Ribbons, Ruffles & Roses: Fashion is Falling Back in Love

There was corsetry and ruffles in varying latex, leathers and silks flying around Paris, New York, Berlin, and Milan this past month. Long ribboned hair, film noir cinema, long-stemmed roses, and mascara-stained eyes erring on corpse paint… so many forms of romance, in all its varying degrees of softness and dramatic theatrics.

It was inevitable for fashion to arise again in a form of Escapism, after so many past seasons of mud and revolt and its needs and expectations; after so much acceptance of awkward digital dystopias interloping the runways and our lives, after a string of collections and trends displaying refusal and its invulnerable armours, with quiet luxury and ‘sad beige’ serving as our lacklustre inspirations.

The world needs a little more romance, beauty for beauty sake, and a bit of poetic justice… If not that, what else is left?

Gestures and symbols of love were ever-present: long-stemmed roses were in both runways of Galliano and Ludovic de Saint Sernin. Simone Rocha had models carry silver-dipped roses, wearing long ribbons and (Illuminati-embroidered) gowns, while a number of Ludovic’s garments featured a singular screen-printed flower by New York photographer Richard Mapplethorp, perhaps a gesture of love to his NYC debut, as this was Ludovic’s first collection shown outside of Paris.

Even alternative Berlin’s notorious black palette was turned surprisingly emotional and femme: Dennis Chueng’s mascara-drenched make up looks were reminiscent of post-break up warpaint. “I’m documenting my emotions through apparel, craftsmanship and storytelling,” says Chueng. “Every piece of clothing is inevitably connected to me and my inner self.” The next day, Bobkova’s runway was graced with flowing bohemian dresses, voluminous layers and A-line skirts, while Richert Beil’s 10th anniversary collection entitled “Heritage” took on its own form of romance with humor and nostalgia, and a diverse intergenerational casting.

In New York, Elena Velez hosted an opulent salon gathering to reveal a 7 look collection comprised of Victorian hyper-ruffled gowns (not *yet sullied) and varying heights of accompanying leather gloves and adornments, inspired by the literary character Scarlett O’Hara. The night of the show, she made a statement on her Instagram: “The theme of this evening was about a complex female character whose pathological remains are alive and well in 2024. On a higher level, it’s an insistence on creating art without being moralized for the political contexts within the works you may draw creative references from.”

And we would be remiss not to revisit the couture Margiela show set in the City of Love, conceived by Galliano, featuring a film noir opus, tightly corseted men, and debatably some of the best beauty looks of the decade, courtesy of Pat McGrath, which caused thousands of beauty sleuths to experiment with finding their own hyper-glossy porcelain skin techniques (spoiler alert: it’s an airbrushed layer of a cheap peel-off face mask.)

The antidote to an era of grunge and streetwear and quiet luxury may very well be a leaning into the lightness of love and the drama of romance: from sheer fabrics and lace detailing, ballet flats and layered baubles of nostalgia, from runways to coquette TikTok tutorials, romance is blossoming and we are here for it. It’s been a brutal year for fashion (not to mention the rest of the world’s turnings) but the arrival of long-forgotten saccharine silhouettes and flowery motifs may have even the strictest of legging lovers and bodycon babes eager to slide into some rose-colored glasses for a while…

*Header: Simone Rocha’s collection for Jean Paul Gaultier at PFW