The question of broad shoulder


As yet another stock of highly anticipated images of Céline’s resort collection has been released, garments are ready to take place among polished brass, customized marble floors and pink acrylic cubes. The sartorial tone for the next season is set: the bolder the shoulder – the more interesting the wearer.   

the exaggerated silhouette draws attention to the face eliciting a sense of unapologetic entitlement.

Through the affiliation of the cut or context of classical pieces, Céline has quickly established itself as a brand rendering an invigorating approach to the un-adorned wardrobe of the working woman. Enamoured with efficiency, Phoebe Philo (of Céline) has since the start (at the eponymous label) displayed a propensity for simplicity and function, offering the wearer a multitude of possibilities at uncompromised ease. In this context – suit – a recognizable emblem of office dressing, uniformly consisting of a smart jacket and pants or a skirt, is the ultimate exercise in achieving a sparse yet bold appearance that has been Philo’s forte from the beginning. There is nevertheless further depth to the brand; it has consciously paved the way for unflinching comfort, pioneering sneakers (notably white at the beginning) and flat shoes as a part of the sartorial office attire, consequently championing equality and women’s rights all in one. Thus when a house as impactful as the one of Céline presents us with a look assimilated with the notion of  ‘power dressing’ – a generic phrase laden with symbolism referring to the 1980’s love affair with shoulder pads and pleated pants in all their ‘Dynasty’ glory –  we listen.

Tracing the history of women in suits it is fair to argue that few other ensembles have been as implicated in the political & socio-economical struggle of women’s liberation, as the suit. Commanding power underneath the disguise of pinstripes, the suite became elusive of an era when women tried to fit into male regimes of the values of leadership,competence and assertiveness. Masterfully styled and only worn by a selected brave few, power dressing transcended into social caricature to rest in peace – until now, marking a shift in collective consciousness. The neo-liberal notion of the bold shoulder and cinched waist puts emphasis on the feminine silhouette; a play on lines which reclaims femininity and grace within a concept that seems to have very little in common with its prehistoric, dynastic cousin. This time around, the wearer is empowered and their wardrobe is merely exhibiting that notion; we inherently expand ourselves – we stretch out, we lift our chins and pull our shoulders back. We puff up our chests, spread our feet apart and raise our arms. This posture, with its bold occupation of space, communicates status and power as a part of a strategic display in order to render a bigger sense of authority. In this respect the viewer is impelled to pay attention.


Commanding power underneath the disguise of pinstripes, the suite became elusive of an era when women tried to fit into male regimes

In all honesty, it isn’t Phoebe Philo of Céline whom has taken a leading leap into the ‘the bigger the better’ trend this season; although fashion’s favourite protagonist has been playing with proportions in her own right.  The case for the ‘revival’ of the power-shoulder has rather been championed by her male counterparts – Jonathan W. Anderson and Demna Gvasalia. While the latter may have a slightly different set of connotations within Vetements’ high conceptualized collections; the sweatshirt which is reminiscent of a rugby player crossing over to the black metal fan; the notion is the same – the exaggerated silhouette draws attention to the face eliciting a sense of unapologetic entitlement.