There seems to be something of a style renaissance at London Fashion Week—quite literally. Designers are borrowing from the era of cultural and artistic rebirth that followed the Middle Ages, taking the most notable styles of that period and overhauling them for the modern 21st century.
Take, for example, Peter Pilotto who proved his dedication to the Juliet sleeve—a style that, yes, harkens back to Shakespeare’s most famous heroine—with almost every look in the show. The Juliet style sleeve is known for a billowing fabric that bursts out from the shoulder and is fastened tightly around the wrist with a cuff, creating an easy and voluminous silhouette.
Women who wore these types of sleeves were unable to perform manual labor, due to the excess fabric, and thus this style became a sign of wealth and high stature. During the Renaissance Era, sleeves were often detachable and were given as gifts from grooms to their new wives.
Pilotto also offered intricate lace versions that ballooned out in a generous pouf from fitted satin dresses that were finished with a flounce. On a silk patterned blouse, the capacious shape was edged with marabou feathers in hues of lavender and cantaloupe, adding a punkish touch to the historic design. For those who find themselves skeptical of jumping headfirst into the trend, there were one-shouldered frocks and tops in shades of rust or chartreuse, which cleverly contrasted one Juliet sleeve against a bare arm.
Molly Goddard similarly delivered on fantastically flouncy Juliet sleeves, offering them up in a pouf of hot pink and pale yellow tulle. These iterations were actually very similar to those found during Shakespeare’s era, especially with the banded detail that ran down the arm. Even Riccardo Tisci took a stab at the sleeve at Burberry, offering his deconstructed iteration in a monochromatic color scheme with a cutout details and an off-the-shoulder neckline.
But perhaps the most dramatic Juliet sleeve of London Fashion Week was seen at JW Anderson, in the form of a plaid-accented trench coat. The billowing khaki sleeves were supersized and finished off with an equally substantial cuff. Surely Shakespeare would approve of designer Jonathan Anderson’s dramatic effect.
The neck ruff took center stage at Erdem, adorning frilly lace frocks in shocking lipstick red and silk floral dresses alike. Albeit not quite as elaborate as the collars worn by Queen Elizabeth I in the 16th century, Erdem Moralioglu’s interpretation were made from delicate wisps of the same fabric that his dresses were designed in.
Ruffs were originally intended to be a simple collar but eventually morphed into a much more involved accessory that was heavily starched and often served as a status symbol—especially as the size of the neck adornment increased and women needed to use wire frames to hold them up.
At Roksanda the ruffs were even more historically accurate, but were delivered in shocking doses of hot pink and black. Nestled within the layers of ruffles were marabou feathers, which added a delightfully light touch.
The most futuristic take on the ruff was seen at Mary Katrantzou, who emblazoned another one of her signature trippy prints on the centuries-old style. Even the scarves she sent down the runway, which tumbled down models’ ensembles in a tangle of ruffles, seemed to be a nod to the neck accessory.END
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