After a summer of wholesome prairie dresses, fashion is heading in a more garish and flamboyant direction, inspired by two of panto’s favourite mischief-makers
High fashion has long been fascinated by clothes that turn traditional ideas of prettiness on their head. That is why chunky trainers in shades of murky brown regularly set fashion-forward consumers back hundreds of pounds. But the latest iteration of “ugly dressing”, which sees malevolent characters from childhood fairytales – notably the ugly sisters from Cinderella – transform into style inspiration, may still have crept up on you like a pantomime villain.
You’ll know “ugly sister dressing” when you see it: it is bright, ostentatious and utterly unapologetic. It is flamboyant, over-the-top dress structures and chichi embellishments. On the catwalk, ugly sister dressing surfaced at Valentino AW19 couture, where looks included turquoise feathers (a favourite of Cinderella’s stepsister Drizella in the 1950 Walt Disney classic) and yellow tiered tassels compete with matching wigs. The Givenchy couture runway involved Kaia Gerber draped in black fabric covered with ombréd blue feathers and, at the Mary Katrantzou show, tangerine-coloured feathers and frills collided to create a garish look in a similar colour palette to that worn by the oldest of the stepsisters in the 2004 Cinderella reimagining, Ella Enchanted.