You would think that with all the greatcoats, maxi skirts, and trousers shown on the fall 2020 runways, legs would have disappeared entirely. On the contrary, they often were the center of attention. Designers may not agree about a lot, but there is a consensus of opinion when it comes to the appeal of a well-dressed leg. Footwear, legwear and hosiery companies have reason to rejoice next season.
In New York, Marc Jacobs made a statement with leg-lengthening tights worn over heeled pumps. In some cases, they were actually shoe tights that might be produced and sold in his Madison Avenue flagship. The group of monotone coats, matching shifts, and headscarves they were shown with was a standout.
Marc also showed ankle socks and knee socks with everything from boyish oxfords to Mary Janes and pointy-toed high heeled pumps.
The leg was on view throughout the Proenza Schouler show. When legs weren’t covered in ruched leather or satin over the knee boots, they were dressed in black opaque tights.
High heeled, second-skin leather over the knee boots was the footwear of choice at Alexander McQueen. Sarah Burton’s strong “warrior women” wore them beneath sharply tailored coats and suits, graphic knitwear, black cocktail dresses, and white cotton poet sleeved shirt dresses with high-low hemlines.
The basis of the Rick Owens collection was a clingy knit dress with one leg almost completely exposed. To emphasize the leg, Rick used exaggerated platform boots made of recycled plastic that inched well past the thigh. The heavy, statement-making legwear was an interesting counterpoint to the dresses. And they were a perfect balance to the sensational outerwear: abbreviated parkas, moto jackets (some with exaggerated shoulders), and some genuinely standout puffer coats.
Some of the best boots were classic rather than exaggerated and they were not all high heels. The black leather over the knee boots at Valentino was urbane and elegant, in keeping with the collection.
Miuccia Prada’s thick, colorful, ribbed wool tights provided coverage under her embellished sheer chiffon dresses. The tights not only contrasted with the hefty Donegal tweeds in the collection but the footwear: flat Mary Janes and sturdy high heeled ankle strap shoes and sandals with sporty rubber soles.
Marine Serre is known for her inventive stretch body wear and moon logo. New this season is a black lizard print that was effectively used beneath Marine’s black and white houndstooth coats and dresses.
Alessandro Michele’s Gucci fall collection was a typical madcap mashup. Legs were hidden under long dresses, skirts, and trousers. At the same time, they were on view in abbreviated coats, skirts, and pinafore dresses that took their cues from little girls’ clothing and school uniforms. Michele loves to play with hosiery, and he used a variety of knee highs, tights, and stockings. He even made a case for stockings with holes.
Latex leggings and stiletto-heeled pumps were shown at Balmain and Saint Laurent. They are admittedly not for everyone. I cringe to think about how they will look off the runway. One woman who will never be wearing them is Betty Catroux. You know what’s really “got legs”? Her enduring androgynous style, which is the subject of an exhibition, Betty Catroux, Yves Saint Laurent, Feminine Singular. It opened on March 3 at the Yves Saint Laurent Museum and runs through October 11.
The 2020 fall collections were filled with mannish coats, tuxedos, and sharply tailored jackets. Dressing in a gender-fluid fashion is nothing new for the 6 foot tall, 76-year-old former model. She is a fashion icon and muse to Yves Saint Laurent, Tom Ford, and Anthony Vaccarello, among others. As Ms. Catroux recently told WWD, “I’ve always dressed like a man and done things my own way. I’m the exact opposite of the bourgeoise”.
Women with real style, like Betty Catroux, are not chasing the newest and the latest. They are not fashion victims who change with the vagaries of fashion. They know who they are, and they know how to cut through the noise.