Be your own woman

Posted on: 7th April, 2015

Category: Image

Contributor: Louise O'Dwyer

What is real and what is fake? What does the misperception of the two mean for our understanding of beauty and fashion? These are the questions that have been raised again and again over the last few years, both inside the fashion industry and out — by legislators, the advertising industry and women, activists or not — as the truth versus airbrushing movement has reached epidemic proportions. When they come up, they generally and understandably provoke passion and debate; what they do not often provoke however, is clothes!

Exploring ideas of retouching, genetic modification and plastic surgery — the things we do these days because we are not happy about the laws of nature — this time round the designer sent out shrunken trouser suits with three-button jackets and pants cropped at the ankle, sculptural baby doll dresses, neat little coats in the sugary pastel shades of cliched femininity but remade in spongy futuristic techno-jersey fabrics and so on…

Miuccia Prada really pushed these limits in this season’s jaw-dropping collection. While of course there were lots of Bouffant up-dos (I’ve tried it and I love it), 1960s style flat bows and everything accessorised with opera gloves, there were also real ostrich skin spaghetti-strap dresses and faux ostrich-print leather jackets, plastic flower brooches and rhinestone flower brooches, real tweed draped sleeveless tops with coordinated pants and faux tweed prints. Of course all of the top designers have played with this real/fake interchange in fashion many times before but never with such irony as the House of Prada.

It has definitely struck a chord with me, it makes absolute sense that fashion should mimic exactly what is going on in the world, in fact there is no better subject matter. When it comes to the Real/Fake debate, both realities are a part of today, it’s as simple as that. Our children will mature in an age where boob jobs and botox will be the norm, where every camera and phone will have an app that automatically airbrushes away all the blemishes in a photo, especially a ‘selfie’, where it will be impossible to know what eye colour someone actually is because of colour contacts and with eye make-up and fake tan it will be harder and harder to tell our ethnic origin! I’m throwing it all out there, something to think about and there are very definitely good arguing points on both sides of the real/fake debate. Which side are you on?

We wait with baited breath each season to see what the likes of Calvin Klein, Moschino and Emporio Armani have created — delightedly knowing that small chunks will filter down into the high-street shops so that we can afford them. One thing is for sure though — this seasons’ collections were slapstick funny in lots of ways with Lego-bright shades, quilted puffa everythings splashed with hip-hop Looney tunes characters; but don’t you think that easy jokes can wear thin after a while, especially when the suggestion is that they actually be worn? Most women, other than Katy Perry, do not want a visual punchline, so it will always be steadfast and true that the classic little black dress, well-fitting trendy trouser, sexy pencil skirt, gloriously crisp white blouse, real leather handbag, good linen trousers, subtle-print eye-catching little summer dresses and trench coats, snug-fitting jeans, simply must take centrestage in every modern womans’ wardrobe. Add your bit of ‘fake’ here and there but only in minute quantities (keep Ms Perry in mind)!

Versace is very definitely influenced by the ‘Digital’ age with this seasons collection titled ‘# Greek’ especially for the Twitter generation. This motif appeared in electric shades on intarsia sweaters and simple day dresses, mixed up with tailored black jackets and swishy trousers! Yes, this was a bolder approach to the ‘Digital Divide’; I guess it has to be celebrated even down to the pixelated world via dots on trousers, shirts, vests and coats occasionally broken up with vinyl squares. To be honest I thought a lot of this collection was a bit complicated, it mirrored looking at a maths problem, but I do see that they are generational clothes, that will definitely appeal to the ‘younger ones’ and will be on the highstreet soon enough.

I love Salma Hayek, I think that she is an exquisitely beautiful actress and in recent times she has proved herself a very successful businesswoman. She is now the face of Pomellato Jewellery — a Milanese jewellery label. Yes it is very much the time for big statement pieces to take centrestage, the bigger the better it seems draped around your neck. Salma, on being asked what she liked about jewellery, responded with “To me, jewellery can be, if you are very lucky in life, a little map of your story. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It marks special moments in time. The people that give it to you, and why and when, tells you a little bit of that time. When you’re gone — again, if you’re very lucky and didn’t have to sell your jewellery — this stays behind for the next generation.” Wow, she said it all. Don’t just wear any piece of jewellery, wear a piece that means something and better still wear a piece that you have inherited, been lovingly given or most especially, wear a piece given by a friend who sometimes knows you better than you know yourself — it shows in the piece. In other words, have a connection with everything that you wear, clothes, jewellery, bags and so on; don’t just follow the trend, be very much ‘your own woman’. Don’t put something away in the back of your wardrobe that is too ‘good’ to wear, get it out and wear it and ‘always tell the story’ — the story of who gave it to you or how it came to be yours because it reminds you that someone thought that much of you. Sometimes we need reminding of just how special we are, don’t we?

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