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Here’s to the rise of romance as a statement of empowerment.


by Lindsay Samson

Oct 19, 2020

There’s something immensely powerful about femininity and, when it comes to the fashion landscape, it’s no longer just pantsuits and shoulder pants that equal empowerment. No longer are women compelled to stifle this aspect of themselves in order to be taken seriously; instead they’re deriving strength and confidence from embracing a new kind of power dressing, one characterized by clingy dresses, voluminous shapes, and glittering embellishment. “Sometimes it feels as if women have to renounce their femininity to be stronger,” designer and creative director of Maison Valentino, Pierpaolo Piccioli, told British Vogue in 2018 before showing his AW‘18 ready-to-wear collection at Paris Fashion Week. “I don’t think you need to be authoritarian to be assertive. Today, romanticism is not a weakness, it’s a strength. You can be assertive and not be aggressive.”

And though archaic associations as concerns the feminine—such as notions of frivolity and superficiality, and, of course, the idea that pink and floral are for little girls—persist today (including the conversations that we're beginning to have as a society about issues of power and gender are leading to a deeper understanding of fashion as a means of self-expression and a display of one's individuality. Modern femininity embraces romance and ruffles beyond just poofy dresses and skirts, instead finding a kind of soft strength in wide-legged trousers, eccentric patterns and matching sets.

Quite truthfully however, femininity is a feeling, one experienced differently by everyone. It represents a mood and attitude as much as it does an aesthetic. Perhaps you feel best expressing this side of yourself through jeans and a T-Shirt, in which case, who are we to tell you otherwise? That being said, we couldn't resist putting together a guide to some of the pieces that we feel best represents the new feminine. Read on to discover our favorite romantic styles.  Shop the full collection, here.


Photo: Asali Dress, Doreen Mashika

BEST DRESS(ED)

With a long history of being a marker of femininity, today there’s a dress for everyone, the garment having carved a place for itself in fashion as supremely versatile, wardrobe staple that can be rendered in styles both refined and casual. But this season, graceful and voluminous have taken the place of figure hugging and curve boosting. Billowy and roomy, Doreen Mashika’s creations allow for maximum movement, their soft cotton fabric upping the comfort factor of the dresses. The wide belt of the Amani Dress creates an ultra-flattering and defining silhouette, while the Asali’s voluminous sleeves and flouncy silhouette offers a more playful effect. But if pink is indeed your pick, the softness of Diarrablu's Marieme Dress in salmon projects a quiet power, its luxurious silk-form fitting snugly and elegantly. Pair this with a barely-there stiletto sandal then add shoulder-sweeping earrings to complete a high-impact evening style.

Mandarin Shirt Dress
Mandarin Shirt Dress
Mandarin Shirt Dress
Mandarin Shirt Dress

Studio 189

Mandarin Shirt Dress

$425
Amani Dress
Amani Dress
Amani Dress
Amani Dress

Doreen Mashika

Amani Dress

$210
Marieme Dress
Marieme Dress
Marieme Dress

Diarrablu

Marieme Dress

$235
Asali Dress
Asali Dress
Asali Dress
Asali Dress
Asali Dress

Doreen Mashika

Asali Dress

$200


Photo: Kimono, Awa Meité

COVER (UP) GIRL

There’s an innate romance to the kimono, its elegant, refined form evocative of a kind of distant regality. It’s also the ultimate transformative wardrobe piece, one that has the power to both smarten up and soften. Add one to a pair of leggings and a tank top and you’ll have royally upgraded the most casual of looks to an elegant ensemble. Kimonos move beautifully too: with its flow, the wearer takes up space when she walks, always elegant and fully in charge. Consider Malian designer Awa Meité’s magnificent, floor-sweeping version: this kimono-style jacket fits and falls so delicately against the body, the unique silhouette revved up by unexpected cut-out sleeve detailing. If you are looking to amp up the drama a little, turn to the Jafar Cover-up by Andrea Iyamah, it’s ultra-voluminous style proving both comfortable and romantic, sophisticated yet accessible. Pair this statement cover up with a tailored high waisted trouser, strapless bodysuit and simple, slip-on sandal for a romantic feminine look that is also super modern.

Kimono
Kimono
Kimono

Awa Meité

Kimono

$247
Zane Cover-up
Zane Cover-up
Zane Cover-up
Zane Cover-up
Zane Cover-up
Zane Cover-up
Zane Cover-up
Zane Cover-up
Zane Cover-up
Zane Cover-up
Zane Cover-up

Andrea Iyamah

Zane Cover-up

$190
Navy and Green Silk Kimono
Navy and Green Silk Kimono
Navy and Green Silk Kimono
Navy and Green Silk Kimono

Studio 189

Navy and Green Silk Kimono

$725
Jafar Cover-up
Jafar Cover-up
Jafar Cover-up
Jafar Cover-up
Jafar Cover-up
Jafar Cover-up
Jafar Cover-up
Jafar Cover-up
Jafar Cover-up
Jafar Cover-up

Andrea Iyamah

Jafar Cover-up

$190

“I don’t think you need to be authoritarian to be assertive. Today, romanticism is not a weakness, it’s a strength. You can be assertive and not be aggressive.”


Photo: Red, Black and Rose Mandevo Street Pajama, Taibo Bacar

PAJAMA GAME

There’s just something so decadent about the pajama-as-outerwear trend; it's hard not to fall for the alluring combination of comfort, ease, and chic-without-even-trying aesthetic it presents. It’s also an entire look on its own that needs minimal styling to turn heads. And with entire brands having been founded upon the laid back yet luxe style—see the phenomenal success of Ukrainian loungewear label, Sleeper—the trend is definitely not going anywhere soon. With their Mandevo Street Pajama, Taibo Bacar takes on sheer, giving dynamism to minimalist shapes. Cut from breathable silk sateen, it includes a relaxed-fit top and wide-leg pants finished with fluffy faux-feathers, it’s unusual, nature inspired print lending it a touch of whimsy. Meanwhile, the set’s waist-belt allows the wearer to choose their silhouette according to their preferences. Slip on a coat, a pair of barely-there heels, and a delicate hoop earring for a casual dinner, or pair the pants with an oversized sweater for a luxe daytime look that is both utterly modern and perfectly pretty.

Mandevo Shirt Dress
Mandevo Shirt Dress
Mandevo Shirt Dress

Taibo Bacar

Mandevo Shirt Dress

$578
Rose Mandevo Shirt
Rose Mandevo Shirt
Rose Mandevo Shirt

Taibo Bacar

Rose Mandevo Shirt

$293
Red Mandevo Street Pajama
Red Mandevo Street Pajama
Red Mandevo Street Pajama

Taibo Bacar

Red Mandevo Street Pajama

$782
Rose Mandevo Street Pajama
Rose Mandevo Street Pajama
Rose Mandevo Street Pajama

Taibo Bacar

Rose Mandevo Street Pajama

$782


Photo: Crossroads Mermaid Skirt, Studio 189

BOTTOMS UP

When it comes to skirts and trousers, no one is more feminine than the other. Femininity and flowers? That’s just a tad too obvious, no? While we’re not going to try and stop you if all-over floral is your thing, there are just so many other wonderful patterns and prints to play with here so have a little fun. Crafted from luxurious crinkled silk, Orange Culture’s Rume Printed Pants are an irresistible dose of unconventionality, their bright colors and mesmerising print just the thing for the shopper who likes to express her femininity boldly. Slightly more subtle but just as spirited is Studio 189’s Green Aggie Alicia Skirt. Cut to sit on the waist, everything about this piece is designed to emphasise the female form, it’s full, tiered silhouette a strong and confident style choice.  

Crossroads Mermaid Skirt
Crossroads Mermaid Skirt
Crossroads Mermaid Skirt
Crossroads Mermaid Skirt

Studio 189

Crossroads Mermaid Skirt

$375
Colorblock Pants
Colorblock Pants
Colorblock Pants
Colorblock Pants

Kahindo

Colorblock Pants

$183
Rume Printed Pants
Rume Printed Pants

Orange Culture

Rume Printed Pants

$272
Green Aggie Alicia Skirt
Green Aggie Alicia Skirt
Green Aggie Alicia Skirt
Green Aggie Alicia Skirt

Studio 189

Green Aggie Alicia Skirt

$625