At a recent student showcase at New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology — which counts Calvin Klein and Nanette Lepore as alumni — the runway looks were far from amateurish. Many, in fact, were on the frontier of fashion’s latest trends.
Take, for example, one by Sylvie Rood, a senior specializing in sportswear who will graduate this year. At the May 8 Future of Fashion Runway Show, Rood presented a charcoal-color wool coat with neon detailing that was reminiscent of lingerie, including both underwire and panty outlines. The design was inspired by surrealist artist René Magritte, Rood says, and was meant to be a vehicle for female empowerment.
“I hope that in this look a woman truly feels that she is owning her sexuality and embracing her curves,” Rood tells Yahoo Style in an email. “There are other aspects of the coat that I believe hold much more symbolic meaning, such as the two intertwining female figures on the back of the coat. Here, there are two torsos but only one set of legs. I think that in this day and age, all people need to unite and come together and especially as women we need to become one and use our voice to create change.”
Other designers have picked up on the underwire-as-outerwire trend too. Bella Hadid was recently photographed wearing an Orseund Iris sweater, created by the young brand’s designer, Alana Johnson. Johnson’s work has become incredibly popular with the Instagram fashion set, with her structured corset tops seen on Influencers like Leandra Medine and Emily Ratajkowski.
“As a woman, I personally believe in empowering others, and I believe from the feedback I have received from my customers, they do feel more confident in my clothing,” Johnson tells Yahoo Style (see her initial prototype here). “I love the subtle detail of accentuating the bust without sexualizing the female body.”
If statement T-shirts were winter’s sartorial feminist statement of choice, the underwire-as-outerwire look must be the latest iteration, moving beyond the corset belt and top trend that emerged over the last year (and may be an evolution of the social media waist-trainer craze of 2014). According to Polyvore, searches for corset belts have skyrocketed 1,033 percent since November 2015.
For all the talk of underwire and corsets, the trend is remarkably freeing.
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Alexandra Mondalek is a writer for Yahoo Style + Beauty. Follow her on Twitter @amondalek.