Is the move toward ladylike apparel returning to a weak fragility of the feminine mystique or is it deeper?

With Raf Simons confirmed to creative direct Dior this year, one of the most cerebral and innovative designers is joining the haute couture ranks of the ultra-feminine. Even though the 1950s is having a moment, the woman stuck in the cage of domesticity is obviously not part of the fashion picture. The romance of this trend remains but since it’s led by such powerful fashion minds, ones who no doubt have an affinity for beauty and brains, the return to the nifty fifties seems more smart than sweet.

Just ask Miuccia. For Spring/Summer 2012, she took us back to 50s car culture with hot rods and smokin’ hot outfits, with flames to match. The Steven Meisel-scoped campaign and accompanied video have us salivating for more of the jewel encrusted voluminous jackets, glossy patents, and plisé pleats (yes, please!). The obvious 50s hallmarks make this collection beautiful, but the interesting part are the cheeky car prints. Representing the freedom of the open road and liberation from confinement, the cars appeared on leather everything, from bags to skirts to heels. Reminiscent of Christian Dior bags from Spring 2001, the entire Prada collection poked fun at the excess of style in the mid-century and new millennium. Desirably diabolical, these clothes are smarter than they look.

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