I don't know about you, but I personally love nothing more than to look 'pretty'. Not hot, not striking, not exciting just properly princessy pretty. Even when I was a little girl, I would HAVE to be the princess in those nursery games, you know the one "there was a princess long ago, long ago, long ago"? Well said princess had to be me or I would launch into a full on strop worthy of Mariah Carey. At Halloween my sisters would favour a scary look - that's the point, apparently- like a warty green witch or a pasty vampire, but I would never want to look anything other than cute and would reach for my Disney-store frocks and paint just a little pink heart on my cheek before twirling and churning out a stellar joke in my quest for fun sized Milky Ways. Ever since those days, i've been the very definition of a girly girl.
If you've read SW Fashion before (thanks for returning), you'll probably already know of my infatuation with all things lace-y, pink-y and chiffon-y. For example, as much as I love Zara's new season feathered electric blue and crimson skirts, my eyes still wander and my heart is still set firmly on their creamy blouses and muted sequin jackets. All this is in my age-old pursuit of prettiness. You could say it comes from my intense vanity which led me to believe that my facial features are slightly masculine and thus by keeping my wardrobe choices frothy and frilly I would never look too "harsh" really... or too much like a drag queen.
For AW11, however, I may be in for a shock. How do you, I wonder, manage not to look harsh while wearing a patent leather harness? Thanks for that McQueen, appreciate it. Yes ladies and gents, you read that correctly- fetish, dominatrix, S&M, Gaga-stylee or whatever you want to call it is very much the look this season. We're talking handcuffs on clutches, strict corsetry, rubber stockings and meticulous lace-up boots... those Louis Vuitton ones took 120 minutes and 4 dressers to lace the supermodels into as Katie Grand "wanted [them] to feel the ritual of being laced into those boots". So sex is, once again, right at the forefront of fashion, but don't you think it's just a little to taboo for the mainstream?
Unsurprisingly the minx that is Marc Jacobs took the reigns on this one with all sorts of naughtiness featured at his 'The Night Porter" inspired show for Louis Vuitton which balanced discipline with novelty touches and still managed to look more than a little bit tempting. His show made the fashion editors sit right up and make damn sure that this would be THE trend for AW. But what was going through his mind when he sent French maids or a smoking Kate Moss down the catwalk? Well he ignored the common conceptions of fetish and instead veered towards the suggestive, the stricter side of sexy to empower his discerning clientele. He summed it up beautifully with the words
"You can talk about sexual fetish, but you can also talk about the fetish of dying to have a bag... Instead of thinking of it as a dirty thing, it's really a very beautiful thing."
Convinced? I'm finding this a tricky one. Yes, I have dabbled in leather, but my PU Topshop leather leggings just didn't really work quite as they do on Emmanuelle Alt and no one was particularly fond of the scratchy sound they made as I walked. Plus the fierce effect is somewhat diminished when paired with a creamy blouse. I suppose you could say I had flirted with wearing sheer- but only in blush or nude, never black unless with a camisole underneath (I promise, i'm not over 70...). So what to do, what to do? It's going to be a right shock to the system weaning myself off summer's comforting femininity and plunging straight into a wardrobe of buttoned up sheer shirts and patent pencil skirts. So unashamedly sexy at Givenchy, so undeniably ridiculous on me.
Still I refuse to wash over this as I have done copious times before. The reason why is simple, part of me- the part that isn't obsessed with looking like a less polished Barbie- kind of adores it. Every goody-two-shoes has a darker side (or in my case, wants one) and however prim you may be, you are likely to find it difficult to resist this risqué allure. Come on Middleton sisters, throw us a curveball: shun your piped macs and come over to the dark side... Giles is waiting with a patent leather dress. All joking aside, though, the trend has quite a bit of appeal and not just because it looks good, it's because it's powerful.
I hate the concept of dressing to please a man, and this trend initially appears to be just that... but it's almost definitely not. Giles Deacon sums it up, after sending out a dominatrix-themed show at Ungaro, by saying "Fetish is about empowerment and showing women in control. It's not meant to be misogynistic." Well said. While this fad sounds as though it will look overtly sexual and borderline indecent, it certainly isn't one for the boys. I have a feeling many would run a mile if approached by a Mugler-clad lady wielding a whip. Boys like their girls all nice and Cheryl Cole-y, not powerful and strict. This is why I want to try it, even just for a day? The Louis Vuitton boots would be a nice place to start...
This idea of eroticism has been influencing fashion since the 1970s, but never more so than now. The cycle of fashion often arrives back at fetish, but this is the time to embrace it whole-heartedly, it can't done by halves. Take the delicious boned Givenchy skirts with suggestive panels of sheer (sorry, I get a bit carried away when talking of Riccardo Tisci's Givenchy, I fall head over heels with every single collection...). It just isn't compatible with a white vest and platforms- thats a little too Jennifer Aniston I think. No, these skirts require a buttoned up blouse and an aggressively corseted belt finished off with dangerously pointed stilettos. That's how it's done, ladies: panther hat and Naomi growl optional.
And you're not getting away that easily... your standard beauty routine just isn't going to cut it either. I've always shyed away from scraping my hair off my face through fear of looking like Ms Trunchbull (surprising style icon this season?), but thats the way of the moment so just grin and scrape it, I suppose! It should be slick and glossy like lashings of rubber, then clasped in a ferociously tight, razor sharp ponytail. Aah my sun-bleached waves are a no-go zone. This look can't be glamourous or groomed or it veers towards TOWIE style. Oh, and don't you daaare reach for that Russian Red either. We aren't dressing up as sexy secretaries here. Keep the make up polished, minimal and slick slick slick.
But can it translate from the high fashion catwalks to a high street near you? I am not so sure. I have not seen ANYONE on the street wearing this trend, with the exception of the ubiquitous leather leggings, and people I have asked have been more than a little put off at the mention of "fetish" or "bondage". Maybe the modern fetish look is one reserved for those lucky enough to be able to dabble in McQueen, Mugler and Ungaro, but I personally would love to give it a try, I may have to try on a tonne in Harvey Nichols, sneered at by sales assistants knowing from my faux Chanel bag that i'm poor and have every intention but no means of buying that £3000 leather dress. Apologies in advance.
Yesterday, however, I rummaged the high street in Edinburgh searching for anything remotely Marc Jacobs and had little to no luck. Below are some of my findings, all very nice, but all a little too staid to fully embrace this trend. Well maybe if you combined the River Island skirt (mmm I want it so much but the size 6- get. me. some. pies.- is a just that little bit too big to look 'right') with a buttoned up black blouse and a corset belt we could be talking? Worth a try (and a buy) at least!
So once again: sex is in fashion. But this time it's full on and full throttle. Would you brave it? Tweet me @SWfashion_ or comment below! I would love to hear your thoughts on this one because I really wanted to do more research for it... LCF here I come!