown is very different, it is a very different statement today than what it could have been several years ago ”Golbin argued.

Younger generations, especially Gen Z, have particularly talked about self-love, self-care, and body positivity, which suggests they’ll be looking at the sultry clothing trend through a new lens.

Maeda argued that “paradoxically, known as the social justice oriented generation, [today’s consumers] develop their own definition of sexy, turning sensuality on its head by collecting hyper-sexualized fashion items to bring visibility to issues such as sexual freedom and empowerment.

Yet Olivia Spinelli, coordinator and creative director of the IED Milan fashion school, pointed out that designers who empower women through sensuality are not new to the fashion industry. “Yves Saint Laurent was the first to recognize and give a voice to a type of woman who dressed in a feminine and sensual way without making her become an object and remains to this day the figure who reinvented the feminine wardrobe of an exquisitely topical way, “she said.

While in today’s landscape sensuality was seen as an ambitious and visually engaging response to months of confinement, Golbin also believes that the desire for renewed physical interaction played a role in designers’ creativity. .

“I think these specific collections coming out, for me, represent this natural desire that pervades us now that has been over a year of successive lockdowns,” Golbin said.

The textures used by the designers to make their collections for the fall suggested the same desire for contact and human touch, since they not only play with transparencies to visually awaken the imagination but also with fluid and silky fabrics, lace, embroidery and decorative appliqués to induce tactile sensations.

“It’s just an intuitive embrace of the body and the people around us. This brings us to a very essential need, which is touching [each other]Golbin offered.

See also:

Are the Roaring Twenties 2.0 just around the corner?

Why are fashion designers so drawn to rave culture?

Milan Fashion Week evening outfits shine and seduce


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