Womenswear, please get over the ‘interesting little dress’
“Interesting little dresses are boring,” read a subject line in my inbox this morning. “When are you filing this? I want it!” Alyx, my editor here at TheVine, wrote. As far as I remember, that subject line was something I said in a full-blown bitch fit Alyx and I had at La Bodega Negra during London Fashion Week. Bored with going to show upon show and seeing the same little dress with some uninspiring detail on it, I’d had enough. For years it’s been like this, it seems. One day around 2006, designers decided women weren’t supposed to wear trousers anymore, and in came the ‘interesting little dresses’. It was cool to begin with, although it took a while before you actually started seeing women wearing dresses on other occasions than cocktail parties. But then it all started going downhill.
Before I go on, let me define the concept: an ‘interesting little dress’ is usually a tight knee or thigh-length dress, and it always has some sort of twist such as a print or something attached to it. Maybe it’s geometrical or asymmetrical or has a separate train. But the ‘body’, so the speak, is tight and never cut below the knee. I’m not saying a collection full of these dresses is a deal-breaker for me. On the contrary, some of my favourite collections especially in London consisted solely of ‘interesting little dresses’. It’s just that when you go to eight shows in a day and all you see is dresses, you don’t just get bored but real despair kicks in.
Womenswear seems to be at point in its ever-developing cycle where it’s not so much developing as much as it’s just replacing old details with new details. Nothing is happening to the silhouette and no one can even come up with a new boundary to push. It’s kind of funny since menswear always used to be the corner of ready-to-wear that carried the ‘here we go again’ label. There were only so many things designers could do with suits, until suddenly they all started working on something completely different. Couture elements are now appearing in menswear, the silhouettes are changing, and new territories are being discovered, all the while womenswear seems to have come to a complete standstill.
Dresses are the cornerstone of women’s fashion, and I’d hate to see them disappear. But if the first place designers go to when they start designing is that place – that ‘interesting little dress’ – we’ve got a serious problem. And in the real world, women wear more separates anyway. Skirts are worn more than dresses, trousers are worn more than skirts, and jeans are worn more than trousers. So why not turn things around? Work on something a little more challenging, and stop sticking things to knee-length dresses or replacing one print with another. It’s the same frigging silhouette. You are not fooling anyone. Interesting little dresses are anything but. As beautiful as they may be, they’re still stupid and boring.