Prince sang “sometimes it snows in April”, and last week it did — a year to the day of the purple one’s passing — promptly propelling style plates into a state of intense discombobulation.
Immediately questions were raised. Do bare legs still look good when they turn a deathly shade of blue? Is a winter puffer worn with a pair of Birkenstocks and a (fresh new) pedi a crime against fashion or an inspired survival mechanism? One blast of cold weather and we — a collective of smart, weather-worn women who arguably should have known better than to assume that one lowly swallow (ie that balmy weekend before Easter) had made it summer — were in a state of disarray.
The result was a delay on the great annual retail phenomenon unofficially known as “the dress dash” and a halt on a two-week spell of hot retail activity during which our favourite high-street hangouts sell more floaty spring frocks than at any other time of year.
Thankfully, with temperatures back on the climb and May Day now behind us, normal service can resume. In essence, spring has sprung and this time there’s no going back.
For the high street, which lay in wait while spring endured its own identity crisis last week, the onset of the season spells interesting times ahead. Notably because the day dress, in all its brave, bold, feminine glory, is finally back en vogue. Having suffered at the hands of mid-season separates — see sawn-off jeans, ankle-length cigarette pants, oversized striped shirts and an unrelenting appetite for athleisure — the day dress had fallen out of favour with some of the capital’s snappiest dressers.
Its demise, in part thanks to the fact that women battling with 21st-century sexism were unconvinced that a yellow floral print tea dress was appropriate attire in which to embark on a personal protest, has since been flipped on its head with more and more of us coming around to the idea that femininity in its most typical and clichéd state can be just as empowering as any of Hillary Clinton’s trouser suits.
At her show in Milan in February, Miuccia Prada was convinced by precisely this idea, citing the notion of seduction and its place in a feminist society as the starting point for her autumn/winter showcase, due in stores later this year.
Ever the trailblazer, Prada’s latest take on feminist attire bypassed the pussy power beanies and slogan sweaters that have become synonymous with our collective crusade this year and instead focused on soft touches. Her vision — classic feminine shapes and textures juxtaposed with contemporary details and awkward edgy twists — was Prada’s way of exploring the idea of an overtly feminist aesthetic as a negative tool.
“My question is about feminism and this idea that it’s stupid to be seductive,” said the Italian designer after her show. In an instant, with a vision of Prada’s scarlet mohair cocktail gown hanging heavy in their minds, the women of the fashion world fell back in love with a breed of femininity that is entirely unapologetic.
A high street that’s awash with dresses to be worn to work, eat and live in is the result of this, with more and more of us returning to the one-piece as a viable everyday dressing solution. The dress’s image overhaul is, of course, assisted by its practically. In a day and age when none of us seems to have any spare time, an item that takes 60 seconds or less to get on and out of the door makes a whole lot of sense. If you want to make your spring as straightforward as possible, invest in as many as possible.