Each new fashion season brings fresh looks and ideas. But the fall 2012 collections—which wrapped last week in Paris—introduced a new silhouette that’s determined to (literally) extend the shapely benefits of womanhood.
This season, the runways were covered with big hips. Designers in New York, London, Milan, and Paris showed clothes that ranged from slightly curvy to downright hippy in their fall collections. The massive hips were everywhere— from Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Jacobs, Comme des Garçons, and more. While this newfound flair for curvature appears to be a celebration of the female form, it remains to be seen whether real women—those who already have a pair of hips—will choose to further exaggerate their form with these hippy fashions next fall.
“The emphasis on the hip is as important as the discussion of hemlines throughout time,” explains Michael Fink, dean of the school of fashion design at the Savannah College of Art and Design, who is the former women’s fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue. “We’re coming out of a very minimalistic time [in fashion] where everything was very straight and masculine. We’re moving away from hiding a woman’s body, and one of the ways you get that is by providing a shape, by carving it out of the hip.”
Merchandisers are picking up on the trend too. “I think the curvy coats work amazingly well, as it gives you a very strong and powerful silhouette on the streets, but you could be wearing skinny jeans underneath,” explained Laure Heriard Dubreuil, co-owner of the Webster, a Miami boutique where, come fall, hip-baring shapes will abound on racks.
Hips this season spanned from light-handed flourishes to shapes so wide that they could knock someone over as you pass them on the street. New York–based designer Thakoon Panichgul was one designer who took to the idea, creating a pared-down version for his show last month. “There was something fresh about this silhouette … it’s a thought process, an idea. I think that it adjusts the eye,” he explained.
But at its most fully realized moments the trend recalls Marie Antoinette. Marc Jacobs’s Edwardian collection included leather corsets that jutted outward in a dark riff on Rococo splendor. At Rochas in Paris, the effect was softer, as evening skirts were fabricated of a pottery-inspired print, each extending far beyond the natural form. And at Comme des Garçons, Rei Kawakubo designed wide pants with exaggerated hips that seemed to create a two-dimensional effect.
There were intermediates too—like at Stella McCartney, where a sweater dress stiffly jutted from a clean-cut ensemble. And at shows such as Lanvin and Yohji Yamamoto, evening attire grew wide beneath a tightly drawn waist.
It was Marc Jacobs’s designs for Louis Vuitton, though, that solved the issue of wearability, with clothes that gracefully plumed into a bell shape. “Are many women going to do pannier-inspired silhouettes?” Fink asks. “Probably not, but there is a simple means in Marc Jacobs’s [for Louis Vuitton] silhouettes that drop right below the bust line. That is a beautiful, gracious, complimentary shape for a wide variety of body shapes.”