Accessories may be cash cows for luxury brands, but for smaller fashion labels it’s the dress that’s having a major moment. The recent frock frenzy started with designers, such as Roland Mouret and L’Wren Scott, whose fortunes sprung from their perfectly form-fitting cocktail dresses. Victoria Beckham followed suit with a 10-piece dress collection last fall, around the same time that Nicole Miller launched her Studio One day dress label and Preen designed a capsule dress collection for Net-a-Porter. Most recently, Peter Soronen debuted PS., a collection of short, sexy dresses whose roots lie in the designer’s archive of evening gowns. Malcolm Harris, too, is set to launch a capsule line of dresses, all cut from the same pattern.
Some designers attribute the current dress boom to the growing fascination with red-carpet style. “There are so many young actresses approaching me to dress them, plus so many other women that work hard to maintain their figures and want shorter styles,” says Soronen. “I’ve found that dresses have always been my strength, so why not a mini version with a little rock energy?” As further proof, look to Mouret and Scott, who shot to fame thanks to all the starlets snapped in their creations.
And then, there’s the rest of us, who are leading equally frenzied lifestyles even without the film premieres and flashbulbs. “My label includes lots of dress options, as that’s what I personally love to wear,” says Australian designer Yeojin Bae. “Life is crazy busy at the moment, so it allows me to get dressed quickly in the morning, run around the office all day in flats and slip into heels and out in the evening.” Adds Soronen: “I wanted to give women something that can be worn with ease, yet clearly makes a statement.”
And, as always, the economy is a factor, making versatile, un-fussy dressing more important than ever. “Consumers today want true value,” says Soronen, adding: “I’ve always offered this in my work, but PS. really does give substantial quality at a remarkable price.” Bae agrees, saying, “I think consumers are being a lot more considered, and a dress offers a whole new look in a one-piece purchase.” Glamorous, effortless and cost-effective, here’s hoping the dress obsession lasts longer than a status bag on an Olsen’s arm.