Femininity means different things to different people, but if there’s one thing you can count on it’s that womenswear designers will always find new ways to celebrate it. As the lights go down on another season of New York Fashion Week, we take a look at three collections that each brought their own unique version of femininity to the runway.
Tanya Taylor had New York’s Spring Studios decked out like a Pantone colour swatch of sandboxes. The vibrance started there and seeped upwards into every garment — a spring collection for the woman who finds life in her clothing and uses it as a source of energy.
Indeed it would be hard to feel anything less than vivacious and energised in clothing like this, inspired as it was by tropical islands and rendered as a visual treat. Taylor played with ruffles and frills, tassels and fringing, texture and tone. Raspberry and cobalt fearlessly collide in one look; clashing florals and stripes signify both boldness and freedom in another. Taylor’s fabrics are lightweight and soft — linen, poplin and textured silk balanced by the occasional hint of leather — adding to their feminine feel. And yet, in her most vivid pieces Taylor seemed to say that femininity need not be a whisper; it, too, can be playful and loud.
Nicky Zimmermann recalls Sydney, circa 1980s. A time when subcultures were emerging overseas and Australia’s youths couldn’t directly access them. “We were bowerbirds,” says Zimmermann. “We couldn’t find the clothes that others could buy so we made things. We ripped up tutus, we stole dad’s shirts, we found old pieces of lace — we tied, we tattered, tangled and frayed.” With that memory as the basis of her spring / summer 2017 collection, it emerged an eclectic patchwork of textures and details; explosions of lace, hacked-together panels of print, fetishist struts of corset lacing and a hint of boudoir attitude. Combine all that with a soft, dusty and wholly romantic colour palette and Zimmermann’s collection falls into the realm of feminine with a definite edge.
If the traditional view of femininity is one involving delicate lacework, soft colours and frills, then Jonathan Simkhai’s spring / summer 2017 collection fits the bill.
Not that femininity needs stick to the traditional view, mind you — and with deconstructed cuts in which the ruffles appeared to be cut away then loosely reattached, intricate beading adorning nonchalant chambray denim, and hyper-sensual displays of skin, Simkhai both conformed to and rejected tradition all at once. Simkhai usually favours a high neckline but this time the collarbone was adulated beyond even the shoulder or thigh, with deep-V necklines and camisole straps lending a feminine delicacy to almost every piece. Much like femininity, sensuality is whatever you choose to make it.