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Editorial: Spinney & Sprite I

Victorian femininity in an ethereal light...

Sylvia, Blerina & Sarah

Lucy Golding

Fashion editor & photographer
Karina So.

Part I

As promised, my fixation with England's meteorology in recent editorials has been put on hold... momentarily. This month, my preoccupation was with the Spring/Summer 2016 shows and their demonstrations of the scope of femininity. From Alber Elbaz's elegantly dishevelled Lanvin lady to Jeremy Scott's fierce, boisterous Moschino woman, fashion month was rife with traditionally feminine fabrics and silhouettes compensating for the influx of masculine tailoring and androgynous styling in 2013/14.

While tailoring and masculine cuts still made appearances over at Preen and Dior, they were either coupled with or followed by meadow prints and gauzy organza for that ultra-feminine lady boss aesthetic once rampant in the Eighties. More often than not however, it seems next season's woman was from much further back in the archives with the charm, artistry and etiquette of a nineteenth century debutante - and a little grit and aplomb borrowed from the eras that have followed.

Stitch work and embroidery at Marques Almeida and Gucci reference the DIY sewing skills embedded in the education of society women while tiers of ruffles, pleats and tulle nodded to their modest elegance. Josep Font pulled out all the stops at Delpozo with embellished, architectural gowns worthy of an audience with the Prince in court. The Burberry cape's dramatic new look bore close resemblance to the Regency cloak, and guipure lace was once again at the mercy of Han Chon at Self Portrait. Often deemed the demurest of fabrics, next season's woman will be exploiting the revealing nature of girlish lace for sex appeal that's subtle but undeniable when noticed, with chemisette necklines (this blouse at 3.1 Phillip Lim is essential) providing an illusory state of undress that's just as endearing.

Like the Directoire-style garms worn back then, the loose-fitting fabrics draping over the natural curves of the female form at Calvin Klein, Jenny Packham and Michael Kors offered neoclassical goodness with a modern spin. This reversion to fashion of decades past is hardly new territory; fashion is nothing if not cyclic. The iconic creations of one era define it and lend inspiration to the next, either to pay homage of or deliberately the opposite.

But where does this demureness fit in with the state of affairs for women today?

With the increasing number of victories in the war against gender inequality comes the continuous shirking of old-world sensibilities. Take the rebellion and revolution in the turbulent Sixties, for example, that sparked the overture of digression from the conservative social conventions of the previous decade, from the Civil Rights movement to the de facto discrimination against women that put constraints on every aspect of their lives. Fashion standards were dictated by traditional beliefs about a woman's "place" and career prospects were consequently curbed unfairly.

As necessary as current developments have been, what has somewhat unfortunately fallen to the wayside is the elegance and meticulous grooming - not to mention the varied mass culture - that sustained the glamour of the Fifties.

Presumably under constant scrutiny, a woman's image was everything. From her coiffure to the pressing of her clothing, each factor was to be carefully considered for an accurate depiction of her most ideal self. Think Instagram but without the instantaneous digital advantage. The upkeep was far more intense than stocking photos of your legs swathed in your crisp white cotton sheets or your local barista's latte art for when there's nothing going on in your life that quite lives up to your feed aesthetic. In broad terms, her only purpose outside caring for her domestic domain was to be visually appealing to members of the opposite sex. But as ludicrous as the reason for such high maintenance sounds, this disciplined approach to achieving and maintaining that poise and elegance in as many aspects of one's life is a bygone art much missed.

Theatricality was the norm du jour, to the symphonic sounds of Sinatra and Doris Day. Even the most mundane of accomplishments was cause for celebration. But today, a cheeky Nando's or the infamous Netflix-and-chill across the Atlantic will just about suffice for many. Of course there's no judgment here. I once spent my birthday alone in bed, devouring eighteen slices' worth of an entire chocolate cake with Drs Cooper and Hofstadter because I quite literally could not be arsed... On the other hand, I have the right to vote.

Where many women today can be likened to the brazen Amazons of mythological origins, our predecessors would probably be the fairies in a folkloric world but perhaps a more coherent welding of past and present should be encouraged for the sake of the future. Those bittersweet eras past may have involved an embarrassing level of injustice but the self-affirmation, the chivalry, the communal grandeur appended in these nostalgic revivals on the runway are worth revisiting, rumoured credit-crisis sequel allowing.

In Part II, we get to see our Victorian Sylvia, Sarah and Hazel as their fantastical counterparts shot in the Hollies, Leeds.


Models - Blerina Hysenaj, Sarah Hazel & Sylvia Devine
Make-up artist - Lucy Golding
Accessories & wardrobe - Dora Bauer Designs
Creative director, hair stylist, stylist, photographer - Karina So.

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