Fashion girlies, ahoy; sailor style has been spotted on the horizon and it’s coming right at us.
In truth, nautical influences have never been that far in the distance. Popularised since the World Wars, made famous by the royals in the 1980s (now, Princess Diana knew how to rock a sailor collar), and re-imagined on the catwalks for decades, maritime themes have been favoured by designers, specifically iconoclasts such as Chanel, Saint Laurent and Jean Paul Gaultier, for almost a century.
But, just when you might have argued that navy-inspired sartorial had become all too familiar, Couture Fashion Week saw Simone Rocha make her couture debut as guest designer at Jean Paul Gaultier – with titanic effect. The 36-look show stunned with typically Rocha-esque takes on Gaultier codes and silhouettes; adorned corsetry with delicate flowers, rippling tulle skirts exploding from beneath exaggerated sleeves, and sailor hats – oh the sailor hats, accessorised with bows, crystals and sheer panelling.
While sailor hats have long been a staple of Jean Paul Gaultier’s visual story-telling, Rocha’s ultra-feminine take has come perfectly timed. At the height of fashion’s obsession with girlhood, nostalgic symbols like bows, ribbons and sugary colour palettes feel very now – which was exactly what she wanted. Speaking previously, the designer made it clear her aim was to re-imagine Jean Paul Gaultier signatures ‘how they feel today’ using her own style; a style which has been dubbed one of the most prominent voices in the haute-girl aesthetic.
With a sense of playfulness and nostalgia, sailor hats snuggle up well next to the Peter Pan collars, puff sleeves and Mary Jane shoes we’ve all been seeking out. Look to other cult brands associated with this trend and you’ll find nods to sailor style, too. Designer Sandy Liang’s collection features typically maritime shades of red, blue and white, and her recently-launched Kismet dress showcases a wide, forward-reaching collar and pleated skirt - reminiscent of the 1980s styles Princess Diana was so fond of. While sailor hats crown the heads of models in Bode, another cult New York-based brand’s, most recent campaign images and nautical themes can be found throughout their latest designs.
Designer, influencer and all-round ‘It Girl’ Blanca Miro touts naval fashion as one of the key inspirations for LA VESTE’s SS24 collections, the label she owns with Maria de la Orden. This year, the pair have teamed up with Pardo Hats (another brilliant, female-owned independent) to create a colourful sailor hat of their own.
'I love sailor style,' she emphasises, speaking to ELLE UK. 'Our upcoming collection is inspired by the sea and sailor style, featuring elements that I’ve always loved wearing and styling myself, such as stripes, bold primary colours and over-sized collars. Our sailor hat is created for the woman who wants to feel empowered, stylish and feminine – and will wear it precisely in her own way.'
But, tipping your hat to the sailor aesthetic doesn’t have to mean donning this on-trend headwear. Dip your toe in the girlhood pool and take note of collared shirts a la Miu Miu’s latest drop or vintage-style shoes like Carel’s sweet heels in block colours. Whether you opt for a traditional colour palette of red, white and blue or feel inspired by Rocha’s pastel hues, there’s one thing for certain: sailor style won’t be floating off anytime soon.
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