Swish-worthy pleats have seen a coming-of-age this season, as the schoolgirl signature transitions from the playground to the cocktail bar. Pleats aplenty return to the fashion fold with gusto but for spring/summer it’s the micro pleat that guarantees an A+ in sartorial I.Q.
The springy, super-tight pleats that we have come to know were originally created by Italian pleat prince Mariano Fortuny at the turn-of-the-century (19th, we mean). Fortuny emulated the timeless drapery of Greek goddesses, with intricately-folded silks that allowed women a stylish alternative to rib-crunching corsets. He gave them names like Peplos or Delphos – they were still being worn by style-setters like Tina Chow in the 1980s, still looking slick and modern.
Their most recent reincarnation came courtesy of Japanese innovator Issey Miyake in 1993, with the launch of his feted label Pleats Please – but more than two decades later (and a century after Fortuny) the same ingenious techniques are being embraced by some of the industry’s greatest designers, affording us with a level of sophistication that goes far and beyond the confides of the classroom.
Undoubtedly this season’s favourite, the micro pleat, cast its appeal across a bevy of furrow-loving creators with Stella McCartney, Sonya Rykiel, Boss and Gucci at the vanguard of spring/summer’s corrugated craze. Tier after tier, eye-catching brights were the hot topic at Stella McCartney and Sonia Rykiel who opted for mid-length punch in orange, cobalt and acid yellow pleats; for Stella though, an adult makeover meant working in a little flair with asymmetric hemlines and metallic flashes.
For Gucci, 1970s sentiment saw creative director Alessandro Michele suffuse the catwalk with three-dimensional quality where amped up colour and geek-chic experimentation saw both knife and micro pleats become a cult reference among the fashion forte – but how well can this really translate to a nine-to-five wardrobe?
With pleats inevitably comes volume and for the majority of us the idea of adding (more) bulk to the hips is a serious no-go but this can be avoided – airy, silk fabrics will hide a multitude of sins and if you find a pleat that’s fluid, it will skim over any unsightlies to create a form-flattering silhouette. If this all sounds a little girlish though, why not pair your pleats with chunky platforms or a pair of tennis pumps for added edge. There’s no denying that you’ll be wearing some variation of pleat this season but be prepared to invest in something that will stand the test of time. Pleats are here to stay and for autumn/winter 2016 Mary Katrantzou and Valentino plumped for monochrome and metallic variations for fuss-free flattery.
Don’t cramp your style – crimp it instead.