Sensuality is not something New Zealand fashion does particularly well, a hangover from our nationwide modesty and humility. Covered-up and moody, yes; quirky frumpiness, sure. But grown-up sex appeal? Only when teamed with a self-conscious blush.
But this season's woman pushes prudishness aside, with exposed skin and boudoir-inspired lingerie and lace on show. At Louis Vuitton, models walked the runway in states of undress, in pyjamas and silk negligees, while at Prada the clothes looked as if they were ready to slip right off the models' bodies.
Saucy lingerie references - bodices and corsets - appeared at Nina Ricci and Jonathan Saunders, while nipped and tucked silhouettes that begged for a womanly hourglass shape were highlights at Gucci, Bottega Veneta and Dolce and Gabbana.
In beauty, a focus on skin, too. At Salasai's show at NZ Fashion Week models were fresh-faced and glowing as if they had just come from a stint in the steam room, or doing something naughtier, while in Milan, Miuccia Prada's women had wet, just-out-of-the-shower hair and bold burgundy-stained pouts (also seen at Vera Wang and Lanvin). And later this year, NARS will release a makeup collection inspired by the provocative and sensual photographs by Guy Bourdin.
Kate Sylvester is one of the few local designers to reference women's sexuality with her summer collection inspired by one of the most ravishing women of all time, Marilyn Monroe.
Her bombshell sex appeal may seem a bit too obvious for Sylvester, who often tends towards a more buttoned-up, intellectual muse, but as the designer explained earlier this year, there was more to Marilyn than the va-va-voom. "That's what I've always loved about her, the contradictions and her complexities." That is, a real, grown woman.
Take a look at our pick of boudoir-inspired summer style:
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