Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Fashion that 'hints of the home'

Reading a review of Stella MacCartney's S/S 12 collection in the NY Times, I was struck by the following statement:
Ms. McCartney also does not have that designer problem of reducing a woman’s life to one or two moments: work, a fancy party. She also makes outfits that strongly hint of home, like a piped pajama shirt worn with a matching foulard-dot pantsuit, or a loose sweater or easy all-in-one to wear to a casual dinner.
- Caryn Horyn, NY Times

It made me think of this clip from 1946, which i found on the British Pathe film online archive, (an amazing source for old fashion clips and presentations).


As amusing as it might be, there is something very oppressive about the image of these ladies prancing around in latest fashions in a purely domestic setting (the phrase 'all dressed up with nowhere to go' comes to mind!). The narrator's comments on the 'orchid stones- the earmark of a woman who always wins' and the tailored jacket 'for the man eating woman' sound kind of sarcastic and rather darkly reinforce their trapped existence within a very limited domestic sphere. Never has fashion so strongly appeared to be a medium through which to dream, as the women flick through magazines and float around, posing for each other.

Watching this clip made me realise what an important and significant thing it is for women's fashion to no longer speak of only one dimension. As Cathy Horyn says of Stella MacCartney's collection, its important for designers to recognise that women don't dress for merely one or two contexts. I would be wary of celebrating the return of fashion to clothes that 'hint of the home' and think we should appreciate what an important step it was for women to move out of the home, onto the catwalk and start presenting themselves in clothes which they would be wearing out at parties, in the workplace and not just in a domestic setting.

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