A musical tribute to the late Aretha Franklin was the first indication of Roland Mouret’s inspiration for SS’19: (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, which rang out across a rooftop of the National Theatre on Southbank on Sunday afternoon. Mouret was playing with the idea of “introvert sexuality” — starting from 1974 softcore porn film Emmanuelle — through to the more recent #TimesUp and #MeToo campaigns. In a year that also marks the 100th anniversary of the suffragette movement, the collection tied together references and key moments of women’s liberation the last century.
Empowerment, eroticism, individuality and ownership were explored, with clusters of badges adorned delicate floral dresses and pastel suiting. Suggestive slits expose otherwise modest garments, which aim to “challenge the aesthetic of a covered body and give the woman the tools to reclaim the gaze of the observer,” according to accompanying show notes.
Dichotomous relationships — coverage and exposure, structure and fluidity — strike a harmonious balance. As a reflection on feminism, or rather, the dress of a modern feminist, Mouret has created a surprising and complex collection. “Women across the world have found strength through the community of shared experiences,” says Mouret. “Women are the voice of our society, and this is what I want to express in this collection.”