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What Makes a Power Woman?

The return of empowered femininity is all the rage this season, but designers had their own takes on what this looks like, reports Angelo Flaccavento.
Lanvin Autumn/ Winter 2020 | Source: Getty Images

PARIS, France — The traditional power woman is all over the runways this season with a high heeled, red-lipped, neatly coiffed femininity making a comeback. It looked particularly alluring at Lanvin, where Bruno Sialelli really came into his own, shaking off the debt to his tenure at Loewe that previously clogged his creative expression. Indeed, his latest Lanvin collection was his best so far. Presented among painterly tapestries, the intimate show was entitled Conversation Piece and was basically a dialogue between Sialelli and Jeanne Lanvin, the label’s founder.

Lanvin Autumn/ Winter 2020

"I wanted to explore sides of the house that probably are lesser known," said Sialelli, "in particular the personality of the woman [Jeanne Lanvin] aimed at dressing." This translated into a charming excursus that spanned multiple decades and styles and categories, from the languor of the 1920s to the youthfulness of the 1960s, from liquid dressing to sharp tailoring. What made this outing a winner was the fact that Sialelli avoided reverting to literal references, while imbuing everything with the naive sense of ease that is his signature.

Mugler Autumn/ Winter 2020

Feminine empowerment has been the name of the game at Mugler since day one. The grandeur of master Thierry Mugler is clearly hard to repeat. And it would be out of sync with our times, in any case. Casey Cadwallader is doing his best to update the brand to the beat of a fiercely contemporary, metropolitan drum. It’s not about the unattainable goddess anymore. For one, the casting is more inclusive. The clothing, meanwhile, got tougher, and more real: a bit club-worthy, a bit street-worthy. All of the leather and the harsh sexuality looked a bit easy on the eye at times, and at times downright cheap, but all in all this was a good show.

Koché Autumn/ Winter 2020

For the first outing since Diesel parent company OTB acquired the label Koché, designer Christelle Kocher embraced denim, big time. It was quite a predictable move, that nonetheless added more depth and more texture to the already layered Koché code. Denim was taken this way and that, embroidered with couture techniques and made part of intense collaging. It was all quintessentially Koché, but a little tougher, and a little tackier, hence not entirely convincing. Yet womanly and powerful it was, for sure.

Rochas Autumn/ Winter 2020

For his last Rochas collection, Alessandro Dell'Acqua went ultra-feminine. Not that his six-year tenure at the historic French house was ever not feminine: Dell'Acqua knows how to make a woman look gorgeous. But this collection was particularly womanly, poised and considered, high on colour block silhouettes, sparkling textures and glamorous shoes. It was also very strict and concise and came with a slight sense of déjà vu: Dell'Acqua reworked some of his signature Rochas pieces for this one and cannot be blamed for that. With a strange sense of timing, the house of Rochas announced Dell'Acqua's departure a few months ago and the decision cast a shadow over the proceedings. More sensitivity would have put Dell'Acqua on different footing.

Lemaire Autumn/ Winter 2020

Lemaire Autumn/ Winter 2020 | Source: Courtesy

The brand of femininity Christophe Lemaire and Sarah-Linh Tran promote over at Lemaire is certainly powerful, but of a wholly different kind: pared down, pragmatic, muted. It's more about inner strength than cinched waists, that's for sure. Things barely change from one collection to the other, but what the brand lacks in newness it gains in honesty. This season the story was about rounded volumes, earthy tones and bestiary prints. It was simple, effective and gorgeous.

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