Molly Goddard celebrates ever-evolving femininity at London Fashion Week

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By Megan Hill

Premiered at London Digital Fashion Week, Molly Goddard’s SS21 collection saw the inevitable return of her infamous romantic tulle gowns.

This time, her recognisably feminine silhouettes met clunky, modern footwear (courtesy of a collaboration with UGG) in an ode to the spirit of rebellion that has earned Goddard so much praise.

Goddard and her famous tulle look

Although Goddard’s use of tulle has made a name for itself in modern pop culture, the fabric’s history in fashion spans centuries. Tulle’s angelic, airy quality meant an inevitable association with purity, beauty and you guessed it, femininity. Such material lends itself well to layering so tulle quickly gained popularity for its ability to create ridiculously wide skirts that concealed a woman’s legs whilst accentuating her waist and bust; a silhouette that was long held as the ‘ideal’ beauty standard for women.

Note that these restricting shapes were predominantly envisioned by men, almost as if the way a woman dressed was representative as to how she was expected to behave — ornamental, beautifully restrained.

Tulle’s well-established ties with femininity make it the perfect tool to question the very essence of what femininity means in fashion, which is exactly what Molly Goddard does so well. Romantic and girly boast rather juxtaposing semantics to daring and playful. Yet read a review of Goddard’s collection and you’re likely to find all of the above.

‘Girly’ seems to have earned itself a pretty bad rep, it connotes fragility, subservience, even immaturity. In short, it aligns itself with an outdated perception of femininity. In accordance with this belief many have shunned garments that gravitate towards this ideal. Pink, soft and frilly — forget it! It is not feminist to dress so feminine, if you will. But does that really have to be the case?

Goddard’s designs have long been teaching us to reclaim the frills. Yes, their history is defined by being ‘girly’, dainty, pretty and what’s wrong with that? May we not add bold, individual and fun to that list too. Being feminine and being boisterous are not two mutually exclusive ideals.

Goddard’s new collection invites us to be bolder, dress unapologetically, celebrate our ever-evolving femininity yet remain entirely undefined by it.