Sex is the word of the day at Paris AW20

…But not in the way you think.

On 24 February, Harvey Weinstein was found guilty in a much-publicised sexual assault trial, over two years after the initial #MeToo scandal broke. The next day, Dior sent models down the catwalk beneath oversized signs bearing slogans like “consent” and “a woman’s love is unpaid labour”. If the Dior woman is anything, she’s empowered.

Away from the tone of feminist rage at Dior, Saint Laurent debuted a collection of slinky latex trousers, skimpy bras and power blazers, delivering a not-so-subtle message that women can be both sexy and a force to be reckoned with. At Mugler, Casey Cadwallader struck a similarly sensual note; giving us skin-tight leather, deconstructed silhouettes and eyefuls of flesh.

Critics have been quick to view Marine Serre’s showing — with balaclavas and face masks — as some kind of apocalyptic prophesy. But with her selection lightweight leather trousers, flattering fits and patchwork ballgowns we’re inclined to think that Serre still wants us to look good even as the human race self-destructs.

Whether it be Dior’s feminine resistance teamed with ‘70s-style minis, Saint Laurent and Mugler’s dive bar glamour, or Marine Serre’s catastrophe couture, the takeaway from Paris Fashion Week is clear: female sex appeal is a form of survival.

27 February 2020