Susannah Frankel: 'The more you wear harem pants, the droopier they become. And that, strangely, is their appeal'

 

"I'm writing a new column called 'Susannah shops'," I told my other half last week. "But you don't," he replied, which just goes to show how effective my sweeping through the front door, carrier bags in tow, never catching his eye and shouting "It's not for me" must be. Most of the time that's a lie. Obviously. I certainly wasn't buying the Rick Owens' fine-knit harem pants I came home with most recently for anyone else.

"What are they? Droopy leggings or something?" asked a colleague when she saw them. Well, yes, actually. That's just what they are. Or even, at a stretch, long johns. Not only that, but the more you wear them, the more droopy they become. And that, strange you might think, is their appeal. Copies of Owens' designs – everywhere from other catwalks to M&S – differ from the original as they're blended with Lycra, meaning they hold their shape. The designer himself, however, doesn't want them to. And neither, for that matter, do I. A deliberately worn – oh, all right then, saggy – effect is, in this instance, to be embraced with pride.

In fact, the trouser shape of the moment is high-waisted, snug around the hips and wide-legged – think Margaux Hemingway. But for a woman who has preferred hers to look like nappies almost since she grew out of them, that's never going to wash.

I'm in good company. The Balenciaga designer Nicolas Ghesquière loves a deeply unflattering pair of trousers just as much as his signature long, lean ones. Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons is rarely seen in anything but her own label's oversized dhoti pants, and it is not unknown for Yohji Yamamoto's low-slung trousers to have one skinny and one wide leg which, admittedly, might be pushing it. Vivienne Westwood, meanwhile, has been both designing and wearing dropped-crotch trousers since her earliest days. She says their idiosyncratic cut "makes you look like you've shat yourself – but I don't care". Which is nice.

Susannah Frankel is fashion editor of The Independent

s.frankel@independent.co.uk

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