01 Sep DOES FASHION HAVE TO BE SEXY?
Personal style has always been something I have struggled with, specifically the dilemma between wearing clothes that I objectively love and wearing clothes that I think make me look good. There are pieces that speak to me on a deep level, but they do not make me look conventionally attractive or sexy. The pressure that I put on myself to choose clothes that are less extravagant to ensure they still look appealing to others is absurd.
This is where Molly Goddard comes in. I think it was the 2020 awards season when I started to see these gorgeous poofy, tulle dresses show up on multiple red carpets, and it was like an epiphany to me. She was the physical embodiment of my fear of wearing unflattering and ultra-feminine clothing.
Molly Goddard is a London based fashion designer, whose self-titled brand started taking off in 2014, though her designs didn’t catch my eye or enter mainstream fashion until about a year ago. Molly is known for her use of colourful tulle in her designs. The label is also known for their hand-pleating and smocking techniques that create grandiose silhouettes when paired with the tulle. Her Spring 2021 Ready-to-Wear collection is what I think most aptly displays her signatures, the ostentatious silhouettes, bright colours, layered styling and of course detailed craftsmanship.
Seeing Molly Goddard’s designs for me was like seeing women creating for women, not women creating for the idea of women. Her designs are breathtaking and beautiful, and there is no arguing that the models look amazing in them, but I would not say they look sexy or, again, conventionally attractive. This is what I love about the clothes, and what drew me to them. They dispel the standards of the male gaze, ignoring how women are supposed to be perceived by society; as attractive and sexy. The designs do not cater to the narrative that garments have to emphasize certain aspects of women’s bodies for women to be seen as women. They encourage women to move away from the idea that to be confident, feminine and attractive you need to dress a certain way, and that your body and what you put on it defines how others perceive you.
Watching Rosamund Pike in a Molly Goddard red-pink tulle dress at the Golden Globes brought back so many memories of my own prom, where I wore a similar dress. Graduation and proms were always especially difficult for me, because all I wanted to wear were huge, gaudy tulle dresses. While everyone else wore form fitting numbers that never held any appeal to me. Though that was what I decided to wear for every school event, again as I chose looking conventionally attractive over wearing something I loved. However, it was Grade 12 prom where I decided to step outside of my comfort zone, and wear a pink tulle dress that I had fallen in love with. When I saw Rosemeund Pike wearing a similar dress, it cemented my belief that not everything I wear has to be for other people, nor does it have to make me look a certain way.
After seeing Molly Goddard worn at the Golden Globes, I saw her popping up everywhere. Her designs were worn by the likes of Rhianna, Beyonce, Olivia Rodrigo and Nicola Couglan. Though Goddard is certainly not the first designer to promote the garment and not just how it fits the body wearing it, she was the first designer to do this that resonated with me. It left me feeling empowered that women do not need to be sexy to be beautiful or to feel comfortable in who they are. Fashion does not have to be flattering, fashion can just be about the clothes and not about how they look on you.
Molly Goddard as as example of women designing for fashion and not for sex appeal is slightly extreme, as her collections consist of mostly gowns and not necessarily garments women wear on the day- to-day. The sentiment extends to everyday life, and specifically to personal style.
Another example of women designing for women is Phoebe Philo – a previous creative director at Celine. She was one of the first people to popularize workwear that women actually wanted to wear; gone were body-con pencil skirts and blouses that didn’t button over your boobs. She brought in the oversized yet chic silhouette that women gravitate towards today. Again creating clothes that do not revolve around the wearer looking sexy or appealing, but stylish and confident. The clothes are by no means unflattering per-say, but they do not rely on form fitting silhouettes or showing skin to make the wearer look good.
This is what I aspire for in my own style, to feel comfortable looking sexy and wearing clothes that emphasize my body when I want, and also feeling comfortable wearing clothes that make me look like a potato sack but I love. Women and people in general should be able to do both, to have the autonomy to wear what they want and not be looked down upon for looking overly feminine or less feminine.
This is something I will continue to work on, as I cannot sit here and say that I will go forward and wear a huge, poofy dress to a bar and feel comfortable, that would be a lie. But I will step out of my comfort zone and try to care less about the opinions of others, and if they find me attractive in what I am wearing. I encourage all women to wear what they want, whether that be bodycon dresses that emphasize your curves or oversized t-shirts that cover everything; and ultimately be comfortable with their choices.