Now Trending: Life AquaticPosted by Julia Neel
As far as fashion moments go, Florence Welch – looking not unlike Ariel from The Little Mermaid – rising from a giant clam shell to sing live on the Chanel catwalk is a big one. And one that marked high tide on the wave of underwater motifs that surfaced during the spring/summer 2012 shows.
Yes, there’s definitely something fishy going on this season – in an un-eyebrow-raising way, that is. Mary Katrantzou, in London, put her signature photographic prints to work, capturing shoals of neon bright tropical fish darting across bodices, through forests of startlingly bright sea foliage.
Holly Fulton applied her maximalist tendencies to cheerfully tacky minidresses with cockle shells printed at the hem and trousers whose legs ended in beds of coral. And the underwater love continued at Versace, where golden starfish and shells were studded into white leather pencil skirts and flirty mermaids danced among watercoloured molluscs.
The Grand Palais in Paris, meanwhile, was transformed into a magical underwater playground, with bleach-white sand, giant seahorses and clams for the Chanel show. It was into this aquatic fairy tale that Karl Lagerfeld sent his pretty sea nymphs, who wore iridescent sequinned dresses that ended in foamy sea green ostrich feathers, jellyfish tulle skirts, lace spume on dainty jackets and pearls in their hair. His little mermaids wore sea anemone rings and carried conch shells as clutches.
At McQueen, Sarah Burton was inspired by Gaia, the Ancient Greek embodiment of nature. This translated into a majestic ode to oceanic life with metallic jacquards in a barnacle pattern, shimmering mother of pearl finishes on the swell of peplums, oyster prints on silk chiffon, shell and coral details and ruffles that moved like jellyfish.
So how to wear it? Well, Katrantzou and Fulton’s out-there prints are begging to be clashed with one of Stella McCartney’s Hawaiian separates for this season’s zany pattern-on-pattern look. But the gentler currents at play elsewhere call for a lighter touch: anemone tendrils of billowing chiffon in shades of the palest aqua and coral are perfect for summer’s flood of parties, but need a seriously strappy sandal (à la McQueen) or a fierce boot to keep the look from floating too much into the froth.
Otherwise, drift off into a world of fishtail hemlines and wave-making peplums, or wrap yourself in one of Mark Fast’s fishing net dresses for that touch of shipwreck chic. For a fiercer accent, Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy hung sharks’ teeth pendants around his models’ necks. God help us if they were made to scale.
See our pick of underwater-inspired wears here.
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