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The New Warrior, Part 1

March 28, 2016

No one loves the strong, warrior woman look more than I do. Our clothes are often our armor, and a powerful, structured silhouette projects a take-no-prisoners, almost superheroine vibe that—for me, anyway—gives me confidence with every step I take. The best outfits should give you that feeling, no matter the shape or style.

So for spring, I kept coming back to the question: Does strong always have to mean structured? Why can’t empowerment have a softer edge?

After a few seasons of sharp angles, I was excited to explore a different side of the warrior woman, one with a lighter, more fluid feel. I kept coming back to women in the 1920s, who redefined what it meant to be independent, creative, and feminine. Fashion of that decade reflected this freeing, rule-breaking spirit, quite literally. Gone were corsets and boning and all the traditional technical elements of women’s garment construction. Women were physically freer in their clothes. They could move, they could play sports, they could Lindy Hop! We take it for granted now (or maybe not), but this was revolutionary.

So I kept spiraling around this concept of freedom that the 1920s embodied, but I didn’t want to make it too derivative of specific trends. No one needs a closet full of dropped waists and miles of fringe in 2016. Rather, I tried to take it back to the essence of that Roaring 20’s mood: new silhouettes that married elegance with modernity, release, and joy.

To get to that new silhouette, I started with a circle. Geometric, symmetrical, deceptively simple, and flat—but when draped on the body in different ways, these three dimensional, fluid shapes emerge.

The RITA and CLARA dresses are just two fabric circles with four well-placed seams, and the ELSIE skirt comprises four circles sewn together—I was fascinated with how the resulting shapes flowed along the body, creating these sculptural yet feminine pieces. They are statement-making yet soft, flattering yet freeing.

People often ask where I get the names for garments, and they usually spring from women I admire from a particular era or group. Fortunately, this season I had a roster of amazing women to look to, from the 1920s-1940s.

The iconic face of the flapper, Clara Bow was a new kind of screen siren: clever, boyish, physical, joyful, and definitely not afraid to speak her mind to the male studio heads in the room. She redefined powerful femininity. I can picture Miss Bow shimmying and vamping in the Clara dress, much like how I see Rita Hayworth dancing with Gene Kelly, holding her own, and showing off those gorgeous shoulders in the Rita dress.

Sometimes the simplest elements can lead to the most intriguing designs—we just need the freedom to experiment and play. It's one of the Jazz Age's greatest legacies.

Read The New Warrior, Part 2 >>

 

Posted in Inspiration, The Look


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