Decline of the hemline

There is much comment on the ups and downs of fashion’s turbulent relationship with the financial markets – when stock is up, so are hemlines. But this season’s long skirts, seen at Ann Demeulemeester and Yohji Yamamoto, reflect much more than just our current fiscal fiasco – they’re symbolic of a new age for fashion.

The long skirt is in the first instance a throwback to more austere times: women have kept their knees under wraps from the moment cavemen started getting twitchy about someone else checking out their wife’s ankles. They’re symbolic of reserve, formality, nostalgia, even repression.

After the elaborate volumes of skirts during the Elizabethan age(left), with the Regency and the short-lived Directoire period came a more streamlined silhouette, which blossomed among a small group of  Parisian socialites towards the end of the 18th century( on right).

Thereafter, strict Victorian mores ensured another growth spurt in the span of skirts, some of which took up entire train carriages trundling along the newly invented railroads. Reform came only with a change of monarch and a change of underwear (bloomers to bikini’s).

The fin de siècle corset shape was an S-bend, designed to promote the bust and derriere, and skirts subsequently cascaded over a bustle rather than sweeping out to the sides, heralding a narrowing of line(left). But this was soon abandoned with the invention of Paul Poiret’s “hobble skirt.”

Creating a revolution in women’s wardrobes (despite the wearer’s movement being severely impeded), Poiret’s system of dressing focused on separates rather than entire ensembles. The skirt, worn with blouses or tunics, became a skirt in its own right, rendering the matching bodice obsolete.

During the 1920s hems rose in a nod to feminine empowerment and austerity measures, but they descended again in the Thirties, a decade known first for its decadence, then its dictators. Change came again with wartime rationing – there was simply not enough fabric for full-length creations. The next incarnation of the long skirt arrived in the Sixties, as a bohemian take on a nostalgic pastoral idyll. But this time it came with the vote, sex and drugs.

Since then, long skirts have become political. They’re a subculture unto themselves; wearers are intellectuals, goths, the Plymouth Brethren. They’re an oddity in a society full of bare thighs. When Yamamoto presented his collection’s long black skirts in the Eighties, against a backdrop of Thierry Mugler and Christian Lacroix’s trompe l’oeil mini-crinis and bird-of-paradise aesthetic, onlookers were shocked and assumed his take was one of negativity and cynicism. In fact, it was a purity of vision, and one that he has returned to for autumn 2010.

The long skirt may have associations with modern Puritans, but it isn’t a moral decision to wear one – not any more. It is symbollic of a wish to remove oneself from the Nuts, Zoo and Heat magazine culture; to ask for attention by not displaying flesh; to question what is eye-catching or elegant or intriguing.

And so to the disbelief and dismay of the masses, long skirts swished, swirled and trailed through the autumn collections: some gothic, some romantic – all deadly serious.


little shilpa growing up

The creative force behind the label Little Shilpa is designer Shilpa Chavan, born in 1974 in Mumbai. The Indian based designer started her career studying fashion design and manufacturing at Mumbai’s university. Shilpa then went onto specialize in accessory design and won scholarships to undertake intensive training courses in millinery and jewellery design at The London College of Fashion and Central Saint Martins.

Shilpa’s talents were acknowledged early in her career, when in 1996 she received the coveted Folio Trophy at her graduation for the ‘most creative and original collection’. In the same year Shilpa was a finalist in the Femina Miss India; Designer of the year award, as well as becoming a finalist at the Smirnoff International Fashion Awards and also The Swarnanjali Jewellery Design Contest. She has designed and handcrafted accessories for labels such as Manish Arora, Hemant Trevedi, Tarun Tahiliani, Malini Ramani , Sabyasachi Mukherjee & Aparna Chandra (India Fashion Week). & Unconditional at London Fashion Week.

In 2005 the designer undertook an apprenticeship with world-renowned milliner Philip Treacy in London. Shilpa has recently showcased a video & art installation at the Victoria & Albert Museum and taken part in the Trafalgar Square Festival, presenting a moving installation with Attakallari Dancers. In 2008, littleshilpa opened their first pop-up concept store in Goa called National Permit, selling a selection of headpieces & accessories.

In 2009, little shilpa was showcased their SS09 at lakme fashion week.

Drawing inspiration from armed forces uniforms of old she fuses bright brocades, antique medals and starched army greens to create next generation livery with a fresh modern twist.

And in around november 2009, one of their creation was worn by none other than Lady Gaga on the cover of Flare mag.

The crystal creation was specially customised for Lady Gaga by Shilpa Chavan, the desiginer and artist behind Little Shilpa. It’s a bob done in moulded acrylic with a little bow and a crown – all in crystals – backed with white feathers. It was created using swarovski crystals.

And this fall lakme show was all colors, sculpted and architectural works. Her show of brightly coloured perspex headpieces based on bikers’ helmets and native American headdress was exhilarating but, in fashion terms, pure fantasy.

And quite recently they were also featured on march vogue as well as the April Elle. To see more work, i would suggest you to check out their website , which is a pool of thought provoking images .

Trend Watch

While researching trends for the what to wear guide i researched the trends for the SS 2010. While this season has been high on shine with many designers using sequins and metallic’s in their collection, a trend which is a trickle of last season, it also had it’s grunge with distressed collection by balmain which is to die for.

But the biggest trend which has hit and is here to stay are the prints, YES !! they are back with full bloom, and this time they are really powerful, with prints ranging from small florals to digital. While Dior, Zac Posen and armani are some of the designers which had floral in their collections, the digital could be seen at McQueen, Versace and many others, here’s a look:-

Other trend to watch out for are BRIGHTS,, not only are they fresh, they are by Dior, Versace and many more. Promising not a single dull day,, the brights are here to stay !

then we had designers who had indian influences and brought the tie n dye and ikat to its full modern usage.

some other wardrobe staples of the season would be the the sheer fabrics and the pastels being spring summer. something else that was often seen were the drapes, iconic in that being the Burbery collection which had light pastel skirts and dresses in twisted drapes coiled along the body.

other trends that were there is the inner wear also termed by Elle mag as the Boudouir, all lace net and silk negligee as the trend for the summers, will be posting style boards for that soon .

till then ,, enjoy these :)

P.S :  So much to blog, so little time.