Fashion frill seekers spoilt for choice in spring collections

Whether an ’80s throwback to Princess Diana’s pie-crust frill collars or a ’60s baby-doll look, the ruffle’s romantic and sensual appeal lives on

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 March, 2017, 1:02pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 March, 2017, 5:42pm

Ruffles, frills, flounces – they bounced back to the catwalk two years ago but have lost none of their appeal for spring. Collections are full of ruffles, ranging from ditsy versions to showy hems and cuff attachments.

Ruffles have been a feature of fashion romantics such as Giambattista Valli, Erdem and Riccardo Tisci (before his departure from Givenchy) and brands such as Chloé and Alexander McQueen. One of the highlights of the spring-summer collections is a McQueen dress with its white ruffled train, which looked as if its model was walking through foaming surf.

Boho dresses are big business at Chloé and Roberto Cavalli. However, Chloé’s collection stepped back a decade from floor-grazing 1970s looks to girlish ’60s-style baby dolls with tiered, lace-edged frills in pastels.

Giambattista Valli’s fashion has a youthful romance, which for summer pairs ruffled baby dolls and ballerina-style minidresses with lingerie for that underwear-as-outerwear look.

Frills, lace, semi-sheer dresses and Victoriana are trademarks of Simone Rocha, and this season bright white broderie anglaise and Swiss cotton lace worn with white gloves suggest youthful innocence. Erdem loves the sweetness of a frill too, but the ones in his collection range from the dainty to much bigger.

Designers are using ruffles to add structure and drama, with a voluminous ruffle on a skirt or a sculpted ruffle encircling arms. J.W. Anderson may have had a hand in the development of the bold frill – his collection for spring 2016 featured cloud-like formed skirts and wavy peplums on skirts that jutted out at 90 degrees from the hem. The look referenced Capucci (renowned for his stiff-frilled silhouettes) and Cardin in the ’60s.

The Spanish couturier Cristobal Balenciaga was especially famed for his Modernist sculptural silhouettes. He experimented with proportions and would often use a gargantuan frill to add volume to a dress or a coat, either around the neck or on the sleeves. This is on show in an upcoming exhibition, “Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion”, at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (May 27 to February 18, 2018) to mark the 80th anniversary of the opening of his couture house in Paris, which today is led by Demna Gvasalia. The exhibition will feature fashion from the couturier’s most creative period – the ’50s and ’60s.

Fellow Spaniards Josep Font, at Delpozo, and Johnny Coca, at Mulberry, use a ruffle in a similarly cutting-edge way – arcing, curving pieces of fabric create bold shapes on coats and dresses. Perhaps, along with Balenciaga, it is their shared Spanish heritage of fierce flamenco dancers in their swishing skirts that is the root of this concept. Certainly there were big sculptural ruffles on the pinafores at Mulberry and some ferocious-looking frills on patent shoes.

Delpozo’s Font likes to use bold, couture-style shapes that are evocative of Balenciaga. The super-sized frills are fresh and crisp and create architectural volume through his choice of fabric colour and print. With just a pair of cascading earrings to accessorise the clothes, the overall look is modern and architectural.

Ruffles can add romance, structure or sensuality, such as the cascade of frills on the slinky, silky photo-print dresses at Givenchy. Or they can be a throwback to the 1980s when Princess Diana’s pie-crust frill collars and taffeta ball dresses projecting giant frills were all the rage.

Alessandro Michele at Gucci mixed it all up in his spring-summer collection with brightly coloured ’80s taffeta cocktail dresses that were frilled and ruched; they shared the catwalk with long ruffled chiffon gowns and Victoriana frilled yoke gowns.