As the fizz of champagne is replaced with effervescent tonics and tinctures, we are left at this time of year with the pervasive reek of self-improvement. And what is fashion about, if not that?
Improvement is a loaded word; adaptation, or progress, are the sort of synonyms a life coach might employ. But we all know what they really mean.
We imagine ourselves at our very best capacity as the New Year’s bells toll and our lives click up by another digit – and that was the vision that designers had for 2013, too.
The shows this season all attempted to fuse the classic delicacy of the eternal feminine with something rather more modern, more practical, “more tough”, as Donatella Versace had it. Hers was a collection that saw lingerie lace inlaid onto strict and sexy tailoring; silk workwear blouses cutaway revealing flesh, goddess gowns with all the signature sensuality of the label, but something of the pastoral, too.
Miuccia Prada also explored how to combine fragility with ferocity in sugary hued sporty separates, emblazoned with naive daisy prints, but cut and wrapped with all the samurai savagery of traditional Japanese dress. Bottega Veneta’s Tomas Maier showed floral teadresses embellished with leather and studs; Christopher Kane’s girlish pastel pieces were held together with plastic nuts and bolts.
It all seems to point to one thing: that as far as self-improvement goes, you can’t change your essential nature. Anyone who has ever held down a gym membership without ever using the machines will know that.
But with clothing, our personalities are more fluid – that’s what this trend for juxtaposition is all about. So this season – for those, like me, who would never dream of wearing white for fear of tripping up into a dustheap – it is possible to be both.
To dress as your imagined self while capturing the essence of the IRL you: just wear your sundresses with hobnail boots and a streak of mud down one cheek. Or look out for this new style, designed to work for the real you as well as the you in your head.