Battle of the Bandage Dress

I recently watched a video with Stylists Robert Verdi, June Ambrose, Fashion Journalist Laurie Brookins, Senior Womenswear Editor at WSGN (trend forecasters)Jaclyn Jones and others in the business  sitting around a table at The Lion in NYC dining and talking fashion.  One of the subjects that they were discussing was that a large part of trend forecasting is driven by the textile industry. “I think fabrics really set the tone,” says Jones.  “You can go to a fabric trade show and really predict what you’re going to see coming down the runway.”

WSGN starts tracking season trends two years in advance and so begins a version of the “trickle down” theory.  I imagine it going something like the scene in “The Devil Wears Prada” when Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) explains to neophyte Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) that her “lumpy” cerulean blue sweater is all part of a vast merchandising cog eventually sent down from the cerulean blue gowns shown at several haute couture fashion houses to the masses into “some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin.”

This is all background for an observation that I made while browsing for contemporary dresses (ostensibly for my college age daughter) in a famous 5th Avenue department store.  When did everything become “Leger-ized”?  I’m referring, of course, to the Herve Leger bandage dress which has been around since the mid ’80s when it was first created by “The King of Cling” Azzedine Alaia, then appropriated by Herve L. Leroux but was re-launched in full force with a runway show in 2008 after being acquired by BCBG Max Azria.  Since then the body-con dress has been knocked off by a company called Stretta  Moda(complete with a 2012 lawsuit) among others who emulated the bandage stripping of the original but used cheaper fabric and fabrication.

Ronny Kobo dress in similar fabric around $400

Many others jumped on the bandwagon including  Torn by Ronny Kobo who made a copy as well as French Connection and Bebe.   Even BCBG Generation is now doing a low priced version of the stretchy fabric effectively knocking off themselves.   Somehow this textile (or very similar ones in a knit of rayon and spandex, sometimes in jacquard) have taken over the market for the young and trendy.  I assumed this style was played out several years ago and replaced by the digital prints (Mary Katrantzou and at a lesser price point Clover Canyon) and by the cut-outs and illusion plunging neckline spandex dresses that seem to proliferate at my daughter’s sorority date parties.  Apparently I was wrong, as a textile that feels even heavier and rougher (less pliant) and without the bandage stripping is in abundance on the sales floor if not on the dance floor.

I’m not sure who favors this fabric…I guess it would serve to suck in any “problem areas” almost like a girdle or Spanx,  however it must feel like armor and it certainly isn’t breathing or letting the wearer breathe.  I would be curious to see if these dresses can stand on their own and how much they weigh.  How this thick, heavy fabric will fare in the warmer months is anyone’s guess but they certainly don’t scream Spring/Summer to me.  The good news is it seems that like the Tech Focus fabrics they are almost indestructible and probably impervious to liquids so if you do spill that glass of champagne no one will be the wiser.

Herve Leger jacquard dress

Meanwhile the real Herve Leger line continues to churn out everything from the original style bandage dress at around a $1,000 price point to some very intricately embellished items with jacquard and a crocheted appearance for around $3,000 as well as swim apparel including a $790 monokini. Bloomingdales is featuring an entire department of Leger on their 4th floor of designers across from Chanel.   The question is:  who is still buying them?   As Diane von
Furstenberg is now celebrating the 40 year anniversary of her iconic wrap dress,
expect to see an even bigger resurgence of
the bandage dress
next year for 2015 as  it turns the big 3-0!

Laurel Marcus

OG journo major who thought Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" was a fashion guide. Desktop comedienne -- the world of fashion gives me no shortage of material.

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