At a time when we are advised to stay at home, it is interesting to note that one of the strongest trends of the season invites you to undress, show, reveal. Whether through transparencies, necklines, lace or translucent materials, this spring calls for a new sexy. Which is, above all, synonymous with freedom, and empowerment, a long desired one.
“What would happen if one of my girls tried to be sexy?” The question was asked by Alessandro Michele, expert in transforming emancipated women into modern versions of cool grandmothers, after Gucci's spring / summer 2020 show last September. It was a kind of provocation, and it came after what many labeled "waking up from four years of dormancy." After all, in recent times, the Italian house had accustomed us to a certain restraint, which was far away from the explicit sexuality of Tom Ford (creative director between 1990 and 2004) and the bling-chic sensuality of Frida Giannini (who was at the forefront of the maison from 2006 to 2014). But not this time. Anyone with any doubts as to whether or not Gucci girls’ had a sexy side to them had a clear answer when the look that opened its range of proposals for the hot season was a black satin jumpsuit with the top made of tulle - see-through tulle.
If the piece, in itself, already seemed out of this world - at least to the most staunch supporters of chaos magic - the accessories that completed this unexpected combo (sandals with a dizzying heel, red fishnet socks, velvet choker with what looked like a scarab charm) announced what we already suspected. This is the Italian's way of shouting, loud and clear, "sensuality is back." He didn't say it like that, of course, but he justified the shift as a way of reinventing himself. "Fashion has a role: to make people walk through a field of possibilities ... sacralizing all forms of diversity and nurturing the indispensable skills of self-determination." Which means, my body is my temple and I wear whatever I feel like.
That is why, for this season, Gucci proposes a series of elements hitherto absent from the Michele era: deep necklines, skirts that look like veils, pronounced slits, lace mini-bodices, slip dresses made in what appears to be a mix of latex and lace, chiffon suits (see-through chiffon, yes) ... everything far away from the retired pensioner look that he has accustomed us during these five years at the helm of the Italian maison. "I'm afraid of getting bored," he said in an interview after the show. “I always have to try something new.” And that something new is, indeed, a new sexy, that goes in line with the world right now.
In a post #MeToo era, in which women regain the right to choose (saying "no" is, more than ever, as important and valuable as saying "yes", and that is true for any area of our lives) it is important not to forget the power of what the English designate as sexiness. “The biggest shock was [the fact that] Michele adopted sensuality. He has preferred distortions and peculiarities, but not today”, wrote journalist Nicole Phelps on the Vogue Runway website, recalling references to the S&M scene, the equestrian heritage of the house, and the option for elements such as vinyl, lace and slits. Even the handbags, such as Gucci Horsebit, with quote “Gucci Orgasmique” printed on it, corroborate this new mood. But is Michele alone in this new way of making sexy clothes?
The answer is only one: no. From the ashes of the last three / four years, a strong woman resurfaces, someone who is not ashamed to take on (and show) her body and who feels good doing it - not for others, but for herself. After a series of battles, from gender equality, to sizes equality, races, ages and sexual orientations, the time has come to strip ourselves of prejudices. This is seen, for example, in the role that underwear now occupies in our closets. Lingerie, which until recently was only meant to be hidden, protected, now has a prominent place in the most important looks of the season - bras were leading figures in Dior, Givenchy, Lanvin, Rejina Pyo and Alexander Wang fashion shows. It's a new power dressing.
It is a declaration of independence. It is a new way to conquer the much desired female self-determination - yes, through sex appeal. Examples? Gwyneth Paltrow in the latest Golden Globes: that tulle dress was an optical illusion that hid her underwear, her toned body and her million-dollar jewelry; or Zendaya, at the Emmy Awards, in a Vera Wang green lace corset, proving that she is no longer a Disney girl; or else Lily-Rose Depp, carefully uncovered by Chanel, in the last Bafta. Pure chance? Not at all. In fact, it is scientifically proven that all these wardrobe choices are part of a “movement”.
You only need to check the search engine Tagwalk (a kind of Fashion Google) to realize that it is so. Everything that is intimately linked to sensuality occupies the top places of the hundreds of “Global Fashion Week Trends” studied by that website: cut outs (fourth place), nudity (ninth place), corset (eleventh place), bra (seventeenth place). And no, none of this has to do with sex. It is time to value craftsmanship (hence lace and embroidery), tulles and crinolines, silks and organza, leathers and organic cottons. Transformed into bustiers, bodies, pencil skirts, XS (or XL) shorts, in anything that justifies a certain posture, and attitude, on the part of those who wear them.
It's a pick and choose at the spring / summer collections: Tom Ford's hot pants, Thierry Mueller's bodycon dresses, Loewe's transparencies (and Molly Goddard's, and Simone Rocha's, and Nina Ricci's, and Helmut Lang’s and Dolce & Gabbana’s), the vertiginous slits of JW Anderson and Off White, the lingerie with dominatrix overtones of Olivier Theyskens ... Have we seen this before? It's possible. But now we see it from a different point of view. We continue to have sensitivity and common sense. Only now we have a power that we didn't previously have. That's why all of this is so refreshing. And so liberating. And so sexy.
Artigo originalmente publicado na edição de abril de 2020 da Vogue Portugal.
This article was originally published in Vogue Portugal's Freedom issue, from April 2020.
Para ler este artigo em português, veja a edição de Liberdade da Vogue Portugal.