With the pink dresses trend exploding onto the catwalks, this eye-catching hue has proved it isn't just for Wednesdays anymore. From Céline to Gucci, models were dipped in shades ranging from dusky cherry blossom to Barbie bright. But while this could be considered a backlash to the pervasiveness of sports-luxe and normcore at first glance, the season’s pink dresses were surprisingly stripped down in terms of design – not a pink lace dress nor a frill in sight.
Alexander McQueen often dips a toe or two into the stereotypical fairytale aesthetic of pink, with ornate gowns appearing in several of the storied fashion house's collections. Yet there’s always a dark edge. Take Creative Director Sarah Burton’s colossal paler-than-pale pink dress with multiple layers from AW12 as an example. Despite being breathtakingly feminine, it was produced to appear like the "rippling underbellies of mushrooms" according to Burton, and was worn on the catwalk with futuristic wraparound sunglasses.
John Galliano has also long been a prominent purveyor of the pink dresses trend, in keeping with the designer’s adoration of ostentation and grandeur. Consider his multicoloured AW99 show for Christian Dior Haute Couture, in which a rousing finale featured a model in a silky red and hot pink dress with a gargantuan parachute in matching shades billowing out from behind her. A previous offering at Helmut Lang, however, was closer in style to SS17’s pared-down dresses. The brand's berry-pink latex shift with lace print from AW94 epitomised the 90s minimalism that has returned to the fore in recent seasons. And it remains utterly timeless over two decades on.
Iconic in pink
Pink dresses have been at their most enduring when their wearers have shied away from unimaginative ball gowns in hues so sugary they would make Glinda the Good Witch of the North shudder. Take Björk – when she tapped into the froufrou aesthetic with her blush dress at Cannes in 2000, true to form she gave the look edge by choosing an enchanting structured design with origami-esque ruffles.
As far back as the 60s, former First Lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis was showing how to put a twist on the tone for evening dressing with an orchid coloured A-line gown. She pepped it up with contrasting white gloves, giving the classic ensemble a quirky twist. Princess Diana, who had a penchant for pink, also juxtaposed white and a soft rose tone, accessorising a long-sleeved block colour tubular dress with shoes and a clutch in different gradients of dusky pink hues in the 80s. The modern way to wear such a dress? With a micro bag or three à la Fendi.
As in several ensembles on the SS17 catwalks, the princess also clashed vivid pink and red in a contrasting Catherine Walker design on an official tour of Kuwait. In fact, Diana's sartorial choices were a clear inspiration for the bouffant sleeves and oversized shapes that were rife on the catwalks throughout AW16 and SS17, particularly when it came to the pink dress.
Pink in SS17
The pairing of red and pink – as seen on Princess Diana –appeared on several catwalks for SS17. At Valentino, a fuchsia turtleneck floor-length design came with scarlet trimming and long sleeves. Pillar-box red also made an appearance in the form of ladylike patent Mary Janes teamed with a high-shine belted shirt dress in shocking pink at Bottega Veneta. While black pairs well with this convivial colour, accessories in vermillion shades add a directional twist.
Enlarged sleeves, cinched-in waists and loud pink hues were seen at Kenzo and Hermès, while Oscar de la Renta tapped into a similar 80s aesthetic with a décolletage-baring, ruched-sleeve off-the-shoulder design in a glossy candy-pink hue. In deference to the strong shade, the designer left the rest of the ensemble unadorned to allow the dress itself to shine.
For something a little softer, look to Céline’s muted crepe jersey gown. The cape-like light pink dress also came in the length of the season: the midi. Such a pale hue could be worn bare-legged for a stripped-down summertime look or given a spin by being paired with colourful tights. This combination was oft seen on the catwalk in SS17, most notably at Balenciaga where vivacious purple spandex leggings clashed with a trapeze-like, high-collared hot pink dress.
The most prominent takeaway from the pink dresses trend? As proven by the recent looks on the catwalk, not to mention the iconic candy-coloured ensembles witnessed throughout history, it needs that avant-garde edge. Be the Björk you want to see in the world.