If ever there were an effective way to demonstrate that the fashion follower has enough of a conscience to avoid wearing her wealth on her sleeve then it surely lies in a choice of clothing that appears crumpled – even aged.
This is the sartorial equivalent of no make-up make-up, for example, or hair that is studiously tousled and, as anyone who has ever bought in to this particular aesthetic will know, it is as, if not more, difficult to achieve than Uptown New York polish, say.
On a street level, this mindset comes in the form of deliberately bleached and torn denim. Current/Eliott – the designer jeans label du jour – started this, this time around at least, and it's caught on. There is something somewhat disingenuous, however, about achieving the look of an eighteenth century cotton picker at big budget prices. Best confine this style to the high street or, better still, don't go there at all.
Elsewhere, a more discreetly aged look that is no more directly associated with, well, with poverty and slave labour not to put too fine a point on it, is more feminine, even delicate – a welcome counterpoint to the body-conscious 'look-at-me-and-my-perfect-body' Eighties-inspired aesthetic that elsewhere continues to dominate.
In fact, these two very disparate sides of womenswear have long gone side by side. In the 1980s, the distressed looks created by both Comme des Garçons and Yohji Yamamoto provided a supposedly more thoughtful fashion consumer with a way out of bright, brash power-dressing Claude Montana/Thierry Mugler-style. By the end of that decade, Martin Margiela had come onto the scene taking things one step further – pulling clothing apart at the seams, allowing frayed edges to drag along the floor and sewing shoulder-pads onto the outside of clothes.
Fast forward to spring/summer 2009 and Burberry's English rose wears her lightly crumpled dresses in apple green, the colour of English orchards, and gun-metal grey. Prada favours gold, bronze and rose and Bottega Veneta has come up with scrunched silks in warm shades of burnt orange and caramel.
The difference this season, then, is that there is nothing much dark about the way designers propose we wear crumpled clothing. This is not an obviously anti-establishment reaction to status dressing but a rather less aggressive affair and a more overtly sexual one at that – today's fashion heroine is undone, if you will, less trussed up than her black Lycra-wearing sister and considerably less intimidating for it.
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