Writer’s Note: This season is all about innovation—but not in the way you might think. Designers sought not to reinvent the wheel, but rather to invent a new way of observing what we already know and love, from the timeless indigo to our dear friend the butterfly. After all, isn’t this the effusive project of all the great arts?
Designer Rahul Mishra lives in a fantasy. Indeed, the moon is so bright in Uttarakhand, India, where he owns a property, that you could embroider through the night — no candle or lightbulb necessary. It’s this bright world, surrounded by biodiverse flowers and twittering birds and fluttering insects, which Mishra famously captures in his couture collections- this season perhaps even more so. Each look proved more luscious than the last. One cobalt dress graced the body like a supersized hydrangea; butterflies in orange and blue bedazzled, their wings frozen in movement, suggesting they’d landed there for only a second — a meditation on the beauty of nature, and the natural truth of beauty, that lovely things are fleeting but always in flight, if only you pause to look.
Capturing this trend’s romanticism, French model Didi Stone glowed in a Roberto Cavalli matching cape and skirt with magenta floral motifs and a stunning sweep of contrasting black, like the wink of a butterfly wing. And for a more playful take, actress Lauren Hutton wore a fuchsia Gabriela Hearst robe with a carnival of colorful parrots and flowers floating from head to toe.
This trend translates perfectly onto the dance floor. For a subtler interpretation, look for dresses with glittering floral motifs along the hem or neckline. And for little extra drama, go for dance dresses with sweeping butterfly wings crawling along the bodice or feathery accents attached at the hip.
In fashion, navy is so often associated with the sea, from the true blues of the oceans to those playful ultramarine stripes of the Parisian sailor’s favorite marinière. But this season, a new, more inspired indigo encouraged us lucky beholders to shift our scopes from the sea to the stars. No better adventurer to handhold us through this celestial journey than Fendi, whose spring couture collection featured a cascade of dreamy evening gowns in delicate shades of lapis and azure. Like the night sky, bursts of starlight in the forms of jeweled accents or gem-encrusted details animated the sapphire hues. The shimmery gowns caught the light anew with every step of the model.
Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, offered an elegant example of the Inspired Indigo trend in a cyan Christopher John Rogers gown that followed the trajectory of a shooting star with its dramatic slip and asymmetrical, one-shoulder silhouette. And actress Anna Schaffer, in London, wore a Roksanda dress with cerulean brushstrokes that appeared straight out of Van Gogh’s Starry Night.
On the dance floor, try out this trend in any style of dress. For a minimalist’s approach, seek out a slip in a navy with a timeless gray hue. And for the maximalist: after you’ve found your perfect shade of incandescent indigo, match your accessories and makeup to your dance dress for a playful monochrome that makes a statement — a testament to your attention to detail, in dancing and in fashion.
Here’s a fun prompt for your next daydream: What would you do if you were asked to design a couture collection for an iconic designer?
That’s exactly the reverie Glenn Martens (the artistic director of Diesel) found himself in when he was asked to direct the spring season of Jean Paul Gaultier’s eponymous brand. A dream come true, Martens’ resulting line paid homage to the classic Frenchwoman Gaultier’s been fashioning since 1976—with a rather poufy twist. The sophisticated color palette was painfully French (think red, white, and black) and breathtakingly feminine (think frothy pink slips). But the characteristic that demanded attention, quite literally, was its grandeur: traditional silhouettes were mocked by the likes of a ginormous (and positively sublime) emerald gown and, for the final look, a billowing millefeuille of coral fabric.
And speaking of the marinière, for one of his most celebrated looks, Martens reimagined the classic sailor’s stripe by adding 3D elements and some seriously snazzy texture.
Off the runway, actress Kristen Stewart offered a masterclass in the multidimensional trend in a noir Chanel getup with white chiffon gathered around the hip, almost suggestive of peplum, juxtaposed against a sheer bodice. In a more zesty interpretation of the trend, singer Dua Lipa donned an Area-designed heart-shaped crop top and hip-hugging mini skirt made punchy with a lime green fringe of feathers peeking out from the sides.
This trend lends itself to the most sumptuous dance dresses: the bigger, the better. In every color of the rainbow, scout out your perfect dress with textured jewel accents, feathery accoutrements, or bold ruches of fabric that play with structure and form—and accentuate your body’s grace, movement, and style.
About the Writer: Emma Francois is a graduate of Georgetown University, with a degree in English and a minor in art history and studio art. She lives for following the sartorial world and loves analyzing the fashion industry through every lens, be it economic or artistic. Emma has been writing Hairpins to Hemlines for Encore Ballroom Couture since 2015.
About the Illustrator and Editor: Callie Maginnis is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a double major in Fashion Design and English. She is the dress manager at Encore Ballroom Couture and loves the sparkle and shine of the ballroom dance industry!
About the Creative Director: Julie Michelle Wilson is the owner of Encore Ballroom Couture, the leading consignment and rental dress company in the ballroom dance industry. She has been a professional dancer for almost 20 years. She enjoys creative expression on and off the dance floor!