Mini me

Hem­lines are on the rise, but their leg-flash­ing lengths aren’t just for the young,

VOGUE Australia - - Vogue Mood - Says Zara Wong.

Afew years back, be­fore An­thony Vac­carello was named cre­ative di­rec­tor at Yves Saint Lau­rent, I com­mented that his de­signs, with the slits up above the hip­bone and hem­lines skirt­ing the up­per parts of the thigh, were de­cid­edly sexy. “No, not sexy,” he said in sur­prise, ex­plain­ing that he cut them that way to make it eas­ier for the wo­man to move. Old habits die hard, I see, when his de­but for Yves Saint Lau­rent for the spring/sum­mer ’17 sea­son had women swing by in liq­uid me­tal­lic skirts hitched up to the waist with swathes of leather sit­ting high on the leg.

You’d think by now we’d be used to skin­bar­ing ways. The num­ber of cen­time­tres in skirt lengths should not have a di­rect re­la­tion­ship to the level of ma­tu­rity, se­ri­ous­ness or in­tel­li­gence. “I was wor­ried that if I looked too fem­i­nine, I would not be taken se­ri­ously. I re­ally wanted to wear my shiny lip gloss and my girlie skirt, but I de­cided not to,” wrote Chi­ma­manda Ngozi Adichie in We Should All Be Fem­i­nists. “Many of us think that the less fem­i­nine a wo­man ap­pears, the more likely she is to be taken se­ri­ously.” Dress­ing with a sense of one’s own form should be an ex­ten­sion of power.

The eu­phemistic term “age-ap­pro­pri­ate” is re­ally about what you should and shouldn’t wear as you get older. In my teens and early 20s I would shorten dresses and mimic Proenza Schouler run­way looks from clothes that came from my mother’s quite fan­tas­tic 80s and early 90s-era closet. See­ing peers in the fash­ion in­dus­try as they pro­gressed from in­terns and as­sis­tants to ed­i­tors and man­agers swap their mi­nis for midis and trousers was a way to chart their re­la­tion­ship with age-ap­pro­pri­ate dress­ing.

But if fash­ion teaches you one thing, it’s to stick to what works for you. We all have our per­sonal body gripes – my own ge­netic dis­po­si­tion doesn’t lean to­wards any­thing with a midriff fo­cus. The one rule to break is that of never wear­ing the same trend twice. Let me ex­plain: if you wore mi­nis in your 20s or 30s, it’s worth re­vis­it­ing now, but rein­tro­duce the look with a slight tweak. These days I no longer wear my Luella Bart­ley mi­cro-mi­nis with­out the safety of opaque tights, and en­sure that I bal­ance the rest of the out­fit: boots or strate­gi­cally cho­sen heels (keep the stilet­tos-and-mini combo for night) and a looser shape on top.

Even on days when I ques­tion my favoured short length, there is still Ju­lianne Moore wear­ing a Tom Ford thigh-graz­ing shim­mery dress with aplomb or Jen­nifer Lopez in myr­iad mini-skirt op­tions to look to. And I think of He­len Gur­ley Brown, who wore miniskirts well into her 80s. All beau­ti­ful women in their own right, but far from the typ­i­cal 180-cen­time­tre su­per­mod­els who are held up as ex­am­ples for 40-plus mini-skirt wear­ers.

And don’t for­get, fash­ion is only in­ter­est­ing when it’s di­vi­sive. Trends can be a lit­tle bor­ing, and for ev­ery per­son who groans when it’s her­alded that the mini is back, an­other one is rum­mag­ing through her closet in glee.

Dorothy Parker once quipped: “If you wear a short enough skirt, the party will come to you.” On the run­way, skirts went from a few fin­gers above the knee to nary a hand-span be­low the waist, a length that one would ad­vise are for ex­perts only, and for the most part are run­way show-ex­clu­sives any­way. For al­ter­na­tives, look to Louis Vuit­ton for el­e­gant A-line shapes, or Gi­amba for la­dy­like pret­ti­ness – the softer hems are more for­giv­ing. As Vac­carello said to me af­ter the show: “I guess be­cause of the length, when the wo­man does put on heels it is like: ‘Oh, wow.’” That power play from one iden­tity to an­other: isn’t it sat­is­fy­ing to be the bearer of such a swift trans­for­ma­tion?

Back­stage at Gi­amba.

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