A young fashion commentator in Milan tells me the next fashion "trend" will be "A Blast from the Past." And she wonders if women consumers have had anything to do with the return to the "full figured" woman.
It's an important issue: the power of women as consumers in an industry that ‘owns’ them, so to speak.
Women wear fashion. It’s unavoidable. Every choice they make is fashion conscious. At the same time their choices are image driven, more specifically, body image driven.
“Does my bum look big in this?” became the catch cry for the way women make a choice within the limits of what is made available to them by the fashion gods.
So when the gods switch from heroin chic, to granny comfortable, or fifties retro etc, it begs the question: Are the gods influenced by the consumers, who have been struggling to fit into skinny legged jeans, g-strings, pointed boots and strapless bras etc or is the switch just another whim.
Certainly the return to the more curvaceous, goddess-like women, such as Marilyn Monroe, Esther Williams, Rita Hayworth etc will be welcomed by the majority of women because the majority of women have hips, breasts and thighs. That’s what makes them women. But will the designers allow curvaceous women to model for them? Will cat walk models ever be less leggy and more fleshy.
As a psychologist working with girls and women with eating disorders, I can vouch for the effect fashion has. While fashion may not create eating disorders per say, it does have a negative impact on ‘recovery.’ Many girls are asked if they are models. Receiving positive praise for thinness discourages them from gaining weight. And for obese patients, their depression is exacerbated by fashion which extols thinness as a virtue.
So while I would like to think that the retro fashion has resulted from consumer pressure, I am also aware that a lot has to change in the fashion psyche before women can be celebrated for what they are: diverse. A one size fits all approach does not serve them, especially when that one size suits only the smallest fraction of the minority.