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how to wear DARK ROMANCE

It’s romance but not as you know it. This season’s hyper-feminine styles take on a maximalist, rebellious edge.

Words by Shona Wallace.



The perennial print has had a makeover, courtesy of Christopher Kane. In recent seasons the designer has explored themes of sex and sensuality, and his Pre-AW19 collection continues this with a nod to 1950s pin-up culture. This is particularly apparent in the hand-drawn polka dots, which appear on full maxi skirts, crystal-embellished blouses and demure midi dresses. For a modern take, Kane offsets the retro feel of the pieces with touches of delicate black lace, gold chainmail and patent leather.



No longer reserved for ballet tutus and bridal gowns, tulle is an easy way to bring texture, volume and movement to your look. This season’s tulle is equal parts romantic and dramatic – Givenchy’s eye-catching dress is ideal for a special occasion, while Simone Rocha’s artful runway styles have day-to-night appeal. If you only buy one piece, make it Rochas’ black tulle skirt, which can be dressed up with a top and jewellery, or dressed down with tailored trousers and a utility jacket.

THE Fabric


This season, typically romantic silhouettes have been reimagined in unexpected fabrics. At Valentino, Pierpaolo Piccioli worked black leather into a pleated dress with the movement and softness of silk, while Alexander McQueen’s tailored interpretation features a peplum waist and voluminous bell sleeves. Similarly, plush black velvet makes a comeback, channelling 1980s rebellion at The Attico and classic glamour at Alexandre Vauthier. Cecilie Bahnsen’s interpretation is the embodiment of subversive femininity with quilting, devoré and exaggerated bow details.

THE label


The dark romance of Prada’s Pre-AW19 line began with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a story which inspired Miuccia Prada to consider the many facets of humanity. From this, the label’s eclectic collection was born, combining moody floral prints with motifs from iconic horror films like Frankenstein and The Rocky Horror Picture Show in illustrations by Jeanne Detallante. The abstract prettiness continues through the styling – ladylike fitted dresses are layered over printed shirts and mohair knits, then cinched with utilitarian belts.



Maximalism is key to this look, right down to the shoes. Think femininity to the extreme – Balenciaga’s signature kitten-heel mules and flats are topped with overblown leather bows, lending them a cartoonish charm. Every bit as playful are Miu Miu’s red-and-black platform Mary Janes, while Christopher Kane’s patent leather pumps channel his Pre-AW19 collection’s fetish theme in a suitably glamorous way.

The Style Report
The Style Report