Every woman has had that dream at some point where she is lying on a bed, enveloped in soft folds of velvet, satin or silk and reveling in the feel of luxe fabric on her skin. It seems today more and more designers are taking cues from this secret little fantasy by creating confections that drape, fold, cloak, hang and generally enswathe the body. Draped styles are seemingly fun for a designer, who allows the garment to become his playground as he twists and turns fabric to create a signature look. But wearing draped pieces can be fun for the consumer as well, as the soft folds hug parts of the body as well as it conceals others. With inspiration ranging from screen sirens of the 1930s to Greek mythology, garments that drape and fold methodically combine time-honored ideas of the female form with the high-style aesthetic of the future .
Channel your inner goddess with a skirt of Romanesque proportion. Soft folds drape gently from the back of this form-fitting shape creating a gathered front reminiscent of a light, ethereal wrap (think: Helen of Troy, not sorority mixers). Styles spotted on the runways at houses like Costello Tagliapietra lapped at models legs like liquid in swaths of satin, chiffon, and silk shantung. A suitable style for daywear (and something that could transition easily to night) would be an above-the-knee version in a breathable fabric like cotton or jersey. The typically higher waist of the drape skirt (while blessedly covers the mid section) calls for an appropriately shorter top so belt it, tuck it in or layer it but don’t hide the beauty of those fabulous folds!
Feast your eyes on the modern take of the draped dress. Forgoing the long lengths of the 30s and 40s, and the (ugh) shoulder pads on versions in the 80s, this silhouette is cutting edge and will soon become a staple in any fashion forward wardrobe. The â€˜not quite here nor there’ style of the dress is unique enough to be inventive, yet versatile enough to be wearable, unlike other styles considered avant garde. The runway at Cushnie et Ochs chose the hue du jour of nude, though purples have also appeared on the horizon as we inch closer to the jewel tones of fall. The asymmetry of the collar, the sleeves, and the direction of the draping result in a look that covers enough to be modest, yet also reveals enough cut outs of skin to be sexy.
Another shape that’s suggestive while still maintaining its elegance is the various tucks and turns of a belted one piece. The drama at the collar of Lanvin’s minidress can be translated loosely into the more casual halter collar of the jumpsuit. The trick to the draping here is in the wrap top, which makes for a universally flattering fit as the pleats fold over each other to emphasize the waist. It’s also made that much smaller by the pintucked belt and baggier bottom seen on both designs.
Finally and arguably the easiest way to add a bit of draped luxury to your life, almost as an afterthought when you’re running out, should be a comfy, cozy cardigan wrap. This lovechild of two different cover-ups seems to serve all functions and still remains chic within the long, hanging folds. Choose one in a neutral shade for maximum use (and seasonal versatility!) A find with sweet little details like subtle embroidery or even lavish embellishment like at Phillip Lim will be a prize you’ll cherish forever. The flattering and functional qualities of draped garments truly embody all the elements of that perfect dream we’ve all had at some time or another. But in real life, it doesn’t have to be a secret. And the best part is, you also don’t have to wake up.
1. Runway: Costello Tagliapietra Spring RTW 2009
2. Real Way: Versace Knee Length Skirt $190
3. Runway: Cushnie et Ochs Spring RTW 2009
4. Real Way: Alexander Wang Asymmetric Jersey Dress $590
5. Runway: Lanvin Spring RTW 2009
6. Real Way: Catherine Malandrino Draped Neckline Romper $395
7. Runway: Philip Lim Fall RTW 2009
8. Real Way: Bop Basics Pointelle Cashmere Draped Cardigan $280
Runway photos: nymag.com