Paradoxically, most designers of the largest fashion houses are men, meaning the clothes we wear and the trends we follow are established by male figures. Yet, there’s a new wave of female designers opening labels aimed at the STRONG, powerful and sensual woman. She heads boardroom meetings, takes the lead in her career and personal life, and believes POWER dressing need not mean a masculine suit. Instead, embracing femininity and highlighting her STRENGTH in a subtle but arresting manner is the modus operandi.
The Colombian designer is a game changer, with a feminine aesthetic that embodies strength and power, and commands a certain attitude. Her Fall/Winter 2015 collection was inspired by the principles of Japanese art and origami. There was a sculptural precision in layering, folding, and a subtle equilibrium in silhouettes and proportions. Men’s shirts were wrapped and layered around the waist and shoulders, or thrown on in a nonchalant way, yet skirts remained polished and neatly draped, presenting a high-low mix.
“I imagine that the women I design for are POWERFUL and strong. They mix the sex appeal and femininity of Brigitte Bardot with the elegance of Jackie O. It’s a BALANCING act.”
She embraces the feminine, bold and graphic, and doesn’t shy away from unexpected colour-blocking and contrast, spearheading an evolution in power dressing codes. Her book of rules states that maximum impact upon entering a room will be achieved through the most obvious methods: shape and colour. Silhouettes are slightly underscored, and colour combinations are retina-searing. Let’s throw away our pantsuits and embrace draped A-line dresses in eye-popping hues.
“I do feel that it’s important to establish a new type of ELEGANCE, a modern elegance: not something that is repeating what already happened in the past, but something that is relevant to our time, that feels fresh and somehow DIFFERENT.”
The Russian designer’s approach to power dressing is a more delicate one, albeit just as strong. The power element lies in the subtlety of the affair. There’s whimsy shirts, sculptural demi-couture draping and textiles, hand stitched embroidery, and slightly exaggerated proportions – just the right amount for the clothing to say “I may look like an ingénue, but subtlety and strength aren’t mutually exclusive.”
“I design for a SELF-SUFFICIENT perfectionist who knows EXACTLY what she wants.”
Her clothing is modern and uncomplicated, and above all differentiated by the quality of the pieces. Therein lies the concept of power dressing: it’s less about strong silhouettes as it is about the luxurious, exclusive and understated. The asymmetric cotton-poplin tops and wrap shirts will take you from day to night in a heartbeat, while the subdued hues and languidly structured pieces from her AW15 collection reflect just that: a laid-back attitude towards life. Why rush, stress, and succumb to the fast-paced nature of life, when you can slow down and enjoy the fleeting moments.
“I wanted to tell the STORY about me and women like me and dressing for the lifestyle of a mother, of a working woman, of somebody that has to do a lot in one DAY—the woman who has to show up for a lot of occasions in 12 hours.”
PROTAGONIST by Kate Wendelborn
Wendelborn elevates the modern-day minimalist dress codes, letting the woman wearing the clothes shine through in her best light. The collections are made for a certain type of woman — the Caroline Bessette-Kennedy — who is artfully laid-back, and favours a sophisticated uniform; she knows her style. Her power lies in her refined subtlety, and an ability to strike the balance between restraint and distinction. She may just be your heroine.
“[The Protagonist woman] is very CONFIDENT, self-aware and humble. She doesn’t always have to make herself the center of attention (although she can), she has a strong sense of self and I think people are drawn to her for that. She makes her real life a PRIORITY not a fantasy world. She’s practical and passionate.”