victoria beckham and jonathan saunders create new visions of female power at nyfw
Victoria Beckham spring/summer 17
There's something about the shows in New York that always makes you think of businesswomen. It's possibly Melanie Griffith's doing — that's a Working Girl reference, FYI — but much more so here than in any other fashion capital womenswear seems to mean business. That's why Victoria Beckham, mother of girl power, shows her collection here and why backstage after her fantastic show, she instantly got a question about when exactly she's going to dress Theresa May. "We'll see," Beckham smiled coyly. "She has a great body and she loves dresses, so I think there's lots of pieces in the collection that she'd like." That was the truth and a half. As far as the new business uniform goes — the one that's developing in a new world of female leaders — Beckham hit the nail on the head. Dresses had a necessary formal attitude about them, but one that dared to be sexy, heavy on the hem and light on the shoulder. She worked traditional fabrics and worked them hard, summerifying otherwise wintery institutions such as velvet by "washing them, crushing them, pleating them, and smocking them to make them feel new and fresh," she said, ever the lyricist.
Those last two superlatives were her words of the season and it showed in a collection focused on the lightweight. "I love the summer boot," Beckham declared, referring to the boots that appeared throughout the show. "I can't remember the last time I saw a summer boot that was cool and looked light and felt new and fresh. That feels very new to me for summer. I'm really excited to wear that boot." If anything, her frank excitement reflected the future businesswoman's approach to the working wardrobe where the boardroom is no longer synonymous with a mannish grey trouser suit, and femininity isn't something you're advised to hide. "We're putting the bras underneath to make it feel really, really feminine," Beckham said of the collection's bra tops. Seemingly overnight, the impeccably dressed Theresa May became the spokeswoman for that attitude, but it was the idea of dressing her American counterpart that truly got this designer excited. "Oh! I would love to dress her!" Beckham said when i-D changed the subject to Hillary Clinton. "She's going to go right for the high-waisted pant," she quipped. "I mean, I would hope so!" As for their German colleague, Beckham had a crushed velvet suit with Angela Merkel's name on it.
What better house to illustrate just how much the women's boardroom uniform has changed than Diane von Furstenberg, who based her brand on giving women versatility in their wardrobe in the first place. "It has that effortless sense of ease but with imagination," Jonathan Saunders said at the presentation of his beautiful debut collection for the house. "I think that's in line with how people dress these days." Judging from the reactions of the female editors present — a wide representation of types and tastes — his fusion of dress codes was a runaway hit. Light, ladylike dresses were approached with formal architectural structure, then given the sumptuous, sexy glamour that so defines DVF. But above all, it had the ease that seems to be the keyword for the new businesswoman. "She created these effortless pieces for a women, who didn't want fuss but still wanted pieces that had been designed with an element of imagination," Saunders said of his new boss, von Furstenberg, who's still a part of the company. "It wasn't a black dress. There was a sense of flair and fun." Like Beckham's proposals, Saunders' vision for the career women of the Clinton/Merkel/May era wasn't some loud, provocative statement, and that's exactly what made that effortless fusion of formal, sexy, easy, glamorous and functional so powerful. In this business era, women can wear what they want.
Text Anders Christian Madsen