The Battle For The Body

Posted on April 8, 2010


Once upon a time, I believed men were better designers for women, I guess that was circa Tom Ford for Gucci – a time when I erroneously thought I was skinny.

Well time has passed and since skinny eludes me like sense does Sarah Palin, I find myself looking at designers I feel understand women better. Women who design real clothing not fantasies, clothes that will never be ground-breaking but certainly the solution to the eternal conundrum, what do I wear today?

The older you get, the key becomes what is stylish, what suits my taste and how not to look like stuffing in cling film.

My thinking gravitated towards why we look to certain designers and the many differences between male and female fashion designers.

What do men want?

Men, given the chance would design for women in a manner that accentuates femininity; they enhance the parts they want to see, that is effectively how they are wired.

Male designers often wax lyrical about appreciating and celebrating the woman’s body, a euphemism of sorts if you ask me. Cast your mind back to Christopher Kane’s maiden collection, Herve Leger bandage dresses and more recently Mark Fast’s gorgeous knitwear.

L – R: All Mark Fast

Caution: without model physique, count yourself disqualified from the race. Their designs are often sexy, high-octane and are not the faint of heart.

Motto: harder, tighter, and faster.

Most likely to wear: Scarlett Johansson (on a good day), Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Kim Kadarshian

L-R: Preen; Preen; Mark Fast
What do women want?

These are more often designed by women who empathise with the average woman and her quest for sensible and functional yet stylish clothes. Sometimes these are designers who are possibly more mature and confident in their sexuality, counted among the patron saints are Phoebe Philo and the mistress of drape, Donna Karan.

L – R: Celine; Alberta Ferretti; Celine

Their clothes make up a functioning wardrobe, the perfect shirt, the perfect cut, clothes that hide that which should remain hidden. These women understand the routine of daily life, they know their bodies and in their minds, you are central to the design.

Motto: Subliminal sexy. Body contouring

Most likely to wear: Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett

L – R: Stella McCarteney; Alberta Ferretti; Alberta Ferretti

The majority of us choose sides and are fiercely loyal, very rarely do we swap and in the event that we do, it’s often for major changes i.e. marriage, religion, a mid-life crisis.

[As with all things, there are exceptions to the rules: Lanvin, Bottega Veneta, Versace]

So, whose side are you on?


It could be argued that I’m playing on stereotypes, but do try to extol the virtues of a maxi skirt to the next man…..must I continue?

Miss Delilah.

Posted in: The F Word