Monday 29th March

| BY Emily Phillips

Nods to Nature: How Fashion is Embracing the Breast (Again)

And so concludes another offbeat month of shows, and from the looks of it, fashion’s leading creative minds have their eyes set on a return to nature and an innate appreciation for the body – in particular, breasts. Yes, you read that right…

The emphasis on breasts is often seen as an act of eroticism, however, this wasn’t the case for the myriad of collections that showed during fashion month. At Di Petsa, cutaway corsetry that reveals a breast for feeding as well as dresses, catsuits, and tops with adjustable breast panels, were a reminder that ‘You Are Your Own Mother’. The collection was a gentle gesture suggesting that you can nourish yourself, you can breastfeed from your own breast, or if you are actually a mother, the garments are equivocally functional for breastfeeding in public. 

Raring to go for 2021, breasts came to the fore at Schiaparelli, where creative director Daniel Roseberry honed in on his fascination with body parts. Appearing as a pair of gold quilted leather breasts on a cream-coloured hand-knit wool sweater, moulded leather bralettes, nipple embellishments, and gold adornments on a tweed blazer, the designs celebrate the body itself. Wondrously shaped sculptural elements, both pliable and solid, work to create a surreal vision of feminine beauty. The curious collection pushes the notion of dressing for the breasts into a whole new realm. 

Elsewhere, for Matthew Williams’ second show at Givenchy, rather than redesigning the breast for fashion’s sake he chose harnessed and exposed busts. The intention was to create a sense of sensuality in the collection’s elements in a display of female empowerment. 

Indeed it is an enticing vision, reinterpreting breasts, and from what we’ve seen over the past few weeks, it would seem that this attention to tits is permeating the world beyond these brands’ bubbles. At Blumarine there were glittering butterfly nipple appliques on a transparent mesh top; at Valentino there were lace, mesh, and naked dresses reminiscent of fish-netting; at Marni and Tom Ford, models flaunted their accentuated bosoms. 

If you take a step back and look at this season’s shows more broadly, it won’t be long before an overarching motivation becomes apparent. Resulting from both the social and physical isolation we’ve faced over the past year, nods to nature seem to be at the root of it all. In fact, brands like Issey Miyake, Jonathan Simkhai, and Miu Miu have all said that they found inspiration in nature, especially due to its space as a unifier and healer during this period of upheaval. Nature has connected us together, despite the odds, and provides the roots that renew and sustain us. Emerging designer Yuhan Wang said of her collection, appropriately called Women in Landscape: “I wanted to explore how time, space and spirit connect women together, and how nature is an ever-present teacher.” 

Likewise, Riccardo Tisci explained that his AW21 Burberry menswear collection was, “a homage to the relationship between humanity and nature, where we can break free and come together to discover new forms of expression. It’s for those who are defining their own path, whose strength and energy have inspired this Burberry collection.” There’s a growing appreciation for Mother Nature and her nurturing embrace – like a cuddle from your own mum. And it all goes back to what feeds us; what gives us energy and sustains us; what empowers us. We seem to be leaning into nature and in turn, the nourishment that is symbolised by a woman’s breast. If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it’s that it’s the natural world that connects us, she is our mother. To quote Di Petsa: “Let yourself breastfeed from your own breast.”

Photography courtesy of Di Petsa, Blumarine, Givenchy and Schiaparelli.