A Frivolous Picnic

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7 May 2011 By Molly Taylor

A Frivolous Picnic

There are a lot of things that influence a designer’s collection each season, whether it be the latest muse, a photograph or even another culture. However, not everything has to mean something in fashion.

But when the silhouettes go from sharp shouldered tailoring courtesy of Balmain to the soft picnic trends as seen at Christopher Kane just one season later, one questions whether the designer has discovered a new style aesthetic based on what is happening in the wider world. Typically speaking, when the fabrics are lusher, the detailing more exaggerated and the collections more polished after a season of utility wear, there’s something changing in the fashion world: the economy. 

Over the past two years, no area of industry has managed to escape the recession, with the Fashion industry no exception. With the closure of labels such as Luella and the drought of funds to create elaborate collections, the focus on the economy reached its epicentre this year, with many other labels threatened to shut down. This forecasted end of the recession had a strong impact on fashion; typical to economic crisis’s of the past, where designers are now more indulgent in creating collections suited to an un-practical market, rather than purely utility-wear in the form of tailoring and basics.

No trend this season embodies this theory better than the picnic trend as seen for Summer 2010. Embracing a frivolous and youthful aesthetic, this season is all about the fun seeker- those who have beaten the recession and are celebrating economic growth. At Christopher Kane, gingham dresses were given a flirty twist with panelling and short hemlines in pretty pastels, a contrast from the plethora of blacks and greys as seen last season. His collection was light and freedom-inducing; this trend is all about traditional and luxury fabrics given a picnic twist with youthful elements.

Picnics themselves are stereotypically for the traditional English family, but with the remnants of the recession’s provocative twist, we can all enjoy the playful lifestyle that the picnic trend embodies. No longer are we supposed to worry about the economy and its effects on your jobs and your future, this Summer is all about lazy Fridays spent sunbathing on a classic Brora blanket with a wicker basket. Fashion is willing us to embrace the season’s tastes of sunshine and indulge in time spent with friends, family and lovers in fabulous style. This means we all should now have time to play- it’s all about the freedom that fashion can bring.

However, true to the impact of the recession, picnic dressing still requires a certain amount of etiquette in order to stay in vogue and to provide a smoother transition out of our sharp blazers and stilettos and into bare feet and breezy skirts and dresses. Picnics can always lead to something else and so it is important to induce a dose of sass to your outfit in order to be prepared for the new move of attention from work to play. Simpler and more conservative picnic attire is a pastel sheer blouse worn with simple shorts or a soft skirt. Accessories are not necessary for this look- all you need are a pair of Ray Ban’s and an optional floral headband.

Footwear is another matter- at the picnic it is entirely optional, although for transport there and back it is important to choose wisely. From a pair of Chanel’s own clogs to a pair of Urban Outfitters lace up brogues worn with frilly socks, there is a main rule to picnic footwear: we’re stepping out of the recession’s pointed stilettos (and out of blisters, swollen ankles and toe cramp!) and into a more comfortable, wearable pair of shoes. A perfect example of this is the new season of Kitten heels, as seen in collections such as Missoni, and now a popular hit for the picnic trend- both functional and pretty, these shoes embody the look’s aesthetic. For those who want to give up heels completely, a great pair of sandals work perfectly- look for raffia detailing or fringing to be in keeping with the latest shoe trends for Summer.

Model on the catwalk

A key feature of the trend that defies the former seasons of recession-wear is that there are no barriers to how lavish your picnic set is. From vintage inspired (and expensive!) Pashley bikes for transport or the finest in picnic cuisine of Moet champagne and canapés, there’s a plethora of items that can be bought to accessorise the trend. Even Chanel jumped on the picnic bandwagon, with a wild west themed collection that carried a few contributions to the trend, with key items such as a floral wicker basket and even their own picnic set emblazoned with the double ‘C’ logo.

As we wave a farewell to the recessionista that we all became during the last few seasons, it’s truly the time to hang up our workwear/daywear uniform of tight trousers, tailored jackets and stiletto platforms in order to appreciate the luxury of the new palette of trends for Summer. The picnic look is the perfect transition into a more expensive wardrobe- the playful elements intertwined with provocative twists provides a look focused on Summer’s social occasions. So what are you waiting for? Step into your Christopher Kane cut out dress, slip on those raffia sandals and head down to your nearest park or meadow for some picnic fun.