The suit storm had been building: The fashion hoodie had reached its saturation point—even Vetements’ Demna Gvasalia admitted to experiencing sweatshirt fatigue. There was the style community’s not so secret support of a certain presidential candidate and self-proclaimed “pantsuit aficionado.” And there were the women demanding to be taken seriously everywhere from the board room to the march on Washington. Which is why, for Fall, designers answered the rally cries with a fleet of blazers for every age and social circle. Topping off fully fledged pantsuits, skirts of every length, and, in the case of Stella McCartney’s double-breasted oversized show opener, a mile of bare legs—blazers stole the show at the Fall collections.
Nearly 50 years after Nan Kempner’s notorious stride into La Côte Basque wearing nothing but the top half of her Yves Saint Laurent pantsuit (after being refused entry for wearing trousers) the skin-flashing look still carries the thrill of defiance.
For those lower on courage but high on to-do lists, there was a laid back ease to the tailoring at Victoria Beckham, who ditched the hero dress beloved by trophy wives the world over for something aspirational for modern moguls: minimalist jackets in navy, gray and a sublime raspberry with martingales that pulled open one side—the lapel equivalent of a rolled up sleeve. She paired them with long skirts simply because she had never tried the combination before, but times being what they were, it was hard to ignore the comparisons to the suffragette suit, the uniform donned by women at the turn of the century fighting for the vote.
The look cropped up in Paris where Sarah Burton, in her most exceptional Alexander McQueen showing to date, borrowed the suffragette silhouette replete with waist-cinching belt and ground-sweeping skirt made for a wide-marching gait. Even in McQueen black, the look was optimistic—the collection an exploration of England’s pagan tradition devoted to the power of mother nature, of women’s intuition, and, paired with trainers, of a youthful generation who won’t be held back by expectations.
Jacquemus’ curvaceous noir flared quarters were deliciously swingy while Céline’s structured and spacious obsidian tuxedo jacket was the ideal wardrobe addition for the multi-hyphenate to throw on over just about anything, or better yet, exactly nothing.
And they came in colors, too. Bottega Veneta’s brilliant yellow suit with exaggerated shoulders and a nipped waist gave a nod to forties tailoring—blazer devotee Katharine Hepburn’s heyday no less. Hepburn summed up her feminist sartorial attitude in 1981 telling Barbara Walters, “I’ve just done what I damn well wanted to and I made enough money to support myself.” Which is to say, even if the frothy pastel cupcake dresses floating through Fall’s couture collections were designed with a princess moment in mind, the women who will wear them are no damsels in distress. They open their own doors, pay their own way and wear the pants, too, or, as the case may be, sometimes just a blazer.