Fashion & Shopping

Fashion Gone Rouge

October 18, 2017

Paris, home to can’t-eat-just-one pastries, the Tour Eiffel and, lucky for me, a sister with a spare room. With every trip to my darling sis’ adopted home, I do my best to capture a petit morceau of the ever-admired and seemingly effortless sense of Parisian chic. This time, my investigation led me directly to one of French fashion’s legendary forefathers: Christian Dior.


At the Musée des Arts Décoratifs’ Couturier du Rêve exhibit, I learned that Dior’s vision was, ultimately, to capture that “meticulous elegance” frequently associated with French- girl style. In doing so, he described “Dior Red” as one of his core palette, celebrating its ability to “dress women’s smiles.” But, back then, a crimson lip held a certain signi cance that might be lost on us today. Now, we must be more brazen with our message—perhaps why, last fall, Dior artistic director Maria Grazia Chiuri sent models strutting down the catwalk with “We Should All Be Feminists” emblazoned across their chests.

It was, however, well before any Dior show that the Suffragettes cemented the political sentiment behind a bold red lip, choosing it as a statement of their unified feminism to protest for the female vote in 1912. It’s no coincidence then, that women around the world banded together wearing red on International Women’s Day in March. And, simultaneously, why nearly every designer of note (like Max Mara) presented stunning red looks at the FW 2017 shows.


For Nordstrom event, marketing and public relations director Veronica Bailey, Givenchy’s collection stood out in this crimson vein by revisiting silhouettes from the past 12 years in an all-red collection. “Red,” Bailey confirmed, “is officially the colour of the fall. It says, ‘Here I am!’ It’s a colour of confidence, it’s strong and it’s bold.” In other words, say bonjour to a new era of power dressing that’s less Mother Nature, more Mother of Dragons.

At Simons, co-owner and vice-president of merchandising Richard Simons agreed, pointing to his company’s own in-house NV Collection as a way to incorporate the red trend into our own closets. “While the use of red is a defining factor throughout the collection, the total head-to-toe red suiting is by far my favourite look,” he said. “A double-breasted, slightly oversized blazer paired with a wide-leg crop pant is spot on. After all, power dressing is all about the suit.” (On that note, it’s definitely worth checking out the retailer’s Girl Boss capsule, which, he said, “represents a powerful, modern and determined woman.”)


Going beyond colour, Nicole Bischofer, head of womenswear design at COS, also links power dressing to tailoring. Not only has COS adopted red as an everyday neutral, it has also “blown up proportions of details like lapels, cuffs and vents to recreate modern tailoring.” And, over at Marc Cain, the current collection, too, offers a beautiful interpretation of the cherry craze, showcasing the same head-to-toe red esthetic seen on the runways.

According to Marc Cain creative director Karin Veit, this season, “strong colours like fire-red are worn monochrome and emphasize the clean-cut silhouettes.” She suggests mixing up an all-cerise look with textures like velvet, lurex, tulle and chiffon to ensure “a feminine touch.” Veit also shared her one “big secret” when it comes to colour: “You should always feel comfortable in your outfit. Then you have that certain charisma and you look authentic.”


Of course, you don’t need a full flaming ensemble to pull off the look. Bailey suggests Givenchy’s red wool-blend pea coat, which “allows you to make a statement while still being practical.” Or, as Charlotte Austin, content and editorial manager at fashion search engine pointed out, it’s “the perfect colour to incorporate into a fall/winter wardrobe as it cuts through black and grey staples in the same way a red lip does a little black dress.”

If you’re feeling autumnally adventurous, Simons encourages more “avant-garde combinations”—like red with burgundy, white, olive or light blue. He also noted the red-white- and-blue trend seen with the resurgence of brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Champion and Courrèges and hinted that the red trend will likely continue into spring and summer via the “deadly” combination of red with fuchsia—two hues that, in the past, were considered clashing.


While we are on board with incorporating a smart red blazer into our next-summer getups, Simons said that, in fact, “the strength of red for fall 2017 will be felt in accessories, especially in boots and shoes.” Austin agreed, adding that knitwear will also have a big impact.

So tap your ruby-soled Louboutins together three times, because we’re not in Paris any more. This is not frivolous fashion—it’s about making a statement … and not just about our style credentials. It’s like unashamedly wearing our (red) hearts on our sleeves. We’re giving this trend a big, scarlet, letter “A” for attitude, for audacity—and, admittedly, to say a sweet au revoir to the millennial pink of yore. —Tori Macnab


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