The Miniskirt Makes a Comeback
It started as a spring drizzle, then runways with clothes for fall became flooded with them. Miniskirts in all styles -- mod, flirty, kicky, sporty and even formal -- signaled that hemlines are emerging shorter than they've been in years.
They're coming from designers at fashion's forefront -- Hedi Slimane's sultry Saint Laurent, Euro-posh Giambattista Valli, Dior's Raf Simons, casual-chic Isabel Marant -- suggesting this is the tip of a wave. In his debut at Louis Vuitton, Nicolas Ghesquiere bet the bank on slim minis.
Gucci designer Frida Giannini signaled the seriousness of her intent to go mini by devoting the final look in her Fall 2014 show, a position that is often reserved for important evening gowns or bridal dresses, to an ultra short hemline.
The look is youthful and modern with a hint of '60s retro coed.
'My haute couture was all legs, legs, legs,' says Mr. Valli of his exclusive made-to-measure collection. He notes that he hoped to underline his label's appeal to the growing number of younger couture clients. He did minis for his ready-to-wear collection as well, calling the look 'young and fresh.'
News of the mini's return is likely to be met with cheers in some corners and groans in others. The young and leggy -- and their admirers -- often view the look favorably. Others prefer more coverage.
But these days, fashion is all about choice. No hemline is obligatory. Ultra-trendy retailer Opening Ceremony, for example, sells its skirts and dresses in three categories: mini, midi, and maxi.
For the current season, the mini is likely to mainly appeal to fashion's early adopters. The look is new, calling to mind Goldie Hawn in her 'Laugh-In' days, and contrasts starkly with the longer, ladylike trends of recent seasons.
Some mainstream retailers say they plan to watch the mini for a season or two before investing heavily. 'I wouldn't say it was the trend we called out,' says Brooke Jaffe, fashion director of Bloomingdale's. The department store is mostly focused on skirt lengths just below the knee, she says. Bloomingdale's, owned by Macy's, Inc., will stock some minis, such as Ms. Marant's embellished versions, for 'off-hours' wear.
'There are people in the industry that are ones to watch,' says Ms. Jaffe, listing Mr. Simons, Mr. Ghesquiere and Mr. Slimane among others. 'I take it as an indication of things to come -- but not at this minute.'
Minis are no longer the revolutionary fashion they were when they were introduced 50-some years ago. And no longer relegated only to younger wearers, the new mini trend can be worn by anyone who feels they have the legs for it -- some of whom may have worn them years ago.
Margo Barbakow was married in a white minidress at the Waldorf Astoria towers in 1970 in New York City.
'My mother called it my 'wedding blouse,' ' recalls Ms. Barbakow. 'I fought like hell to get her to let me buy that dress.'
Now 66 years old and living in Santa Barbara, Calif., Ms. Barbakow says her skirts won't rise higher than just-above-the-knee this time around. Fortunately, she says, she recently lost 18 pounds. 'I feel better about showing my legs now -- with enough self-tanning cream,' she says.
Like firecrackers and some children's toys, many miniskirts should come with warnings on their hang tags. Office workers: Beware clothing with virtually no room for error. If you have to yank the skirt down when rising from your seat, you're likely distracting yourself and others. Test this in the dressing room before you buy. Sit down, wiggle, and stand up three times. If the skirt requires coaching to stay in place, try a different one.
Leggings under a mini can look fresh while solving myriad ills from the over-reveal to unsightly skin. But they lend a casual attitude that may clash with formal offices or occasions.
Pairing a sexy mini with platform high heels can easily veer into lady-of-the-evening territory. Chunky heels on boots or low pumps, on the other hand, can lend a mod look to the outfit. So can kitten heels. Contrary to myth, high heels don't actually make minis shorter, but they do place more focus on the legs and enhance the rear end.
Minis have come and gone and come again since the 1960s. Designers love to switch directions in their pursuit of something new. Mr. Valli notes that this is his second round with minis since launching his label nine years ago. 'The great thing about fashion,' he says, 'is that season after season you can express one thing and the next collection its contrary.'
When high-fashion hemlines dropped to the shin several years ago, some people attributed the shift to conservative feelings engendered by the financial crash and ensuing recession. Others pointed the finger at Janie Bryant, costume designer of the television show 'Mad Men,' which capitalized on a growing national obsession with midcentury modern style.
Whatever the cause, by the time designer Raf Simons made the fashion world swoon with a '50s Dior-esque collection for Jil Sander of wasp-waist, shin-length confections in February 2012, dresses required extra yardage.
The pendulum began to swing the other way about a year ago when Mr.Slimane put miniskirts and short baby doll dresses on Saint Laurent's runway in March 2013. They looked so short that critics shrugged and predicted they would never sell. A few months later, the dresses could be seen disappearing into the dressing rooms at the trend-forward boutique Maxfield in Los Angeles.
这些迷你裙都出自时尚前沿的设计师之手——艾迪·斯理曼(Hedi Slimane)性感迷人的 罗兰(Saint Laurent)，欧式时髦风格的詹巴迪斯塔·瓦利(Giambattista Valli)，迪奥(Dior)的拉夫·西蒙斯(Raf Simons)，休闲时尚的伊莎贝尔·玛兰(Isabel Marant)——说明它正站在时尚潮流的风口浪尖。在为路易威登(Louis Vuitton)所做的首个系列中，尼古拉斯·盖斯基埃(Nicolas Ghesquiere)把注押在了修身迷你裙上。
有主流零售商说，他们打算先对迷你裙观察一两季，然后再决定是否大量投资。梅西百货公司(Macy's Inc.)旗下布鲁明戴尔百货公司(Bloomingdale's)时装总监布鲁克·贾菲(Brooke Jaffe)说：“这并不是我们所追求的潮流。”她说，布鲁明戴尔主要出售长度刚到膝盖以下的裙子。布鲁明戴尔会进一些适合“非工作时间”穿着的迷你裙，比如玛兰设计的比较花哨的款式。
1970年，玛戈·巴伯考(Margo Barbakow)在纽约华尔道夫大厦酒店(Waldorf Astoria towers)结婚时穿的就是白色迷你裙婚纱。
如今巴伯考已经66岁，住在加州 巴巴拉(Santa Barbara)。她说，现在她穿裙子不会超过略高于膝盖的高度。她说，幸运的是最近她减了18磅的体重。她说：“现在我对露腿的感觉好些了——涂上足够的自助美黑霜就可以了。”
几年前高档裙装长度长至小腿时，有人把这种转变归因于金融危机及随之而来的衰退带来的保守情绪。还有人认为是詹妮·布赖恩特(Janie Bryant)的问题。她是电视剧集《广告狂人》(Mad Men)的服装设计师，这部剧抓住了人们对上世纪中叶现代风格日益迷恋的情愫。