It’s not easy to write about Hervé Léger: his trademark style, which reached its peak of notoriety in the Nineties, has been dissected by any fashion blogger out there. When Max Azria took over the company and brought Léger Parisian mood to Hollywood, any celebrity soon wore the infamous bandage dresses, turning them into an unstoppable trend.
Just to refresh your memory: Lindsay Lohan was probably the first who wore a Léger’s dress, that iconic rainbow dress everybody raved about. She also wore a black and white dress at a Cartier Love event, and one on the set of Ugly Betty.
It’s impossible – and pointless – to track down all the celebrities who have worn Léger creations in the last few years. The beginning of the end came when the bandage dresses went mainstream, ‘thanks’ to Kim Kardashian and Heidi Montag. The reality-show stars soon turned sexy into trashy.
Seeing one of them wearing yet another Léger dress made me honestly sick. Now they’ve both turned to other designers, there are celebrities who are giving these dresses a more refined and classy mood.
Some of the actresses starring in Gossip Girl have been spotted wearing bandage dresses. Nicole Fiscella sported a colourful fuchsia dress, while Michelle Trachtenberg (who plays the villain Georgina) wore a tie-dye number at Léger Fall 2009 fashion show. Blake Lively and Leighton Meester both wore bandage dresses in the series: Blake Lively kept it simple, while Leighton paired it with a nice Joie cardi and a Tomassini nautical necklace.
Now – thanks God – the storm has calmed down: Léger dresses are still fashionable but not over-exposed as before. Though not a fan of body-con dresses, I am fascinated by Léger’s Spring 2009 campaign, featuring Emma Balfour, because I think it pays homage to Eighties/Nineties designers.
The ads are very simple, and so is the way Emma Balfour poses in front of the camera. I like her make-up (smokey eyes and nude lips, no blush, matte foundation) and hairstyle (the blonde locks are loose and straight, just a little wet). She is portrayed with a neutral background behind her, or lying on a floor of grey wood.
In this shot she’s holding leather multifaceted oval clutches in several colours, the most notable pieces of the accessories’ collection.
In this image we can see her wearing a grey bandage dress, asymmetrically cut on the neckline and decorated by silver baguette beads. Am I the only one who thinks this detail (the asymmetrical neckline) has already been seen in Balmain’s collections?
Here Emma is shot in full figure, so we can note she’s wearing white sheer tights and “Chloe” ankle strap sandals. The dress she’s wearing is a pearl grey bandage dress, with thin bands intricately crossing the neckline and the bust.
These two dresses are ready for the red carpet: they’re sexy and shimmering, without being revealing. I prefer the steel grey one, though, because it’s not a traditional bandage dress: it looks like it’s made of metallic pleated fabric. This type of fabric is reminiscent of some experiments with metallic fabrics and pleating in the Eighties (think of Krizia’s stunning jumpsuit from 1983 collection).
I love these two shots with Emma lying on the floor, wearing swimsuits. I think this part of the collection heavily pays homage to designers such Norma Kamali and Azzedine Alaia. In the Eighties they were discovering new materials (jersey and foil Lycra) and the importance of showing a toned and slim body. They have been the first to experiment with crossing bands and cut-outs. Gianni Versace is another designer who based part of his early Nineties collections on the same idea, with a punk and fetish mood. Emma is wearing a black bikini and sheer tights, and she’s holding another Léger bag, a multifaceted leather rectangle clutch.
This red swimsuit is stunning. I don’t think it’s a real swimsuit, because I’m not sure the bandage fabric is water-proof. On the other hand, this is an eccentric style, so I don’t think it can be worn for actually swimming in it. The way the bands cross the neckline and the belly is very sexy.
Here are some of the most interesting dresses seen on the catwalk. I think plain dresses are quite boring, so I much prefer ombré dresses. In the dress on the left, grey fades in asymmetrical bands; the one on the right is made of fading bands horizontally sewn.
The same concept has been applied to the dress on the left, which works on fading tones of brown and red (Mischa Barton wore a similar dress last year). In this collection Max and Ljubov Azria have tried to change things introducing airbrushed leather dresses, like the one on the right. The result is nice but a bit boring.
The swimsuits are the most creative part of the collection. All the pieces are built on the concept of bands sewn together, but here the designers have let their fantasy loose, crossing and arranging the bands in different fashions. The colour range is quite basic – white, black and red – but includes a beautiful nude rose which strongly resembles the model’s complexion.
I’d probably never wear bandage dresses, let alone bandage swimsuits, but I’d love to try one on, just to check if it’s really like wearing a shaping dress. If it was so, I could really think of splurging and buy a Hervé Léger piece, just for the thrilling of looking shaped for once in my life.