Sarah Rees, designer and director at contemporary womenswear brand Lulu & Red, said: “Femininity via wrap dresses and 1950s-style prom dresses is popular going into autumn 08, but we’re focusing on a darker colour palette. The uncertain economic climate means people are tightening their purses, and in design terms playfulness is increasingly replaced by tailored garments.”
Young fashion brand Chilli Pepper has also backed the return to shape and structure. “We are predicting a continuation of the fitted dress as a key item,” said managing director Alan Strang. “Tailoring is sexier and more glamorous for eveningwear. It suits the dressier elements of our customers, as well as being more suitable for the weather during the colder months.”
Fitted seams and corset styling are used throughout Chilli Pepper’s autumn 08 range, from trousers to skirts, with classic materials such as Melton wool mixed with Lurex.
Other brands backing the feminine trend include Oui Set. UK sales director Geraldine Bennett said: “The focus is on shape, fit and fabric. Dresses are a big part of that, and a strong part of our buy. The return to the hourglass lets us offer a point of difference. This kind of tailoring requires work and isn’t just using a belt to change the shape, but part of the whole garment.”
Waist-defining silhouettes will be a key look on the high street for autumn, with retailers including Principles backing the trend.
Principles creative director Nerinda Leon said: “You have to walk differently with a waist. It becomes more high maintenance, but women want that option to dress up.
“We are coming out of the casual age. The big trend over the next five years will be proper dressing, starting from next autumn, especially our Audrey Hepburn-inspired shifts that have a nipped-in waist.”