Body-on-body: how corporeality is key for fashion

The past fashion month, all eyes were on Coperni’s mesh LBDs or LaQuan Smith’s clever cut-outs. Designers are showing more and more body – we’ve all seen it. Yet, an alternative world spreads within the fashion realm: a dimension where fabrics don’t become thinner and thinner, but more and more complex. Welcome to the newest body-inspired trend where designers create corporeal shapes, the more bizarre or exaggerated, the better.

High tension, high fashion

The body has been important to fashion and haute couture for a long time. The nature of hand-crafted elements demands some form of body-awareness, yet the human form itself has also inspired creatives. A quick look at iconic Schiaparelli’s elongated gloves or the pointy bras from AW22 collection can assure you that designers are thinking in 3D.

 

 

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Post udostępniony przez LOEWE (@loewe)

Loewe’s AW22 show. Credit: brand’s Instagram. 

The sole shoe design at Jonathan Anderson’s Loewe AW22 exposed the main themes of the collection.  However, globular, inflatable-like pumpkins could not prepare the gathered fashion crowd for what was coming. Latex stretched to the maximum, exaggerated lip-like, bloody-red structures replacing the tops… Moulin Rouge, version 2080, has arrived.

The only road leads inwards

However, high fashion always demanded a bit of madness. One could ask, are smaller brands also engaging in this new corporeality? Well, look at Grace Ling, New York-based designer, whose body-inspired bags have been a recent favourite of the likes of J Lo. Ling’s biggest hit, subtly named Butt Bag, does not leave much to the imagination, but adds a lot of spice.

 

Photo by Grace Ling. Credit: brand’s Instagram.

Surrealism is also not a foreigner to the designer duo Holy Spells. Created by sisters Adriana ‘Odri’ Tsirka and Natalya ‘Netali’ Tsirka, who started designing about a year ago, the brand picks up on the trend.  At the beginning they focused on up-cycling headstock and trash – think broken dolls and rags – that they found on the streets of Warsaw. However, their new creations focus on bodily elements. “We approach our projects in a sensory way,” Netali told me. And that is visible: their clothes and accessories are sensual, pastel, soft. Their tops feature three breasts sewn from satin, and their most popular items – bags – proudly present velvet, organic structures.

 

 

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Post udostępniony przez HOLY SPELLS (@holy.spells)

Holy Spells video. Credit: brand’s Instagram.

The duo comes from Lviv, in Ukraine which is currently in conflict with Russian forces. One could risk a claim that coming back to the body can be a way to cope with reality. Blurry mindfulness slogans may not be appropriate in times of war. However, taking care of the needs of your body is often listed as a first element in psychotherapy.

New Year, New Image

The new trend may also stem from the collective experience of the pandemic. “When many of us were locked down at home, we became even more screen-centric and the image of the body, rather than the ‘actual body’, dominated,” says Dr Lezley George, Cultural and Historical Studies professor at the London College of Fashion. Tired of seeing the same size zero silhouettes everywhere? It seems that garments that present the body in a surrealist, exaggerated way, may have more meaning.

Dr George claims that the focus on the ideal body during the pandemic has left its mark on fashion. “This perpetuated and amplified existing anxieties around fashioned body ideals, but also created more space for discussions around inclusivity and body types. Fashion is reflecting these debates, and now with a return to real world fashion experiences, I hope these conversations around bodies and inclusivity will remain important to designers, brands and fashion media,” says the professor.

Odri and Netali also place emphasis on that inclusivity aspects, however, they uncover another layer of meaning, this time, connoted with more individual, sensory level of acceptance. “For us, the creations are a way to explore your own body and to learn something about it. Body forces different reactions, it tells stories, it has its secrets,” says Netali.

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